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Title: The Sheepfold and the Common, Vol. I (of 2) - Within and Without
Author: East, Timothy
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: cover]



  THE

  SHEEPFOLD AND THE COMMON.

  [Illustration:

  DRAWN BY G. H. THOMAS.       ENGRAVED BY W. L. THOMAS.

  THE OLD SHEPHERD.

  Vol. i. page 2.]

  [Illustration:

  the
  Sheepfold
  and the
  Common
  OR
  WITHIN & WITHOUT.

  Blackie & Son Glasgow Edinburgh and London.]



  THE

  SHEEPFOLD AND THE COMMON:

  OR,

  WITHIN AND WITHOUT.


  VOL. I.

  "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow
        me."--JOHN x. 27.

  "Them that are without God judgeth."--1 COR. v. 13.

  [Illustration: logo]

  BLACKIE AND SON:

  GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, LONDON, AND NEW YORK.

  MDCCCLXI.


  GLASGOW:

  W. G. BLACKIE AND CO., PRINTERS,

  VILLAFIELD.



PREFACE.


This Work was originally published, above thirty years ago,
under the title of the _Evangelical Rambler_. It has long been
out of print; and its republication at the present time has been
recommended, as calculated to assist in arresting the progress
of some popular errors and dangerous institutions, and in aiding
the advancement of truth and social happiness. This opinion was
strengthened by a knowledge of the fact, that, according to the most
accurate calculations, from sixty thousand to a hundred thousand
copies of the Work, under its original title, were issued from the
English press, whilst in America it obtained an equally extended
circulation; and from the still more important fact of the Author
having received, from a large number of persons, assurances, both by
letter and personal interviews, of their having derived their first
religious impressions and convictions from perusing its pages. A new
and thoroughly-revised Edition is, therefore, now issued, under the
title of "THE SHEEPFOLD AND THE COMMON," as being more descriptive
of the aim and intention of the Work than its former name.

The object of the Work is to afford instruction and amusement,
conveyed by a simple narration of the events of every-day life. In
constructing his story, the Author has availed himself occasionally
of the conceptions of his fancy, and at other times he has crowded
into a narrow compass facts and incidents culled from an extended
period of his history; but reality forms the basis of every
narrative and of every scene he has described. He has departed
from the common-place habit of presenting the grand truths of the
Christian faith in didactic and dogmatic statements, preferring the
dramatic form, as more likely to arrest the attention and interest
the feelings, especially of the youthful and imaginative portion
of the community. In adopting this style of composition, he has
thus endeavoured to follow the footsteps of the great Prophet of
Israel, who often spake in parables, veiling truth in a beauteous
external vehicle, to captivate and teach his hearers, while their
prejudices were lying dormant. In no book of human authorship can we
find specimens of imaginative composition that will compare with the
following examples from the New Testament, which the Author quotes,
in illustration and defence of the principle on which his Work is
based.

On no occasion during the ministry of Jesus Christ are we so
thoroughly convinced of the fatal danger of trusting in our own
attainments and doings for our salvation, and of the absolute
safety of reposing exclusive confidence in Him for this inestimable
blessing, as when he places us in imagination on the shore, after
the desolating storm has completed its work of destruction, leaving
us to gaze on the ruins of the one house erected on the sand; while
we see the other remaining secure on the unmoved and unshaken rock,
in stern and tranquil defiance of all tempests and hurricanes. _See_
Matt. vii. 24-28.

We have more definite and more vivid impressions of the invisible
world--of the calm repose and fraternal fellowship of the saved, and
of the privations and anguish of the lost, when reading our Lord's
description of the condition of Lazarus and the rich man, than is
produced on our minds by his announcement of the issue of the day of
judgment, when the wicked go away into everlasting punishment, and
the righteous into life eternal. Luke xvi. 19-26.

The Work, under its new title, "THE SHEEPFOLD AND THE COMMON," has
undergone a very careful revision; many portions of the original
have been re-written, and others omitted to make room for new
matter of more interest and importance at the present time. While
carrying out the main object of the Work, as already adverted
to--namely, to present the grand doctrines of the Christian faith in
a pleasing and attractive manner--the Author has also endeavoured to
elucidate various topics important to the church at large and to the
well-being of society in general; and though he has not plunged into
the mazes of controversy, with the obscure and often unintelligible
advocates of the theological heresies of the age, yet many of the
more prominent of these have been subjected to a severe and, he
trusts, an impartial examination.

If the re-issue of this Work should prove as successful in conveying
spiritual life to the spiritually dead--in relieving the anxious
inquirer from his misgivings and perplexities--and in administering
the consolations of faith and hope to the devout believer, while
passing through the varied seasons of his eventful history, as it
proved in its less perfect and less attractive form--then, whether
living or dying, the Author will indulge the hope of meeting many,
at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will be to him a crown
of rejoicing for ever.

[Illustration: decoration]



CONTENTS.

VOL I.


                                         _Page_

  The Lonely Widow,                           1

  The Widow's Son,                           11

  The Widow's Son Reclaimed,                 21

  Fairmount,                                 32

  A Morning's Ramble,                        43

  The Horningsham Sailor,                    53

  The Rector of Broadhurst,                  65

  A Visit to the Rectory,                    76

  Saturday Evening at Fairmount,             92

  A Sabbath Morning at Fairmount,           107

  Sabbath Evening at Fairmount,             121

  The Bible Disdained,                      132

  The Bible Precious,                       149

  The Family of the Roscoes,                154

  The Social Party,                         164

  Miss Roscoe,                              174

  A Village Funeral,                        186

  Miss Roscoe withdraws from Gay Life,      197

  Fresh Perplexities,                       209

  The Religious Party,                      217

  Miss Roscoe,                              226

  The Family of the Lawsons,                235

  Calm Discussion,                          246

  Self-Delusion,                            257

  A Night Calamity,                         266

  A Surprise,                               276

  The Consultation,                         287

  The Dark Vale Illumined,                  297

  Intemperate Zeal,                         307

  Baptismal Regeneration a Fiction,         317

  The Retired Christian,                    328

  Spiritual Regeneration a Reality,         336

  The Evidences of Spiritual Regeneration,  346

  On Conversion,                            357

  The Tendency of Evangelical Preaching,    370

  On Attending an Evangelical Ministry,     383

  The Unhappy One,                          397

  The Scene Changes,                        410

  The Tractarian at Fault,                  421

  The Popular Delusion,                     443

  The Churchman's Lament,                   455

  Right at Last,                            478

  The Quakeress,                            495

  An Escape from a False Refuge,            518

  Christmas,                                544

  Winter Scenes,                            560

  On Apostolical Succession,                574



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

VOL. I.


                                                      _Page_

  THE OLD SHEPHERD,                          _Frontispiece_.

  WITHIN AND WITHOUT,                      _Engraved Title_.

  Return of the Widow's Son,                              22

  A Prospect of Fairmount,                                32

  First Interview with Farmer Pickford,                   47

  The Church of the Neglected Parish,                     66

  Mr. Guion's First Interview with the Misses Brownjohn,  82

  A Lamb of the Flock Borne to her Rest,                  87

  The Woodman's Family in Affliction,                    105

  "We Work on Sunday till Dinner-time,"                  110

  Mr. Tennent and the Tract-seller,                      151

  The House of Mourning,                                 187

  Evening Walk--Moonrise,                                261

  The Lost Child Restored,                               270

  The Dark Vale Illumined,                               300

  The Discussion in the Stage Coach,                     423

  Christmas Eve,                                         551

  The Death of the Woodman,                              570



THE

SHEEPFOLD AND THE COMMON.



THE LONELY WIDOW.


In the summer of the year 18--, I took an excursion through part
of the west of England; and after travelling on horseback several
days, I resolved to tarry at the beautiful village of Stanmoor.
Passing along, I stopped in front of a small but respectable looking
inn, whose honeysuckled porch and tidy exterior promised to afford
a tranquil and comfortable place of sojourn, and I made up my mind
to rest for a season beneath its humble roof. Having taken my
horse to the stable, and given the hostler instructions to take
good care of him, I was shown into a neat small back room, which
commanded a very beautiful view. As I stood gazing and musing while
the homely-looking landlady was preparing my coffee, the lines of
Milton's Morning Hymn recurred to my recollection; but never, till
that moment, had they produced such an exciting effect:--

    "These are thy glorious works, Parent of good:
     Almighty! Thine this universal frame:
     Thus wondrous fair! Thyself how wondrous then!
     Unspeakable: who sitt'st above these heav'ns,
     To us invisible, or dimly seen
     In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
     Thy goodness beyond thought, and pow'r divine."

My cogitations were interrupted by the landlady, who, as a mark of
respect, herself brought in my coffee, &c., put a small bell on the
table, and assured me, with a great deal of good-natured ease, that
she would endeavour to make me comfortable as long as I chose to
honour her house with my company. Having partaken of the provision
of the table, I resolved on taking a walk, and was told, that if I
turned short round to the right when past the clump of fir-trees, I
should soon come to a pleasant valley. This direction I followed;
and in about a quarter of an hour I entered one of the most romantic
vales I have ever visited. The sun was still gilding the tops of the
distant hills; the blue sky was enlivened by the song of the thrush,
and the responding notes of the yellow-hammer. As I walked on, my
attention was attracted by the bleating of a flock of sheep, which I
saw at a distance ascending a steep path, leading to a neighbouring
fold. I quickened my pace, that I might have some conversation with
the shepherd, who, with his dog, was bringing up the rear. He was an
old man of a swarthy complexion, and strongly marked features; his
gray hairs hung in locks over his shoulders, and his manners seemed
to indicate the presence of a superior mind. He made a courteous
bow; I saluted him, and remarked--"You are taking your flock home
to rest, which I hope sometimes reminds you of the approach of that
hour when you must rest from all your labours."

"Yes, it does; and, blessed be God, there is a rest provided for his
people."

This pious expression sprang a mine of exquisite feeling in my
breast; and I instantaneously felt a profound veneration and respect
for the old man, whom I now looked upon as a son of God in the
disguise of lowly and lonely humanity.

"I presume you know something about Jesus Christ, who is the way to
that place of rest."

"Yes, he is now my Saviour, though for many years I lived without
knowing anything about him. I often feel sorry when I think of the
many precious hours I have wasted by reading ballads and foolish
books, which I ought to have spent in reading my Bible."

"Do you ever attend a place of worship?"

"No, I never leave my flock."

"How, then, did you come to know anything about Jesus Christ?"

He put his hand into his pocket, and pulled out a tract, and said,
as the big tear dropped upon his cheek, "This is the blessed book
that made known to me a blessed Saviour; and I would not part with
it for all the world."

Feeling anxious to hold in my hand the instrument which had been
employed by the "Eternal Spirit" in turning this aged man from
darkness to light, I asked him to let me see the tract. It bore the
following title, which had become nearly obliterated by frequent
use:--"The Good Old Way; or the Religion of our Forefathers, as
explained in the Articles, Liturgy, and Homilies of the Church of
England." I said to him, "How did you get this tract?"

"A lady gave it me one day, about three years ago; I don't know her;
but I hope she will be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."

"How do you spend your leisure time now?"

"In reading my Bible, which tells me so much about that dear
Saviour, in whom, through grace, I have believed, and who is able to
keep that which I have committed to him against the great day."

"I suppose you are much more happy now than you were before you knew
him?"

This question brought over his countenance one of the finest
expressions of delight I ever beheld; and, after a short pause, he
said, "More happy, Sir! I never was happy till I obtained mercy; but
now I am happy, and expect before long to join that blessed company
we read of in the Revelation, who serve God day and night in his
temple."

Having made a few unimportant inquiries about his family, the state
of agriculture, and the population of the district, I wished him
a good night, and left him. As I passed along, I said to myself,
I should like to watch the countenance, and listen to the remarks
of this converted shepherd, while some philosophic sceptic, in
flippant style, or in graver tone and sarcastic sneer, says to
him, "Why, shepherd, you have been long living amidst visible and
splendid realities; but now, in your old age, you are living under
the spell of legendary delusions. The Deity whom you now adore
is nothing but the idol of your own creation. The reported facts
and doctrines of the Bible, which have had such an effect on your
imagination, are either fabulous tales or superstitious dogmas; and,
notwithstanding your airy flights into another world, you, like your
sheep, will cease to be, when death comes to release you from your
labours, for there is no other world."

With what indignant astonishment, blended with pity, would the old
shepherd look on such a man; doubting, for a few moments, whether
he was not some infernal spirit in the human form. I can easily
imagine he would reply: "It is odd, Sir, that such a poor ignorant
old man as I be, that has lived for more than sixty years without
thinking about God at all, should all at once, and without intending
to do it, create by the force of my fancy such a pure, benevolent,
and glorious Being, as I now believe God to be; who stoops from his
high and lofty throne to listen to my poor prayers, and to answer
them too. And it is mainly odd, Sir, methinks, that these tales of
the Bible, if they be fabulous, and these doctrines of the Bible,
if they be nothing but superstitious dogmas, as you call them,
should all at once, and without my thinking of such a thing being
done, work such a great and blessed change in my hard and wicked
heart, and should make me so happy as I now be. It is, methinks,
a main pity that they have not worked on your heart as they have
on mine, and then you would be about as unable and as unwilling to
doubt their truth as I be. You say, Sir, there is no other world;
I should like to know how you happen to know this? have you been
to the sun, and the moon, and all the stars, and every where else
to see? If you have not, according to my plain way of thinking, I
think it is a main act of presumption for you to say so. You tell me
that I shall cease to be at death, just as these sheep will cease
to be. I should like to know how you happen to know this. Has our
Maker spoken to you out of heaven, and told you so: or is it mere
guess-work with you? No, no, Sir; I am not going to take your random
guess-work sayings as true gospel; I like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
John too well for that; and now, to let you know my mind, I tell
you plainly, you come too late to make a poor man disbelieve his
Bible, if you don't come before he has felt the enlightening and
renewing and refreshing power of its blessed truths on his soul; he
has then the Witness within, and that's a witness that can't lie. I
won't give up the truthful testimony of this living Witness for your
random guess-work sayings, which you yourself can't know to be true.
I don't want, Sir, to offend you; but I look upon you as a false
prophet, who may deceive the wicked, but can't deceive a man who
fears God and loves Jesus Christ as I do, and shall do for ever."

Perfect stillness prevailed around; no sounds were heard but my own
footsteps, and the occasional notes of the nightingale, until I came
to a brake, when I heard the following verses of a favourite hymn,
though the singer was concealed:--

    "The calm retreat, the silent shade
       With prayer and praise agree;
     And seem by thy sweet bounty made
       For those who follow thee.

    "There, if thy Spirit touch the soul,
       And grace her mean abode,
     Oh! with what peace, and joy, and love,
       She communes with her God!

    "There, like the nightingale, she pours
       Her solitary lays;
     Nor asks a witness of her song,
       Nor thirsts for human praise.

    "Author and guardian of my life,
       Sweet source of light divine,
     And--all harmonious names in one--
       My Saviour! thou art mine.

    "What thanks I owe thee, and what love!
       A boundless, endless store,
     Shall echo through the realms above
       When time shall be no more."

I lingered here some time after the music had died away, luxuriating
in my own hallowed reflections; and then advancing a few steps, I
perceived, seated in a hollow, a decent middle-aged woman, and,
apparently, her daughter, who were thus pouring forth their evening
hymn of praise. I then returned to the inn, had my supper, and after
engaging in prayer with the family, retired to rest. In the morning
I rose early and revisited the vale, humming over, as I sauntered
along, the following suggestive and consolatory lines of a modern
poet:--

    "God is here; how sweet the sound!
       All I feel and all I see,
     Nature teems, above, around,
       With universal Deity.

    "Is there danger? Void of fear,
       Though the death-wing'd arrow fly,
     I can answer, God is here,
       And I move beneath his eye.

    "When I pray, he hears my pray'r;
       When I weep, he sees my grief:
     Do I wander? He is here,
       Ready to afford relief."

I reached the end of the walk before aware of it; when I saw a
cottage, towards which I bent my steps. It was small, yet tastefully
adorned with jessamine, honey-suckles, and rose-trees, with a neat
flower-garden in front, inclosed by a hawthorn hedge; and while
admiring its varied beauties, an elderly female made her appearance,
whose physiognomy and whose manners were very prepossessing. After
a little desultory conversation, as I stood resting my arm on the
top of her little wicket-gate, she invited me to come in and rest
myself. I accepted her invitation, and soon found that I was in
the society of one of the Lord's "hidden ones." My hostess was a
widow, whose husband had been dead about seven years. She informed
me that her father, a man of piety and of wealth, had given her
an education becoming his station; that at the age of seventeen
she yielded herself to God, as one alive from the dead, and before
she reached her twentieth year, she was married to one of the
most amiable and one of the most attentive men that ever became a
husband. A kind Providence smiled upon them during the first twelve
years of their wedded life, when a series of disasters befell them,
which turned their paradise of bliss into a valley of weeping. Her
father having made some large speculations in the wool-trade, lost
the whole of his property, and not having been inured to affliction
in his earlier days, his vigorous constitution gave way, and he
died, exclaiming, "Though I have lost all my worldly substance,
yet the pearl of great price is still mine." The insolvency of her
father shook public confidence in the commercial respectability of
her husband, who was soon obliged to call together his creditors;
and though there was more than sufficient property to meet their
demands, yet, by making him a bankrupt, they did not receive quite
half their amount. When his affairs were wound up, and he had
obtained his certificate, his friends raised a subscription for him,
and he recommenced business; but the hand of the Lord was against
him, and he could not succeed.

An interesting daughter, who, from the age of seven years, had been
seeking the Lord, was so overwhelmed by the afflictions of her
parents, that she fell into a rapid decline; and though there were
occasionally some bright prospects of her recovery, yet at last the
night of death came and sealed up the vision of life. The father,
who was a man of a very delicate frame, gradually sank beneath his
accumulated trials, and left his widow with a son, without any
resources for their future maintenance.

Her son was sent to a boarding-school, where he was educated at the
expense of his uncle; and as the place of her nativity had lost
all its attractions, she chose to retire to the lonely cottage in
which I found her, where He who multiplied the widow's oil has never
suffered her to want any good thing.

An occasional tear fell from her eye while she was relating this
tale of woe, yet there was a dignified composure in her countenance,
and that led me to remark--"I presume, Madam, that though you have
met with such severe losses, you have not lost your confidence in
God, nor the peace of mind it yields."

"No, Sir; I have enjoyed in this cottage more of the Divine
presence than I ever felt in the days of prosperity, and would not
willingly return to the world, and hazard the loss of my spiritual
consolations, could I obtain its highest prizes. I know that my
afflictions have been sent by my heavenly Father, who is too wise
to err, and too good to act unkindly. He has designs to accomplish,
by his dispensations, which may appear to us mysterious, because
to us they are unknown; but though clouds and darkness are round
about him, yet righteousness and judgment are the habitation of
his throne. I now find the wells of salvation yield sweeter waters
than when resorted to in former times, and my prospect of future
glory is brighter and more animating than in the days of my greatest
prosperity."

On expressing my surprise that she could willingly reside where the
means of grace could not be fully enjoyed, she informed me that
she was not deprived of these privileges. "If you look in that
direction, you will see a spire rising among the trees on yonder
hill. In that church the gospel is preached in its purity and in
its power, and the Rector, who is an amiable man, usually preaches
on Sabbath morning, when I attend. In the afternoon I stay at home
and meditate on what I have heard; and in the evening I go to hear
an excellent minister of Christ, who preaches in a small Dissenting
chapel at the other end of our hamlet."

"Then you are no bigot?"

"No, I love all who love Christ; and to me it is immaterial where I
go, if I can obtain an interview with Him, whom unseen I love."

"As the gospel is preached in your village, I hope you have met with
some with whom you can enjoy Christian fellowship."

"Yes, the Lord has a few in this modern Sardis who have escaped the
general pollution, and are walking worthy their high vocation. We
meet once in the week for prayer and conversation, and are often
favoured with times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord."

"Have you ever had any conversation with a pious shepherd, who feeds
his flock in your beautiful vale?"

"O yes, he is often our chaplain. The word of Christ dwells in him
richly. He has an excellent gift in prayer, and is an Israelite
indeed; a beautiful specimen of the new-creating power of the
Almighty."

"But do you never wish to reside in a town, where you could enjoy an
extensive intercourse with the religious world?"

"O no; I have lived long enough to know that a few select friends,
whose minds are uncontaminated by the censorious spirit of the
age, are a richer treasure than a promiscuous throng, enslaved and
governed by sectarian prejudices."

The room in which we were conversing was neatly furnished; a few
pictures decorated one of the side walls, and a small library was
placed in the centre of the opposite. I found among the books a copy
of Robinson's _Village Sermons_, and on taking it from the shelf, I
observed, "Robinson was an extraordinary man, but the eventide of
his life was comparative darkness."

"Yes, it was; but the productions of his pen have often yielded
me pure mental enjoyment; and, if you will permit me, I will show
you a passage in one of his sermons, which I never read without
bearing a personal testimony to its accuracy:--'Is it a benefit to
understand the spirit and see the beauty of the Holy Scriptures?
Afflictions teach Christians the worth of their Bibles, and so wrap
up their hearts in the oracles of God. The Bible is but an insipid
book to us before afflictions bring us to feel the want of it, and
then how many comfortable passages do we find which lay neglected
and unknown before! I recollect an instance in a history of some
who fled from persecution in this country to that then wild desert,
America. Among many other hardships, they were sometimes in such
straits for bread, that the very crusts of their former tables in
England would have been a dainty to them. Necessity drove the women
and children to the sea-side to look for a ship expected to bring
them provisions; but no ship for many weeks appeared; however, they
saw in the sands vast quantities of shell-fish, since called clams,
a sort of mussels. Hunger impelled them to taste, and at length they
fed almost wholly on them, and to their own astonishment were as
cheerful, fat, and lusty as they had been in England with their fill
of the best provisions. A worthy man one day, after they had all
dined on clams without bread, returned God thanks for causing them
to _suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the
sand_--a passage in the 33d chapter of Deuteronomy, a part of the
blessing with which Moses blessed the tribe of Zebulun before his
death; a passage till then unobserved by the company, but which ever
after endeared the writings of Moses to them."

Just as she finished reading, a farmer-looking man came to the door
with a letter, which Mrs. Lewellin took and opened with eagerness.
She wept as she read, and involuntarily exclaimed--"O George! my
son, my son!" Unwilling to withhold consolation from one who had
passed through such fiery trials, I asked her if she had received
any intelligence of a very painful nature.

"Yes," she said, while endeavouring to suppress the rising grief of
her heart, "I have a letter from my dear boy, who has resided in
London for the last two years. He is very ill. O Sir! if----." A
long silence ensued, which was interrupted only by the expressions
of strong maternal grief. "If he had felt the power of divine grace
changing his heart----." She wept again. "But I fear he has been
drawn away from religion by evil companions. Oh! if he were to die,
where could I ever find rest? This is a trial which pierces my
heart."

"I am not surprised to witness such excessive grief; but may not
this affliction be sent to elicit the meaning of some obscure
passage of the Sacred Volume? Unto the upright there ariseth light
in the darkness; that is, deliverance comes when most needed, but as
often when least expected. The set time for your son's conversion
may be nigh at hand; and He who worketh all things after the counsel
of His own will may now be making the necessary preparations for
this great event; so that your mourning may very soon be turned into
rejoicing."

"If the Lord should be pleased to renew the soul of my dear boy, I
shall, like the father, when he saw his prodigal son retracing his
steps to his long-deserted home, feel an ecstasy of joy. The crisis
in his moral history may be coming. I will betake myself to special
prayer, and in faith and hope wait the issue. Nothing is impossible
with God."



THE WIDOW'S SON.


George Lewellin, the son of the lonely widow, at the decease of his
father was twelve years of age. He finished his education under the
direction of his uncle; and, having attained his seventeenth year,
he was placed in a merchant's counting-house in London. In person
he was tall and slender, prepossessing in appearance and manners,
unreserved in disposition, of an amiable temper, and disposed, from
the ingenuous sincerity of his heart, to regard every one as his
friend who courted his society. Soon after his entrance on his new
course of life, he received an affectionate letter from his mother,
cautioning him against the many temptations of the metropolis:--

"As, my dear George, you are removed from under the immediate
inspection of your friends, and will be exposed to a variety of
temptations, permit me to urge upon you the importance of reading
the Scriptures daily, of regularly attending some place of worship
on the Sabbath-day, and of avoiding the company of the gay and
dissipated. If companions entice you to the play-house, to card
parties, or to places of public amusement, do not allow them to
prevail upon you; for, if you once give way to their entreaties,
you will soon be overcome. I have had many trials. I have lost my
property; I have buried your lovely sister; I have wept over the
tomb of your pious father; and to see you turning your back on
religion, would bring my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. But
I hope better things of you, though I thus write. Let me hear from
you soon, and often; and give me a faithful account of how you spend
your time; and believe me to be yours, most affectionately," &c.

His reply will give the reader some insight into the state of his
mind and situation:--

"MY DEAR MOTHER,--I thank you for your kind letter. Yes; you have
had many trials, but I hope you have, at least, one living comfort
left. To promote your happiness will be, I trust, the constant
effort of my life; and as I know something of the value of prayer,
I hope you will always have me in remembrance when at a throne of
grace. I have a good room at a Mr. Jordan's, in the City Road. Mr.
Jordan is a plain, pious man, and his wife appears very amiable.
They have no children, and they treat me as their son. I very much
like the situation which my uncle has procured for me. There are,
in the office, three clerks besides myself, but they are all my
seniors. The oldest is married, and has a family. The next is the
son of a Friend, but he has thrown off the plain garb, and often
ridicules the simple mode of speech for which that scrupulous people
are distinguished. The other is the only son of a country esquire of
large fortune. They treat me with the greatest kindness; and so does
the gentleman in whose service I have the honour of being employed.
My time is fully occupied; and though business is new to me, yet I
begin to find the difficulties attending it giving way. I will try
to please, and I hope shall be successful. As I know you feel more
anxious about my spiritual than my temporal prosperity, I shall
give you an account of the manner in which I spend my Sabbaths. I
regularly attend church twice a-day, and have already heard some of
the most celebrated preachers in London, but have not yet determined
to what congregation I shall attach myself. Variety is charming,
but I rather think that a stated ministry is the most profitable. I
often think of you and your lovely retreat, and wish I could pop in
upon you to receive the maternal blessing."

A material change soon took place in the principles and habits of
young Lewellin, and it may be proper to give a brief account of
those to whose influence it may be ascribed. The senior clerk in the
office was an amiable man, but his mind was deeply tinctured by the
deistical sentiments of the age. He would occasionally throw out
some insinuations against _professors_; but as he perceived it gave
Lewellin pain, he was rather sparing in his remarks. Mr. Gordon, the
semi-Quaker, was less guarded; and, being a young man of a ready
wit and polished manners, he became a dangerous companion. Having
been educated under a severe discipline, which taught him to regard
the cut of the coat and the construction of a sentence as important
if not essential branches of religion, he had imbibed deep-rooted
prejudices against it; and, though still in regular attendance at
meeting _on first-day morning_, yet he usually spent the other parts
of the Sabbath at some place of public resort. His respectability
introduced him into the best society, and his principles fitted
him for the worst. He narrowly watched Lewellin; and resolved to
emancipate him, if possible, from under the control of his religious
opinions and habits; and he proceeded with great caution in this
work of moral destruction, being aware that, if his principles were
stormed before they were undermined, he should excite a powerful
resistance. Having laid his plan of seduction, he soon began to
carry it into execution. On leaving the office one evening, he
politely asked Lewellin to spend an hour with him. Lewellin frankly
accepted his invitation, and they had a long conversation together,
during which Gordon displayed so much good-nature, such a fund of
anecdote, and such a rich vein of wit, that he gained an entire
ascendency over his friend, who expressed a desire that the intimacy
now formed might be perpetuated. The clock struck eleven, when
Lewellin suddenly started from his chair, and took his hat and
cane; but was detained two hours longer by the powerful attractions
of his companion. At length he bade him good-night. As he passed
down Fleet Street, his conscience began to smite him. "What would
my dear mother _feel_ if she knew where I am at this hour!" But,
having resolved that he would never again be guilty of such an act
of imprudence, his faithful monitor was hushed to silence:--"He is
a charming man!--What an extensive knowledge of the world!--What
a fund of anecdote; and how well he narrates and describes! A new
scene is opening before me." Thus he talked to himself, till he
reached his lodgings, where he found the family very much alarmed.

"Dear Sir," said Mrs. Jordan, as soon as the passage door was
opened, "we are very glad to see you. We were fearful that you had
lost yourself, or that some greater evil had befallen you."

"I am sorry," replied Lewellin, "that I have kept you up so late;
but Mr. Gordon pressed me to spend the evening with him, and the
time slipped by before I was aware of it."

"I am glad to see you home," said Mr. Jordan; "and, as we have been
expecting you every minute for the last three hours, we have not
yet had family prayer." The good man knelt down, and prayed most
affectionately for his young friend, who stood exposed to so many
temptations.

Next day Lewellin went to the office as usual, but nothing
particular occurred till the evening, when Gordon asked him to
accept the loan of a book, which he had no doubt would amuse him. He
took it, and hastened home to peruse it. Immediately after tea he
retired to his own room. He opened the volume, read the title-page,
threw the book on the table, and exclaimed, "No; I'll not read it.
I gave my word of honour to my mother that I would never read a
novel; and I will not sacrifice my honour to please any friend." He
paced the room backwards and forwards for some time, reflecting
on the past evening, till the thoughts of his heart troubled him,
when he seated himself in the arm-chair which was standing near
the table. As the book was elegantly bound, he took it up, and
examined the workmanship; read the whole of the title-page, and
then the preface; and, finding nothing very objectionable, he read
on, till startled by a knock at the door. "Who is there?" "Will you
come down to supper, Sir?" He took out his watch, and found that
he had been reading two hours, and as it was the first novel he
ever read, it had so deeply fixed his attention, that he had nearly
finished it before he felt conscious of what he was doing. "Yes,
yes, I'll come presently; but don't wait." "Let me see, there are
thirty more pages; I'll finish it." He read on, but the charm was
broken by a recollection of his vow; and he again threw the book
from him, exclaiming, "Fascinating wretch, thou hast beguiled me
of my honour!" He hastened out of the room, that he might avoid
the reflections of his own mind; and when he entered the parlour,
he found an interesting young man, of whom he had often heard Mr.
Jordan speak. This young man was intelligent and pious, highly
accomplished in his manners, and just on the eve of being married.
After supper he engaged in family prayer; and when offering up his
devout thanksgivings to the God of all grace, for preserving him
from the paths of the destroyer, and guiding his feet in the way of
peace, he made a natural transition to the situation of Lewellin,
and most fervently prayed that he might be enabled to escape the
pollution of the world, and consecrate himself to the service of the
God of his fathers. Lewellin endeavoured to conceal his emotions,
but the recollection of his having that night sacrificed his honour,
threw such a melancholy air over his countenance, that Mrs. Jordan,
who felt deeply interested in his welfare, abruptly asked him if he
was unwell. The question perplexed him; but assuming his ordinary
cheerfulness, he replied, "No, Madam." Having sat a little longer,
he took leave of the company, and retired to rest. On casting his
eye on the book, as he stood musing, he said, "Well, I don't know
that I have received any moral injury from reading it; and perhaps
my mother did wrong to press me to pledge my word that I would not
read a novel."

Next Sabbath Mr. Gordon called on him in the afternoon, and asked
him to accompany him to the Lock, to hear a celebrated preacher. As
they were passing through St. James's Park, they met Mr. Phillips
(the other clerk in the office), with three ladies. The meeting
appeared accidental; and as Mr. Phillips pressed his friends to do
him and the ladies the honour of their company, politeness induced a
compliance, and the whole party took an excursion on the river. They
did not return till late; and it was past twelve before Lewellin
reached his lodgings. On entering the parlour he made an apology
for not being home earlier, and to avoid being embarrassed by any
questions, took his candle, and retired to his own room. He sat
himself down; but the sight of the Bible, which lay on the table,
agonized his feelings, and he began to reproach himself in the
bitterest terms. "Yes, a new scene is opening before me; but what a
scene! No; I will break the charm before I am completely enslaved!
My mother does not know it.----But the eye of God----I cannot
conceal myself from him. Woe is me! I am lost! I am undone! No; I
will repent. I will ask for mercy." He threw himself on his bed, and
after hours of mental torture and bitter lamentation he fell asleep;
but he was scared by the visions of the night, and when the light
of the morning dawned, it brought no tidings of peace. At length he
arose, and went to the office, where he met his companions in guilt,
but his mind was too much depressed to allow him to be cheerful; and
the references which were made to the excursion of the preceding
evening aggravated his misery. When the business of the day was
closed, he walked away in silent sadness; but he had not gone far
before Gordon overtook him, and invited him to take some refreshment
in a coffee-house. He strongly objected--and then consented.

"I perceive," said Gordon, "that you are unhappy, and I guess the
cause. You suffer your noble mind to be tortured by the tales of the
nursery. Treat them with contempt."

"No, I am not tortured by the tales of the nursery, but by the
reflections of a guilty conscience."

"Conscience," said Gordon, smiling; "I had such a thing once, but as
it stood in the way of my love of pleasure, I got rid of it, and now
I am happy, because I am free. And I assure you that you will never
be fitted to enjoy life till you form juster notions of the Deity
than religion inspires; and till you open your heart to the sublime
gratifications which the society and amusements of this far-famed
city afford. Come, give way to the impulse of your generous nature,
and accompany me this evening."

"Where?"

"Where you shall have a mental feast."

Lewellin, expecting that Gordon was going to a Philosophical
Society, of which he was a member, gave his consent; nor was he
undeceived, till he found himself seated in a box at Drury Lane
Theatre. His conscience smote him; but as he had been decoyed there,
the faithful reprover was soon silenced; the curtain was drawn, and
the stage exhibited a scene which was not only new but captivating.
When the play was over, Gordon said, "I have watched your
countenance during the whole of the tragedy, and I perceive that you
have an instinctive taste for the drama. Yes, Lewellin, this is the
school to exalt the genius and amend the heart. Here our manners
are polished, our taste is refined, and those moral sentiments are
inculcated which make the man _the gentleman_."

On leaving the theatre they adjourned to an hotel, where they
ordered supper, and as they sat conversing together till a very late
hour, they decided on sleeping there. The Rubicon was now passed,
and Lewellin, having tasted of the forbidden fruit, resolved to
rid himself of his Puritanical notions (as he began to term his
religious sentiments), that he might enjoy life. The first step he
took was to write a letter to his kind friend, Mr. Jordan, to say
that circumstances rendered it inconvenient for him to reside so far
from the office, and therefore he was under the painful necessity
of taking another set of rooms; he added, "I will call and settle
with you; and I will thank you to send my dressing-case, &c., by
the bearer." He then told his friend Gordon what he had done, who
congratulated him on his _courage_, and assured him that he was
welcome to accommodation in his apartments until he could suit
himself better.

The seducer having now got his victim in his own power, hurried
him through the various stages of vice with almost breathless
impetuosity. The theatre, the billiard-room, the tavern, and other
places, were alternately visited; and he who a few months before was
horror-struck at the sight of a novel, could now occupy the seat
of a scorner. But he was not suffered to remain there undisturbed.
Conscience would sometimes inflict the most poignant wounds. The
thought of home, of his pious father and sister, of the day of
judgment, and of his loving mother, drove him at times almost
frantic; when, after pronouncing a secret curse on his companion,
he would plunge himself deeper in iniquity, that he might gain a
momentary relief. To follow him through the course of impiety which
he ran for the space of two years, during which time he involved
himself in debt and in hopeless misery, would afford the reader no
gratification. Disease, which had been for some time destroying
his health, and impairing the vigour of his constitution, now
incapacitated him for business, and he was obliged to keep to his
apartments, which were near those of Mr. Gordon. For several days
after his confinement he received no attention from his friend, and
that left his mind more at liberty to take the black review.

He reproached himself--he reproached the destroyer of his peace--he
wept, but he could not pray. He wrote a letter to his pious mother,
but he burned it--he wrote another, and burned it. He wrote to his
friend, Mr. Jordan, whom he had not seen since he left his house,
and, just as he was directing it, the servant announced Mr. Gordon.

"Well, George, how are you?"

"Ill, very ill, and you are the cause of it!"

"I the cause of it!"

"Yes, you enticed me from the paths of virtue into the paths of
vice, and though I reproach myself for my folly in giving way to
your entreaties, yet, Sir, you are the seducer."

"Ah! Lewellin, you are got back to the tales of the nursery. Come,
come, pluck up your spirits. You will soon get better. What does the
doctor say? I was at Drury last night, and never had a finer treat."

"The doctor gives me but little hope, and your present conversation
gives me less pleasure. If I die, I must appear before my Judge, and
am I (wringing his hands) prepared? No!"

"Well, then, I will be off, but don't play the fool; die like a man.
Phillips says he'll call to see you to-morrow, but I suppose a visit
from some of the godly will be more acceptable."

"I want a visit from some one who can minister to a mind diseased."

"Well, good-bye. But die like a man, if you are doomed to death."

He was now left alone, irresolute--alarmed. He rings. "Put that
letter in the post immediately." Is more composed. Mr. Jordan called
on him next morning, and when he saw him could not refrain from
weeping. Lewellin cautiously concealed from him the cause of his
illness, but informed him that the doctor gave but little hope of
his life.

"Does your dear mother know how you are?"

"No, I do not like to alarm her; but if I do not get better in a few
days, I think I shall endeavour to go down and see her, and if I
must die, I hope to die in her arms."

"I have called several times at your office since you left my house,
but you were either engaged, or not within, and we have often
wondered why you never came to see us. We have always had you in
remembrance at a throne of grace."

"Ah! had I never left your house, I should not have been reduced to
that state of wretchedness and woe in which you now see me. I was
seduced by a worthless companion, and now--(he made a long pause)--I
have cut short my life; I have ruined my soul; I shall break my
mother's heart. O eternity! how I dread thee."

The tender feelings of Mr. Jordan were so strongly excited by the
looks and the expressions of Lewellin, that he could make no reply
for several minutes. At length he said, "But the chief of sinners
may obtain mercy."

"Yes, I know that the chief of sinners may obtain mercy, if they
repent and believe; but I cannot do either. I have fitted myself for
destruction, and now I must prepare to go where the worm dieth not,
and where the fire will never be quenched."

"Do not despair of mercy."

"Yes, I must. Despair gives me more relief than hope."

"Shall I pray with you?"

"It is too late."

"Consent."

"Then pray for my dear mother; pray that her mind may be prepared
for the distressing news which will soon reach her ears. I have
deceived her."

Mr. Jordan knelt down and prayed; but his importunity merely served
to invest the pang of despair with an additional degree of terror.

"All is useless--

    'The help of men and angels join'd
    Can never reach my case.'"

"That's true, my dear young friend, but"----

"Pardon me for interrupting you, but I dare not ask for mercy.
Justice demands a victim, and I must die."

"But mercy pleads."

"Yes, but she will never plead for me."

"Do try to pray."

"No, I am not disposed to offer a fresh insult to God. He has
rejected me. I know my doom. It is irrevocably fixed. I deserve all
I suffer, and all I have to suffer."

Mr. Jordan now left him, but called again the next evening, when he
found him rather better and more composed, and was gratified to hear
that he had written a letter to his mother, informing her of his
indisposition, and that she might expect to see him in the space of
a few days, as he had been recommended to try the effect of a change
of air.



THE WIDOW'S SON RECLAIMED.


The influence of Divine truth on the youthful mind is often very
salutary; it keeps the conscience tender, even when it does not keep
it pure; it inspires an awe of God, and a secret dread of evil,
even when it does not root out of the heart a predilection for it;
and secures an external consistency of moral deportment, even while
the mind remains unchanged. But such is the extreme degeneracy of
our nature, that its sinful appetites and propensities will often
burst through the most powerful restraints, and the fascinating
temptations of an evening, or even a single hour, will often render
apparently useless all the efforts of a long and painstaking course
of domestic instruction and discipline. Hence the youth who has
been trained up in the "fear of the Lord," on finding himself
removed from under the watchful eye of parental solicitude, may,
after a momentary hesitation, yield to the ensnaring seductions
of the world, and launch forth into scenes of impurity and vice,
braving the consequences; and though occasionally disturbed by
some compunctious visitations, yet he passes on, contemning his
early religious impressions, and treating with profane levity those
momentous truths which once overawed and animated his soul. But can
he proceed without meeting with some formidable resistances? Can
he forget that the piercing eye of God follows him through all the
windings and doublings of his course? Can he shake off the dread
of futurity, and bid his dark forebodings cease? No; conscience
stands in his way, and disputes his passage, by turning against him
the sword of truth, which often inflicts a wound too deep even for
intemperance to heal or soothe. He sighs for peace, but peace comes
not; for there is no peace to the wicked.

To indulge the hope of reclaiming such a youth by the mere force
of terror or persuasion, would be a visionary prospect; yet, have
we never seen the prodigal return? Have we never heard the parent
exclaim, "For this my son was dead, but is alive again; he was lost,
but is found?"

George Lewellin left London a few days after he had communicated
the state of his health to his mother, and reached her home the
following morning; when she saw him, as he was opening the wicket
gate in front of the house, she sprang up, ran, fell on his neck,
and kissed him. The interview was affecting; and it was some moments
before either of them could speak. On raising her eyes to survey
the once lovely form of her only son, now emaciated by disease, she
could not refrain from exclaiming, as she pressed him still closer
to her agonized bosom, "O, George, what's the matter? How long have
you been ill? Why did you conceal your illness from me?"

"Be composed, mother; I am better, and have no doubt but relaxation
from business, and the fresh air of the country, will be the means
of bringing me about again. The porter is waiting with my trunk; I
will thank you to satisfy him for his trouble, as I have no change."

During the first week after his arrival he began to mend; and all
indulged a hope of his speedy recovery; but disease had taken too
deep root in his constitution to be suddenly eradicated; and within
a fortnight the fever returned with increasing violence, setting at
defiance the skill of the physician, who confessed that his life was
in the most imminent danger. He now took to his bed, and said to a
young friend who called to see him: "I shall never leave this room
till I am carried out by the ministers of death." On the following
Sabbath, his mother ventured to ask him how he felt in prospect of
death. This question agitated him. He became restless, a sullen
gloom was thrown over his countenance, and he remained silent. This
silence inflicted a deeper wound in her tender bosom than the most
piercing cries of mental anguish; and though she endeavoured to
conceal her grief, yet she was unable to do so. "O, George, do tell
me. When I lost your father, I had the consolation of knowing that
he was gone to heaven; and your dear departed sister said, just
before she left me, 'Weep not for me, for I shall soon see the King
in his beauty;' and will _you die_ without allowing me to indulge
the hope of meeting you in heaven?"

[Illustration:

DRAWN BY G. H. THOMAS.      ENGRAVED BY W. L. THOMAS.

RETURN OF THE WIDOW'S SON.

Vol. i. page 23.]

"My dear mother, I have deceived you once, but deception is now at
an end; I have 'trampled under foot the blood of the covenant,' and
that blood is now crying for vengeance against me. I know my doom;
and, however painful it may be to your feelings to see your own
child lingering out the few remaining days of his life, without one
cheering hope, yet I _do_ request that you will not embitter my last
hours by making any allusions to heaven."

"O, George, my child!"

"O, my mother, I am undone!"

As his mind was in such a perturbed state, Mrs. Lewellin thought it
prudent to turn the current of conversation; and, after listening
to a detailed account of his course of life when in London, she
retired to try the efficacy of prayer. In the evening a pious young
friend called to see him, to whom he said, "I will thank you to
remove that Bible out of my sight, for its very presence agonizes
me. Such a book ought not to lie near such a wretch as I am. It is
like compelling the criminal to ride on his own coffin to the place
of execution."

"But, my dear Sir, that holy book contains a revelation of mercy and
grace to sinners, and offers salvation to the chief."

"I know all that, and therefore I wish it removed; for I have made
sport with the revelation of mercy."

"But the Lord waits to be gracious."

"No; he is now laughing at my calamity; and soon the curtain of life
will drop, and then his injured justice will be glorified in my
condemnation. Give me a draught of water."

He drank the whole in haste; and, on giving back the cup, said,
"It would afford me some relief if I could hope to find a spring
of water in hell. But, no; not one drop there to cool my parched
tongue!"

"O, George, do not put from you the words of peace."

"The words of peace, to my soul, are like the dragon's sting or the
viper's bite; and the voice of mercy sounds more awful in my ears
than the footsteps of vengeance. I know my doom; and if you wish me
to have a moment's calm while the respite lasts, talk of earth, of
its joys, or of its sorrows; but bring me not near the spot where
Mercy died for man."

The fever, which had remained stationary for several days, now
raged with uncontrolled violence, without impairing the vigour or
acuteness of his intellect, and all expected that a few hours would
terminate his mortal career. His mother hung over him, breathing
the purest and most ardent affection; but she was not permitted
to instil the consolations of religion, and that at length so
overpowered her feelings that she was obliged to retire, leaving her
only son the victim of despair. His eye followed her as she left
the room; and when the door closed, he burst into a flood of tears,
exclaiming, "The doom that awaits me would be less terrible, if I
could have concealed it from my mother. I have destroyed myself,
and plunged the fatal dagger into her breast. O, thou holy, thou
righteous God, thou art clear when thou judgest, and just when thou
condemnest! Have pity on my dear mother, and support her soul under
this awful visitation of thy vengeance!"

He now became more composed; but on hearing the clock strike eleven,
he started up in bed, asked for a large draught of cold water, and
expressed an ardent wish to see his mother once more, as he was
apprehensive that life was just on the eve of departing. A female
attendant went to call her, but she was asleep; and on returning,
she asked if she should awake her. After a long pause, he said,
"No; let her sleep on, and take her rest, and I will die alone, and
spare her the agony of hearing the last tremendous groan, which is
to announce my entrance into hell." He then requested that another
pillow might be placed under his head; and turning himself on his
left side, he laid himself down to expire. In about a quarter of an
hour the nurse, who was standing by his side, gently whispered, "I
think he is gone;" but on feeling his pulse, she soon ascertained
that he was in a profound sleep. He slept for several hours, during
which time the fever very much abated, and when he awoke he said,
with a firm tone, "I now think I shall recover."

"Yes, my child," replied Mrs. Lewellin, "the Lord has heard my
prayers, and answered them, by sparing your life; and I have no
doubt but he will answer them further by making this affliction the
means of bringing you to repentance, and the enjoyment of fellowship
with him."

This appropriate remark made a deep impression; he looked at his
mother, but said nothing. His recovery was as rapid as his relapse
had been dangerous; and though his strength was greatly impaired,
yet he was able to leave his room in the early part of the ensuing
week. Being now rescued from the brink of death, and animated with
the hope of returning health, as he sat alone musing over the awful
scene through which he had so recently passed, he laid his hand on
a hymn-book, which was placed on the table, and read the following
hymn with intense interest:--

    "When with my mind devoutly press'd,
     Dear Saviour, my revolving breast
       Would past offences trace;
     Trembling I make the black review,
     Yet pleased behold, admiring too,
       The pow'r of changing grace.

    "This tongue with blasphemies defil'd,
     These feet in erring paths beguil'd,
       In heavenly league agree.
     Who could believe such lips could praise,
     Or think my dark and winding ways
       Should ever lead to thee?

    "These eyes, that once abused their sight,
     Now lift to thee their wat'ry light,
       And weep a silent flood;
     These hands ascend in ceaseless pray'r;
     O wash away the stains they wear,
       In pure redeeming blood.

    "These ears that, pleased, could entertain
     The midnight oath, the lustful strain,
       When round the festal board;
     Now, deaf to all th' enchanting noise,
     Avoid the throng, detest the joys,
       And press to hear thy word.

    "Thus art thou serv'd in ev'ry part;
     O would'st thou more transform my heart,
       This drossy thing refine;
     That grace might nature's strength control,
     And a new creature, body, soul,
       Be, Lord, for ever thine."

While reading these verses, the determination he had formed to live
and die without hope, was shaken; but after a momentary pause, he
involuntarily exclaimed, in an under tone of utterance, "It would
be an act of presumption for me to indulge a hope of ever feeling
the power of 'changing grace.' No, it cannot be; my heart is too
hard. I am too impure, too depraved, too guilty." This novel train
of thought was broken off by the entrance of his mother into the
parlour, who was surprised and delighted by seeing him with the
hymn-book, which he still held in his hand. Without appearing to
notice it, after a casual reference to the good prospect of his
speedy restoration to health, she said, "I hope, my dear George,
as you are now able to visit your friends, that you will accompany
me in the evening to chapel, where you will hear a most excellent
minister."

"I will go to oblige you, but I can anticipate no other pleasure."

"But you may derive some profit, for there the Lord condescends to
make the truth effectual to the salvation of them that believe.'

"But I cannot believe, no, I cannot; I would, but I cannot!"

"But faith, my dear child, comes by hearing; and who can tell but
this night you may feel the power of changing grace."

After tea, Mrs. Lewellin and her son walked to the chapel; and
though there were no splendid decorations to allure the devotee of
superstition, nor any sculptured forms to attract the attention of
the sentimental worshipper, yet it was invested with unrivalled
charms in her estimation, as the place where

    "----The Father sits supreme,
       As King Eternal, to receive
     Petitions that his servants bring,
       The homage which his subjects give."

The reading, the singing, and the prayer accorded with the general
tone of feeling which a select congregation usually enjoy; and
though young Lewellin conducted himself with the greatest degree
of decorum, yet it was not till after the text was announced that
he appeared interested in the service. The preacher was a young
man, of a correct taste, strong intellectual powers, and bold and
animated address; but the subject which he had chosen for discussion
was more adapted to establish the Christian in his faith, than
reclaim the sinner from the error of his ways. The text was taken
from 1st Corinthians, vi. 17: _He that is joined unto the Lord is
one spirit_. There were no flights of lofty imagination in the
composition of the discourse; no powerful appeals to the conscience;
no master-strokes of argument, levelled against either the root
or branches of infidelity; no terrific enunciations of the Divine
displeasure; but a calm and spiritual explanation and defence
of the doctrine of our union with Jesus Christ. The service was
concluded without having produced any visible effects on Lewellin,
who walked away with his mother, and the only remark he made was,
"I never heard such a sermon before." She knew not how to interpret
the meaning of this ambiguous expression, and made no reply, lest,
by coming in contact with his deistical opinions, she should be
incapable of persuading him to accompany her at a future time.
On entering the parlour, he took a candle and retired to his own
room, which gave his mother a private opportunity of imploring the
blessing of Heaven on the service of the evening. After waiting a
considerable time, she began to feel uneasy, and went to the bottom
of the stairs to listen; but on hearing his footsteps as he paced
his chamber, she resumed her seat. An hour had now elapsed since
she had seen him; the ambulating motion was no longer heard, her
fears were strongly excited, and being unable to suppress them, she
stole up softly to his door, and listening a while with breathless
anxiety, she heard, or thought she heard, an indistinct sound; she
then looked through the keyhole of the door, and lo! he was on his
knees in prayer. Had she seen visions of God, she might have been
more awed, but she could not have been more delighted. She wept as
she descended the stairs, but they were such tears as sorrow never
sheds. Her heart was full, and she gave vent to her enraptured
feeling at the footstool of His throne who had caused grace to
abound where sin had been reigning nigh unto death.

At supper her son appeared very sedate, absorbed in deep thought;
yet there was a serenity in his countenance, and an ease in his
manner, which bespoke the composure of his mind. "I think," said
his mother, "that the discourse we heard this evening placed the
happiness and security of the Christian on such a firm basis, that
we might have concluded the service by singing the beautiful lines
of Toplady:--

    'Yes, I to the end shall endure,
      As sure as the earnest is given,
    More happy, but not more secure,
      The glorified spirits in heaven.'"

"You might have sung these words, because you are a Christian, but
how could I have responded to them?"

"I hope, my dear George, you liked the sermon."

"I never heard such a sermon; at least I never heard a sermon which
produced such an effect on my mind. I could have listened till
midnight. I felt what I never felt before."

Yes! that night he felt the power of "changing grace," and the
change produced in his opinions, taste, and habits, soon became
conspicuous; and while it excited the ridicule of some, the
gratitude of others, and the astonishment of all, it was as a
witness raised from the dead to give a fresh testimony to the
divine origin of the truth which had been the means of effecting
it. He who had been a bold blasphemer, now became a man of prayer;
the intoxicating cup was exchanged for the wine of the kingdom;
the Sabbath was hallowed as a day of rest; and the amusements
and dissipations of the world were forsaken for the more refined
enjoyments of devotion.

As soon as his health was re-established, he began to prepare for
his return to his situation in London; and though he recoiled
from the prospect of being compelled to associate with his former
companions, yet he indulged the hope of being able to reclaim them
from the destructive paths of sin. He wrote to his friend, Mr.
Jordan, with whom he lodged when he first went to London, to inform
him of the change which had taken place, and to request permission
to become once more an inmate in his pious family. To this letter he
received a very encouraging reply; and the following week was fixed
on for his departure.

But he could not consent to leave the place where he had passed
from death to life--from the miseries of one world to the sublime
anticipations of another--till he had borne a public testimony of
his gratitude to the Redeemer, by receiving the memorials of his
death. He waited on the faithful minister who had been employed as
the angel of mercy to his soul, to express his desire; and on the
following Sabbath, with his honoured parent, he sat down at the
Lord's table, thus making a public profession of the faith which he
once scornfully rejected.

The morning after his return to London he went to the office, and
on entering every one arose to offer his congratulations; but Mr.
Gordon exceeded all in the ardour of his expressions. "This," said
he, "is one of the happiest days of my life, and I adore the fate
which has decreed that death shall lose a victim to restore me my
friend."

"I adore the mercy," replied Lewellin, "that has spared my life; and
I trust, my dear Sir, that my friendship will now be a purer flame
than ever burnt on the altar of my heart."

This reply created a little embarrassment to Mr. Gordon; but he
soon got over it, and resumed his accustomed vivacity of disposition
and ease of manners. In the evening they walked away together, when
Lewellin informed him that a material change had taken place in his
sentiments and in his taste; and that if he wished for a renewal of
their former intimacy, it must be on the express condition of paying
a most devout regard to the truths and institutions of revelation.

"What," said Gordon, "are you again enslaved in the trammels of
superstition; and do you expect that I shall bow my neck to such an
ignominious yoke!"

"What you deem the yoke of ignominy, I esteem the badge of honour;
and what you deem a cunningly devised fable, I esteem Divine truth.
You won me over to your sentiments, and what did they do for me?
They impaired my health. They tore up the foundation of a good
constitution, and they plunged me into despair. I lived a sceptic,
but I found that I could not die one. I am now restored to health,
to truth, to happiness; and it is my determination to consecrate
myself to the service of God my Saviour."

"Ah, I pity you."

"Pity me! Pity is for objects of misery; and had you seen me when
the terrors of death fell on me, you might have pitied me: but now I
want no pity, for I am perfectly happy; happy, because redeemed and
regenerated; and have the prospect of enjoying a state of endless
happiness in the world to come.

"Then, I suppose, in future our office is to become the hot-bed of
fanaticism, where the rank weeds of an ancient superstition are to
overshade the lovely plants of reason's golden age?"

"As I shall not obtrude my religious sentiments on the attention
of others, you may calculate on passing through your professional
duties without being annoyed, unless you first attack them; and in
that case, I shall certainly stand up in their defence."

"Well, well, that is all very fair. Then, if I do not commence the
assault, you will not open your battery."

"It will be my aim to make myself agreeable, and to recommend my
religion more by my example than by my arguments; because I know how
you will evade the one, but it is not quite certain that even _you_
can withstand the other.

"Ah, I see you resolve to play off upon me in the same way in which
I triumphed over you, and I have no objection for the experiment to
be tried; but it will not succeed."

The bold and decided manner in which Mr. Lewellin met the sarcasms
of infidelity, and avowed his supreme regard to the truth of
revelation, cut off from his former companions all hopes of
getting him again to join their ranks; and they, as by mutual
consent, abstained from either pressing or enticing him to do so.
He now pursued his course without much obstruction, displaying an
amiability of temper, and a dignified integrity of principle, which
gained him general respect; and though some regretted the change,
yet all acknowledged that it was beneficial. His mind was too
powerfully imbued with the love of the _grand and essential truths
of revelation_, to admit of his cherishing any undue predilection
for the distinctive peculiarities of sectarian opinions; and hence
he very easily guarded religion against the obnoxious charges to
which it is too often exposed, by the dogmatism and intolerance of
its injudicious advocates. He was now introduced by his friend,
Mr. Jordan, to the Rev. W. C----, of whose church he became a
member; and such was the vital energy which he threw into all his
engagements, and such the unaffected humility which adorned his
character, that he soon rose very high in the esteem of all his
religious associates. As a Sunday-school teacher, as a visitor of
the sick, and as an agent of the Tract Society, he was equalled by
few, and surpassed by none; and he never appeared more delighted
than when engaged, either alone or with others, in devising plans
for the promotion of the spiritual and eternal welfare of his
fellow-men; and in carrying them into execution he spared neither
time, labour, nor expense.



FAIRMOUNT.


At a time when I was recovering from a long and severe illness,
which had interrupted the regular discharge of my ministerial
labours, and threatened the extinction of life, I received an
invitation from my friend, Mr. Stevens, who lived near the romantic
village of Watville, and resolved to pay him a visit. I travelled by
easy stages; and in three days after I left home, I became an inmate
in his hospitable villa.

The villa of Fairmount is situated on the summit of a hill,
commanding an extensive view of a richly-wooded and picturesque
country. On the evening of my arrival the scene was one of extreme
beauty. At the base of the hill flowed a meandering river,
stretching away into the far distance, sometimes lost amidst the
luxuriant foliage, and again suddenly reappearing; here reposing in
cool shadow, there gleaming with the rays of the setting sun. On the
right, a small parish church, with its pointed arch and tapering
spire, peeped through an inclosure of aged elms and sycamores; on
the left, near the public road, a few white cottages, with trim
gardens, where children were sporting gleefully. More distant, films
of smoke marked the positions of various hamlets; and, stretching
far as the eye could reach, the hills of another county rose in
purple masses against the evening sky. In the meadow, the cow and
the ox were feeding together, and from the sheepfold the bleating
of the flock fell softly on the ear. A host of early associations
rushed upon me, and filled me with pleasant recollections of days
long past, and I felt relieved from the pressure and perplexities of
my ordinary avocations.

Mr. Stevens, with whom I was now domiciled, was a very intelligent
and pious man. In early life, like many others, he had imbibed the
sceptical opinions of the age, but as they were invested with no
power to

  "Heal the sorrows of the heart, or allay its fears,"

he renounced them when the terrors of death fell upon him, and
sought consolation at the cross of Christ. From that hour he became
a decided Christian, choosing rather to suffer the reproach which
is too often cast _on genuine piety_, than endure the pleasures of
sin, which are but for a season. Soon after _his translation from
darkness to light_, he was introduced to the amiable and pious
Miss Bathurst, with whom he formed that sacred union, which has
been through life a source of mutual felicity. The first few years
after their marriage they were extremely anxious for an heir, but
as Providence denied them this gratification, they were disposed to
acquiesce in his decision, and to reduce to a practical operation
the prayer which they had long been accustomed to repeat: "Thy will
be done on earth, even as it is in heaven." Being exempted from the
charge and the expense of a family, they were more at liberty to
promote the welfare of others; and rarely a day elapsed which did
not bear testimony to their benevolent exertions.

[Illustration:

DRAWN BY S. READ      ENGRAVED BY W. L. THOMAS.

A PROSPECT OF FAIRMOUNT.

Vol. i. page 32.]

The morning after my arrival, Mrs. Stevens asked me if I would
accompany her to see a poor pious young woman who was very ill;
and, lest the distance should be an objection, she told me she had
given orders for the carriage to be ready exactly at half-past ten.
"And as, Sir," she remarked, "you take greater pleasure in tracing
the operations of Divine grace in the renovation of the human soul
than in exploring the wonders of the material universe, and feel a
purer delight on seeing a repenting sinner than in gazing on the
enchanting scenery to which you have made such frequent allusions, I
think I can gratify you."

As we were passing along the road, she gave me the following
narration:--"In the cottage to which we are going reside a poor
man and his wife, who have had a large family, but all have died
in infancy except one beautiful daughter. She, when only sixteen,
entered the family of a respectable farmer in the adjoining parish,
where she continued four years, and would, in all human probability,
have continued there till now, had it not been for a dashing London
servant, who, when on a visit to her own father, got acquainted
with her; and by telling her of the high wages, and the little
work _which town servants have_, made her dissatisfied with her
place; and, in opposition to the advice of all her friends, she gave
notice to leave, and actually went to London to try her fortune.
When she arrived there she called on her friend, who had promised
to procure her a situation; but was informed that no good one had
yet turned up. She was recommended to take a lodging, for which
she would have to pay only two shillings a-week, and no doubt, if
she made proper inquiry, she would hear of something that would
be for her advantage. Thus thrown on the world, without a home,
and without a friend, she would have fallen a victim to her folly,
had not Providence interposed to protect her. As she was passing
along the Strand, with her bundle under her arm, a lady, who had
once seen her at my house, recognized her, and asked her where she
was going. The poor girl related her mournful tale, and implored
pity. This lady took her to her own home, but as she was not in
want of a servant, she could not retain her; yet she procured for
her the best situation in her power. But, instead of high wages,
she had not so much as when in the country; and her work was much
more laborious. Thus disappointed, and having too high a spirit
to return home, she gave herself up to grief; and taking a severe
cold, which she neglected, her strength soon wasted away, and she
was obliged to throw up her situation, and go into lodgings for the
recovery of her health. But disease had made too great progress to
be arrested; and after parting with nearly all her clothes to defray
the expenses she had incurred, she was reduced to the alternative of
dying for want or returning home. She wrote to her father, telling
him she was very ill, and did not expect to live, and desiring as a
favour that he would permit her to come home, and die in the room
where she was born. As soon as the old man received her letter he
hastened to our house; never did I witness such a burst of feeling.
'O Madam! my dear Harriet is very ill; she has sent us this----,
and wants to come home, she says, to die.' He wept, like the old
patriarch, when he saw the bloody coat instead of his darling son.
I endeavoured to console him as well as I could, and immediately
made an arrangement for her return. In the course of the next
week, the grief-worn parents had the melancholy gratification of
embracing their child. She was obliged to take to her bed on the
very day of her arrival. I saw her the day after, and received from
her a faithful narrative of her life. The wreck of beauty was still
visible amidst the ruins of her constitution; and the hectic flush
gave, at intervals, a superhuman expression to her countenance.
I felt conscious that she was hastening to the grave; and this
circumstance deeply depressed the feelings of her pious parents, who
were fearfully apprehensive that she was not prepared for death and
the final judgment. I requested them to leave us alone together,
when I began to converse with her on the value of her soul, and on
the only way of salvation. She wept, and said that she was fully
aware of her danger and desert; but added, 'I hope that the Friend
of sinners will have mercy on me. My conscience has often smote me;
the anguish of my mind I cannot describe; but I lay myself at His
feet, and cry, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I have," added
Mrs. Stevens, "regularly renewed my visits almost every day; and I
hope that my feeble efforts have been made the means of leading her
to the Saviour."

We now alighted from the carriage, and entered the cottage. Its
cleanliness and order bespoke the presence of taste and religious
feeling. As soon as the poor girl heard that there was a minister of
the gospel in the house, she expressed an ardent desire to see me.
When I approached her bedside, she exclaimed, "'This is a faithful
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.' My pious parents
impressed this fact on my memory in the days of my childhood, yet
it never reached my heart till since I have been confined in this
chamber. I have spent the prime of my days in vanity and sin,
neglecting the means of grace, and disregarding the remonstrances of
my own conscience; and, had not an invisible hand arrested me in my
progress, I should have gone on till I had lost my soul. But here
I am, a monument of mercy; a sinner saved through the blood of the
Lamb. That kind lady is the best earthly friend I ever had. She has
been the means of making known to me the way of life; and now I can
say, 'I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is
able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.'"

I expressed the pleasure I felt at hearing these joyful tidings,
mingled my tears of gratitude with those of her relatives and
friends, and after commending her soul to the care of the Lord
Jesus, I bade her adieu, till we meet in that world where no disease
will invade the constitution, where death will never burst asunder
the bonds of social union, and where

  "Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown."

As we rode back to Fairmount, I congratulated Mrs. Stevens on the
honour which God had conferred on her, in employing her as the
instrument of saving this dying girl from the pangs of the second
death.

"It is an honour which I prize more than gold and silver, and which
imparts a purer joy to my mind than ever heaved the bosom of a mere
earthly philanthropist; it invests the eternal world with a fresh
charm, as I expect to embrace my Harriet, as my own child in the
faith.

"I have often thought, that if the infidel could perceive the
sources of pleasure which Christianity opens to the pious mind,
he would be less disposed to reproach her as hostile to human
happiness."

"Yes, but such is the degree of his mental aversion to pure
Christianity, that her more sublime doctrines are turned into
themes of ridicule; the spirit which she inspires in her friends is
regarded as the wild-fire of fanaticism, and our efforts to save
a soul from death are stigmatized as a paltry manoeuvre to gain a
proselyte to our party; and though we may attempt to justify our
conduct on the admitted principles of social benevolence, yet we can
but rarely succeed."

Our conversation was unexpectedly interrupted by a gentleman, who
stepped out of his garden, and informed Mrs. Stevens that the poor
widow was worse, and was not expected to live through the day. This
communication very deeply affected her. She paused, and then said,
"Do you think that I may be permitted to see her?"

"Why, Madam," replied Mr. Roscoe, "the medical attendant has given
express orders that no one be allowed to see her except the nurse.
I hear that she _has made her peace with God_, and is not afraid to
die. It will be a happy release for her."

"I hope Mrs. and Miss Roscoe are well; you will make my compliments
to them, and say that we hope to see them at Fairmount very soon."

"Mr. Roscoe," said Mrs. Stevens, "is our nearest neighbour, but
I fear that he has no just perception of the _nature_ of true
religion; though he is, _in his own estimation, a very religious
man_. He is so amiable in temper, so kind in disposition, and so
benevolent in spirit, that every one esteems him who knows him; but
I fear that he substitutes this exterior amiability in the place
of the atonement of Jesus Christ; and thinks that nothing more is
necessary for salvation except an attendance at his parish church.
But I feel for the dying widow. I saw her at the commencement of her
illness; but when I told her _that she was a sinner, and that she
could not be saved but through faith in the merits of Jesus Christ_,
she told me that _she had never done any harm in her life, and
that she did not doubt of the mercy of God_. I have called several
times since; but, as I attempted _to disturb her peace in her
dying moments_, I have not been permitted to see her again; and I
understand some very severe remarks have been made on what is called
my _cruel conduct_."

"Yes, Madam," I replied, "the spirit of the world will often forbid
the herald of mercy entering the chamber of affliction, and will
wrap up the departing soul in the winding-sheet of self-security
before it enters the valley of the shadow of death. The language of
Jesus Christ in reference to such a state of mind is _very, very_
awful: 'Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name; and in thy name have cast out devils; and
in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto
them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.'"

"I grant," said Mrs. Stevens, "that prudence often renders it
necessary to exclude even intimate friends from the sick chamber,
lest the patient should have too much excitement; but to exclude
friends merely _because they are religious_, and who may be disposed
to say something in relation to that tremendous scene which
eternity opens on the disembodied spirit, is a crime of no ordinary
magnitude; and if the spirit were permitted to step back, after that
scene has been beheld, in what indignant language would she condemn
such an act of fatal cruelty."

"It is a most momentous event in the history of a human being, when
he passes from one world to another; when he steps out of time
into eternity; but how perilously awful to make the passage when
unprepared to go. I recollect going to see one of my hearers who
was dangerously ill; but on recognizing my well-known foot-tread as
I entered his chamber, he concealed himself under the bed-clothes,
and we spoke not for several minutes; no sounds were heard, but his
heavy sighs and piercing groans. He put out his hand, which I took,
and gently pressed; we still remained silent, both being too highly
surcharged with mental emotion to give utterance to what we felt.
At length he threw off the bed-clothes, looked on me with intense
earnestness, and exclaimed, 'O Sir, I am lost; I shall be in hell
before the morning.'"

"What a terrific vision! were you able to speak any words of peace
to his soul?"

"I did speak words of peace, but they gave him neither peace nor
comfort."

"Did he die, Sir?"

"Yes, he died the very next day; and his last words were, 'I AM
LOST; LOST FOR EVER!'"

"How very awful!"

"In such a case the tremendous catastrophe is expected; but now,
let us think for a moment of a person passing out of one world to
another (as many alas! do) under a delusive expectation of going to
heaven; but on stepping out of time into eternity, he finds himself
in hell. What must be his surprise; his terror-struck anguish; his
fearful, his terrific exclamations of agonized woe; his condition,
bearing some analogy, though infinitely more tremendous and
appalling, to that of a culprit tried and cast for death, when in a
trance, knowing nothing of the process or the issue, till he feels
the minister of death adjusting the rope on the fatal platform;
awakening up to a state of consciousness just before the drop falls.
While in a trance, he might be moving amidst the congratulations
of his family and his friends, to take possession of a newly
bequeathed inheritance; with what terrific consternation would
he, on recovering the use of his reason, find himself under the
gallows of infamy, tied to its cross beam, the executioner by his
side, stepping back to draw the bolt which is to give him to death
struggles and to death."

"Your illustration is terrific; but it is not equal to the
tremendous reality--a soul lost, when, under a fatal delusion,
expecting to be saved."

We now came in sight of Fairmount, and that turned the current of
our conversation to a more interesting theme. I remarked, "that
I thought the country more favourable to devotional feeling than
the city. The gaiety and the bustle of the one distract the mind;
whereas the quietude of the other composes it."

"True, Sir, but the spirit of devotion would soon languish
beside the murmuring stream, or beneath the silent shade, unless
invigorated by the unction which cometh from above. If we, who
live in the country, have fewer temptations than those who live
in cities, yet in general we have fewer religious advantages; and
though not altogether deprived of the society of Christian friends,
yet it is but seldom that we are surrounded by a sufficient number
to admit of making a selection."

On entering the parlour, Mr. Stevens soon joined us, and seemed
much interested by the report of our morning's excursion. Having
partaken of a plain dinner, he and I adjourned to a sequestered
arbour, at the extreme point of his shrubbery, where we sat
conversing the greater part of the afternoon. "Mr. Roscoe," he
observed, "to whom you were introduced this morning, is a most
interesting companion. He is a man of very extensive reading, of
deep and close reflection, of a fine taste, very benevolent in
disposition, of strict integrity, and very religious in his own way.
He is rather too fond of disputation, and there is no subject which
he likes to discuss more than the subject of religion, though I
think he does not understand it so well as he does many others."

"Is he fond of introducing religious subjects in conversation?"

"Very."

"Does he introduce them merely for discussion, or in relation to
their practical tendency?"

"Why, his uniform design, if I may be permitted to judge of his
motive, is to excite a general feeling of disgust against what he
calls the Methodistical or Calvinistic delusions of the age, which
he regards as more injurious to our national character, and more
destructive to our happiness, than even the spirit of infidelity
itself."

"Then I presume that you are not very intimate."

"O yes, we are. We often protract the debate till our wives
interfere, and request us to remember the hour."

"But are not some of his prejudices against the demoralizing
tendency of the Methodistical delusion (to use his own phraseology)
shaken by your conduct?"

"O no; he has, like many others, an ingenious expedient, by which
the force of individual example against his sweeping charge is
repelled. He says that our superior good sense, and our superior
virtue, prevent these delusions from operating on us as they operate
on others. So you see that his complaisance nullifies the argument
which he cannot refute; and the mine which Christian consistency
springs beneath an erroneous opinion, is countermined by the
artifice which friendship employs."

"Is he very dogmatical in conversation?"

"Rather so; but he never loses his temper. Indeed, he is a most
valuable man; and if it should please God, who commanded the light
to shine out of darkness, to shine into his heart, to give him the
light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus
Christ, he would, I have no doubt, carry the attainments of the
Christian character to the highest point of excellence."

"Is Mrs. Roscoe of the same way of thinking with her husband?"

"Why, Sir, I do not think that _she ever thinks_ on the subject of
religion. She goes to church, reads the _Week's Preparation_, takes
the sacrament, feeds and clothes the poor, and says that, in her
opinion, nothing more is required of her. She sometimes listens, it
is true, to our discussions, but it is more, I apprehend, from the
respect which she feels for the laws of politeness, than from any
interest which she takes in the subject. Miss Roscoe, who is a most
amiable creature, ventures occasionally to make a few observations,
and sometimes to ask a few questions, but she is very guarded. Mrs.
Stevens presented her with a copy of Doddridge's _Rise and Progress
of Religion in the Soul_ the last time she gave us a call; and from
the spirit in which she received the present, and the assurance she
gave that she would read the book, we entertain some hope that the
light of truth will lead her to the well-spring of true happiness."

"From a remark which Mrs. Stevens made to Mr. Roscoe, when we parted
with him, I hope that I shall have the pleasure of spending an hour
or two in his company before I leave Fairmount."

"Yes, he and his family dine with us next week; but you must
contrive to hide the colour of your cloth if you wish to draw him
out in conversation, especially religious conversation, for you
Dissenting ministers do not stand very high in his esteem. He thinks
that you have obtruded yourselves on an office which, for want of
learning and episcopal ordination, you are not qualified to fill. He
can relish none but Oxford or Cambridge men."

Mrs. Stevens, accompanied by a little niece, who was a weekly
boarder at a ladies' school on the other side of the hill, came to
invite us to tea in the alcove. We took a circuitous route through
the shrubbery, till we entered on the lawn, at the bottom of which
nature and art had combined their skill in the beautifying of this
rural retreat. While sitting there, receiving the refreshment which
the hand of an indulgent Providence had provided, and listening
to the sweet harmony of the feathered tribe, the servant, who had
just returned from the neighbouring town, delivered to his master a
newspaper and a packet of letters. Mr. Stevens, having apologized
for his rudeness (as he called it), proceeded to open the letters,
and, to neutralize my displeasure, he placed the paper in my hands.
"My dear," addressing himself to Mrs. Stevens, "I have some good
news to tell you. Mr. Lewellin has accepted our invitation, and will
be here, if Providence permit, next Thursday."

"One mercy, like one affliction," replied Mrs. Stevens, "seldom
comes alone." Addressing herself to me, "I hope to have the pleasure
of introducing to you a nephew, who has recently felt the power of
the truth, which he once affected to despise."

"The society of Christian friends is always animating, but
particularly the society of those who have recently passed from
death to life, who have just been redeemed from the dominion of
Satan, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
There is usually such an expressive animation in their look and in
their utterances; they have the freshness of their new life glowing
upon them; and when speaking of what they know, and testifying
of what they have seen and felt, they do it with a simplicity
and earnestness which has a fine and powerful influence over our
spirits. We glorify God in them."

"My nephew is the only son of a pious mother, and she is a widow.
He was permitted to run to great lengths in the paths of evil, but
the Lord has had mercy on him, and his conversion is, in my opinion,
as great a proof of the divinity of this Christian faith as the
conversion of St. Paul."

"Pray, is he the son of Mrs. Lewellin, who lives in the village of
Stenmoor, that you refer to?"

"Yes; do you know him?"

"I have the pleasure of knowing Mrs. Lewellin, but not her son, only
by character. To meet with him will be no small addition to the
gratification I feel from my visit to your lovely villa."



A MORNING'S RAMBLE.


When the devotions of the morning were discharged, I strolled out
alone, intending to amuse myself for a few hours in collecting
some fossils, out of the quarry near the Rectory. As I was passing
through a thick coppice, I met a little boy, very neatly dressed,
who politely made me a country bow.

"Well, my little fellow, what is your name?" "Jemmy Allen." "And
where do you live?" "In the cottage just at the end of this wood."
"And how many brothers and sisters have you?" "None, Sir." "And
what is your father?" "A ploughman." "And where are you going?" "Up
to Squire Stevens', to get a little gruel for mother, who is very
poorly." "Can you read?" "Yes, Sir, I can read the Testament, which
Squire Stevens gave me." "Can you tell me who made you?" "God." "Who
came into the world to save sinners?" "Jesus Christ." "What must you
do to be saved?" "I must be sorry for my sins; I must pray to God to
forgive me what is past, and serve him better for the time to come."

I proceeded in questioning him, and was pleased to find that he
could repeat the whole of Watt's Catechism, and also a great
part of that composed by the Assembly of Divines. His knowledge
of the Scriptures was extensive, considering his years; and he
repeated to me the whole of the commandments, with our Lord's
summary of them, as recorded in the twenty-second chapter of the
Gospel by Matthew. Having given him a trifle, as a reward for his
past diligence, and as a stimulus for the future, I moved on, and
soon came within sight of his mother's cottage, which presented
to my imagination more powerful attractions than the quarry I had
intended to visit. On entering, which I did without ceremony, I
beheld an interesting-looking female, apparently very ill, seated
in an arm-chair. I apologized for my intrusion, which occasioned
her a little embarrassment. After thanking me, as a minister of
Jesus Christ, for the honour I had done her, she asked me to take a
seat. Her cottage stood alone, almost entirely surrounded by tall
elm trees, and seemed, by its sacred furniture, consisting of a
Bible, hymn-books, tracts, &c. (the symbols of the Divine presence),
set apart as a local habitation for an heir of glory. A few lines,
once addressed to a secluded saint, involuntarily occurred to my
recollection: "Our Lord has many jewels. Among the number, there are
some of such peculiar properties that he does not choose to expose
them to public observation. He separates them from the general
assemblage, secluding them for his own complacent contemplation, and
sets them as a seal upon his heart."

"You have a lovely retreat from the world, but I suppose, like
others, you are sometimes disturbed by its cares."

"_I have been_, but now I have cast all my cares on him who has
promised to sustain me."

"Then you have reached one of the highest points of experimental
religion, and may look down on this tumultuous scene with an eye of
comparative indifference."

"Why, Sir, I would not exchange my situation or my prospects for
any other that could be offered me. I have not much of this world's
goods, nor yet many wants; but I have an unclouded prospect of
future happiness, which reconciles me to my lot."

"But have you been always so highly favoured!"

"O no, Sir. For many years I was kept in a state of spiritual
bondage, sighing for liberty which I could not obtain, and praying
for peace, but had great bitterness. At length it pleased God to
shine in upon my mind 'with beams of heavenly grace;' and the plan
of salvation, of which I could previously form no just ideas, was
exhibited with such clearness, that the burden of guilt fell off my
conscience; and from that blessed hour to the present, I have not
had a doubt of my interest in the merits of my Redeemer. The long
affliction with which I have been visited has brought me into more
intimate communion with Him; my soul is as a weaned child; and I am
waiting the summons to depart."

"But what a chasm will your departure make in the happiness of your
little family!"

"Yes, my dear husband will feel the stroke; and so will my dear
little boy. Nature still yearns over them, but I am enabled to leave
them, as a dying legacy, to the Lord of life. My husband, I believe,
is on the way to the kingdom of heaven; and my boy, I hope, though
very young, fears the Lord God of his parents; so that I die under a
firm persuasion that our intercourse will not be destroyed, but only
suspended for a season."

"Then you can die in peace?"

"In peace, Sir!" pausing as though her redeemed spirit laboured
for some more than common form of expression as the vehicle of her
utterance, "that word is not descriptive of my state of mind; I feel
a joy which is full of glory, and such an intense longing of soul to
be introduced into the presence of my Lord, that at times I fear I
am too impatient for the descent of the celestial chariot in which I
am to enter through the gates into the city."

"I suppose that, though you live secluded from the world, you are
sometimes visited by pious friends?"

"The Rev. Mr. Ingleby, the venerable rector of Broadhurst, from
whom I received the word of truth, often comes and spends an hour
with me. He considers me as the first-fruits of his ministry; and
I rejoice, _as only the first-fruits_, for since it pleased the
Lord to call me by his grace, there have been many to whom he has
been the instrument of conveying the grace of life. Our hamlet was
the land of darkness before that bright light rose upon us; but now
it is as the land of Goshen. What a glorious change has been made
in Squire Stevens and his lady, who live at Fairmount villa! When
they came to live there, they took the lead in all the fashions and
amusements of the gay and ungodly; very seldom attended church on a
Sunday, and often uttered many hard speeches against Mr. Ingleby;
but their prejudices vanished as soon as they heard him, and now
they are become the most spiritual and zealous family in our parts.
There was a fine stir when they left their own parish church to
attend the ministry of Mr. Ingleby, who preaches about a mile and a
half off; but they have displayed so much of the superior excellence
of the Christian character, and conducted themselves with so much
godly consistency, that even the enemies of the cross are loud in
their praise. They sometimes call to see me, and when they do not
call they often send; and the other day, when I was expressing my
gratitude to Mrs. Stevens for the numerous favours I had received,
she replied, with an emphasis which I shall never forget, '_The
steward should wait in the hall after he has delivered the present;
and then return and deliver the note of thanks to his lord who
sent it._' I hope, as you are a stranger among us, you will call
at Fairmount, where, I am sure, you will meet with a very kind
reception."

I made no reply, but proposed reading a chapter and going to prayer.
I read the 23d Psalm, on which I made a few appropriate remarks, and
then bowed before the footstool of the Divine throne. It is true
I had no soft cushion to kneel on, but I felt that the ground was
rendered sacred by the presence of the Holy One; I had no prescribed
form to aid my devotion, but I felt under the peculiar dictations
of the Spirit, who maketh intercession within the saints; and
arose, not to lose a recollection of the interview amidst the din
of business, or the dissipations of life, but to cherish it as a
latent proof of the connection which subsists between the spiritual
and material world, and as supplying me with a fresh evidence of the
immense value of that scheme of redemption which admits sinners into
fellowship with their sovereign Lord.

[Illustration: FIRST INTERVIEW WITH FARMER PICKFORD.

Vol. i. page 47.]

Soon after I left this lonely cottage, on crossing over a
neighbouring field, I saw a farm-house at a distance, and finding
from my watch that I had two hours more at my disposal, I resolved
to visit it. On entering the yard I met the farmer, Mr. Pickford,
a respectable-looking man, who invited me, in the true spirit of
rural hospitality, to walk in and take a mug of ale. I had not been
seated many minutes before the crusty brown loaf, the delicate cream
cheese, and the can of fresh ale made their appearance, and as my
appetite was rather keen, I relished my lunch. But as my principal
design was the survey of human character, I easily contrived to
induce my host to exhibit himself, which he did in pure native style.

"I have been admiring, farmer, the neatness of your hedges, and the
cleanliness of your fields, which, added to the richness of the
foliage and the luxuriance of the crops, gives a fine effect to the
scenery around."

"Ay, ay, Sir, a country life for me. I shouldn't like to be pent
up in the smoke of a city all my days, though my foolish girls are
always saying that there are more pastimes in a town than in a
village."

"Why, yes, we have many sources of amusement in a city which you
cannot have in the country; but we are exposed to more danger, from
the temptations to which we are liable."

"That makes good what I have often said, that town-folks are worse
than country-folks."

"But if a man be inclined to be wicked, he will be wicked anywhere.
I suppose you have some about you _who are not quite so good as they
ought to be_."

"Yes, there are a few of that sort, the worse luck; but then we
have some who are _better than they need be_, and so the quantum of
goodness is made up to the full Winchester measure."

"Indeed! I never saw a man better than he ought to be."

"Why, Sir, perhaps I made a mistake. I should have said, we have
some who _pretend to be better than they need be_; but you know that
a man may pretend to what he a'n't got."

"True; but what sort of persons do you now refer to?"

"To these Methodists;[1] before they came we were as peaceable as a
flock of sheep in a fold; but now we are always wrangling; and, in
spite of us, they have put down all the little merry-makings which
we used to have among us."

  [1] The epithet Methodist is taken in its popular acceptation, as
  employed by the antievangelical part of society.

"But how have they put down your merry-makings?"

"Why, Sir, we used to have as good a pit of cocks as any in the
country; but now the very men who used to breed the best sort are
turned Methodists; and when I asked one the other day if he had any
young ones hatched yet, he told me that he had seen his wickedness,
and hoped never to be permitted to fall into the sin again; as
though God Almighty would be offended at the innocent pastimes of a
village."

"But do you not suppose that the cocks which fight inflict pain on
each other; and can a humane person derive any amusement from the
agonies of a dumb animal?"

"True, Sir; some, I know, are against such sports, but I must
confess that I have a bit of a liking for them."

"I believe, from what little I know of rural life, that the
_innocent pastimes_ of the village usually terminate in scenes of
drunkenness, rioting, and lewdness; and pray, farmer, have you never
seen the bad effects of them on your friends, and on your servants?"

"Ay, ay, Sir, you now strike home, but what are people to do; they
must have a little 'laxation from hard work sometimes."

"But you say 'these things are put down by the Methodists, in spite
of you;' what do the people do now?"

"O, nearly all of them are turned Methodists, and Squire Stevens,
who lives up at Fairmount yonder, is at the head of them."

"What sort of a gentleman is he?"

"He is very well in his way, only he has too much religion."

"What do you mean by too much religion?"

"Why, he is always talking about it, and giving away little books,
and visiting the poor, and praying with them in their houses, and
preaching to them in his chapel which he built for them. And some
people say he can preach a better sarmunt than parson Cole, who is
a regular Oxford man. His wife is a cleverish sort of a woman; she
looked in here one day, and talked away at a fine rate about Jesus
Christ and salvation by grace; and I have had main hard work ever
since to keep my wife from running after this new sort of religion."

"Pray, farmer, have you ever seriously reflected on the worth of
your soul?"

"Why, Sir, I have something else to reflect on."

"But have you any subject to reflect on of equal importance? Do you
not know that your soul, when it leaves the body, will exist for
ever in a state of happiness or misery?"

"So the parsons tell us, but they may be out in their judgment as
well as other people. I don't believe all they say. I strike off
one-half, and then there's plenty left."

"Do you ever think on the subject of death?"

"No, I don't like to think on such a gloomy subject."

"But why not, when you know you must die soon, and may die to-night?"

"I hope not, for I a'n't fit to die."

"And are you conscious that you are not fit to die, and yet neglect
to think about it? Is it possible?"

"Why, Sir, methinks it's time enough to think about it when it
comes."

"But it may come suddenly, like a thief in the night, and bear off
your soul to the great world of spirits."

"If it should, then the Lord have mercy on my soul. I suppose he
will, as he likes to save sinners, so the parsons say."

I then described to him the frame of mind in which I had left Mrs.
Allen--his wife being present the whole of the time. He could not
refrain from weeping, though he endeavoured to conceal his tears;
and when I had finished, he said that he knew her very well, but as
she was a Methodist, he had been prejudiced against her, but added,
"If this be a sample of their religion, it is of a better sort than
I imagined." And turning to his wife, he said, "Do as you like, I
will never oppose thee again."

"That's the best news I have heard to-day. I'll go to chapel on
Sunday."

"I hope, Sir, that you will stay and take a pot-luck dinner with us;
it will be plainish fare, but a hearty welcome."

"Yes, Sir, do," said his modest-looking wife; "we have just killed a
pig, and I have a nice pork pie, and some apple sauce and cream."

I thanked them both for their kindness, but declined accepting
the invitation, having engaged to dine with a friend in the
neighbourhood.

"Pray, Sir, if a body may be so bold, do I know your friend?"

"You do know him; and perhaps if I mention his name, you will feel a
momentary embarrassment."

"I fear no man; and I don't think I have got an enemy in all these
parts."

"I am going to dine with Mr. Stevens."

"Hollo! I sometimes talk a bit too fast; the worse luck; however,
don't say what I have said. He is a gentleman; I would not offend
him for the world. We live on very good terms; and a better man
does not exist, and I am sure his wife is the best woman in all the
parish."

I told him that he might make himself very easy, as it was not my
habit to sow discord among neighbours. I promised to call again
before I left, which appeared to give him pleasure.

As I was walking up the hill which leads towards the villa, I met
a venerable-looking gentleman, in the costume of a clergyman. We
bowed; and, with an air of peculiar kindness, he said, "I presume I
am addressing the Rev. Mr. S----s?"

"My name, Sir, is S----s."

"I am happy to see you in these parts; but I shall be more happy by
seeing you at the rectory. We are both, I trust, ministers of the
gospel; and though we labour in different communions, yet, as we
expect to dwell together in heaven, I see no reason why we should
shun each other's society on earth."

"Our Lord has broken down the middle wall of partition, but bigotry
has been endeavouring almost ever since to rebuild it; and though
she has succeeded in raising it up immensely high in some parts of
her empire, yet, as she cannot always secure a good foundation, we
occasionally find an opening through which we can pass to enjoy the
fellowship of the saints."

"Ay, Sir, I often pray, 'Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation
thereof.'"

"And to such a prayer I can most cheerfully respond, Amen."

"But do you not think," added Mr. Ingleby, "that the spirit of
liberality is gaining ground among us?"

"I hope it is; but there is very much land yet unoccupied."

"True, but there have been some large inclosures made within the
last half-century. Your London Missionary Society, which breathes
such a catholic spirit, has brought together many of the children
of God who were scattered abroad; and the British and Foreign Bible
Society has bound them together as with a threefold cord, which the
demon of bigotry will never be able to burst asunder."

"I think your remarks are correct; but I want to see more of the
spirit of liberality of sentiment and feeling which is often
expressed, and often applauded at our public meetings, brought
into expression and practical operation in social life. I want to
see Christians of every denomination mingling together, not in the
costume and with the spirit of their distinctive order, but in
their more dignified and exalted character, as disciples of the
Lord Jesus. I want to see them disposed to merge the trifling
distinctions in the more important consideration of their relative
union to each other; and if the spirit of contention is to prevail
among us, let it be the spirit which Paul inculcates, when he
exhorted the Hebrews to provoke one another to love and good works."

"Your sentiments," replied the pious rector, "exactly accord with
my own; and though I do not expect that the spirit of bigotry will
die and be buried before I am called to rest with my fathers,
yet I hope, when standing on the top of the celestial hills, to
witness her interment, and then, in ecstasy, I will respond to the
joyous shout which earth will raise, when she exclaims, 'Bigotry is
fallen--is fallen!'"

"I have just had the pleasure of an interview with Mrs. Allen."

"Ay, she is an eminent saint. How is she, Sir?--I am now going to
see her."

"She appears to be drawing near her latter end, but I do not think
there is any prospect of an immediate change; she is in a most
heavenly frame of mind."

"When I first knew her, which is now near twenty-five years ago,
she came to live with me; but her temper was so violent, and her
enmity to the gospel so inveterate, that I was obliged to part with
her. After she left me, she went to live with a dissolute gentleman
in the neighbourhood, when the seed of the kingdom, which had been
unconsciously deposited in her heart, sprang up; and after remaining
in her situation for a few months, she returned to my service, and
never have I seen a more manifest proof of the efficacy of Divine
grace."

"Religion will sometimes reform a vicious life, and check the evil
propensities of the heart, while the _temper_ is left unsubdued.
What influence have her religious principles over her temper?"

"I am happy to say that the lion became a lamb, and in meekness and
gentleness of spirit she surpasses most. But I perceive," looking
at his watch, "that I cannot prolong our conversation, as I have
an appointment; and therefore I beg you will do me the honour of
a visit before you leave. Come early in the morning, or consent to
stay the whole of the night."

I reached Fairmount about half-an-hour before dinner, which gave
me an opportunity of recording in my diary the incidents of the
morning. As I sat musing on the raptures of the dying Christian,
the ignorance of the worthy farmer, and the liberality of the
venerable clergyman, the servant tapped at my door, and informed
me that the family were waiting. I immediately made my appearance
in the parlour, when Mrs. Stevens said, "I have the pleasure, of
introducing to you my nephew, Mr. Lewellin." I took his hand with
mingled emotions of surprise and joy, offered him my congratulations
on the great change which had taken place in his moral and spiritual
character, inquired after his pious mother, and then sat down to
refresh myself with the provisions of hospitality.



THE HORNINGSHAM SAILOR.


Dinner being ended, we adjourned to the back parlour, whose folding
doors opened on the lawn, and exhibited a sweet scene of tranquil
beauty.

"The heart that is insensible to the charms of nature," said Mr.
Lewellin, "must be devoid of taste and feeling."

"True," replied Mr. Stevens, "but how many feel these charms who
never hold communion with Him who has invested them with their
magic power. They profess to rise up through nature, 'to nature's
God;' but their conceptions of His character are essentially
defective; they admire His grandeur and His greatness, but there
is no recognition of His purity; they extol His benevolence, but
are not awed by His justice. I recollect being in company with a
gentleman, who was an impassioned admirer of nature, and after an
eloquent descant on its magnificent scenery, he concluded by saying,
'The Deity, who has given existence to such physical wonders, would
act a very undignified part to stoop so low as to notice the little
frailties of humanity; but to suppose he would punish them, would
be to offer Him an insult.' Hence they very naturally, from their
assumed premises, scornfully reject the remedial scheme of salvation
that is revealed to us in the Scriptures."

"Our reception or rejection of the Scripture scheme of salvation,"
said Mr. Lewellin, "depends on the opinion we form of the character
of God; for if his purity and equity be not recognized, the law
which commands obedience will be denounced; the distinction between
virtue and vice, which the Scriptures mark with such precision, will
be confounded; and the whole scheme of Divine mercy will be regarded
as a cunningly devised fable. I remember the time when I lived
without any habitual reverence for the Supreme Being. I admired the
wisdom and the benevolence which I could trace in the construction
of the universe; but it neither excited gratitude, nor led to any
dependence on God for preservation from evil, or for happiness. It
is true when the elements were disturbed, when the tempest raged,
when the lightning flashed, and when the thunder roared, I trembled;
but no sooner had these commotions ceased, than all was tranquil
within; yet it was not peace of mind, it was a moral torpor, a
judicial insensibility, the ease which precedes the moral pangs of
the second death."

This reference to his former state induced me to ask him to give us
an account of his conversion. He complied with my request; but as
the more prominent incidents have been already narrated, I need not
detail the whole of his statement.

"My mind," he observed, "was in a peculiarly serene frame when I
consented to accompany my mother to chapel. I had been that morning
on a visit to a friend, in whose society I had passed many hours
of pleasant intercourse; and our conversation unexpectedly took
a religious turn. 'I have recently,' said my friend, 'had my mind
very much occupied and perplexed about the truth or falsehood of
Christianity. If Christianity be a cunningly devised fable, we are
safe; but if it be a true revelation from heaven, we are undone.'
'It is no fable,' I replied; 'it is too true.' 'Then how can we
justify that indifference which we pay to it?' 'To justify it is
impossible; but such is the native insensibility of our hearts to
unseen and eternal realities, that nothing but an extraordinary
dispensation of Heaven can rouse us to a state of proper feeling.'
'Pray, Sir,' said my friend, 'what was the state of your mind in
the immediate prospect of death?' 'I was,' I replied, 'in great
agony, and its intensity increased as the symptoms of coming death
became more decisive. I drew back with horror from the scene which
was before me; but yet at times I longed to plunge into the dark
abyss, that I might know the utmost of my misery.' 'But could you
derive no hope from the consolations which Christianity holds out to
man?' 'None; mine appeared a hopeless case. An allusion to mercy had
a more terrific effect than the utterance of the tremendous word,
Depart!' 'I think,' he replied, 'that religious people are generally
more happy than those who are irreligious; and it is certain, if
the testimony of the most respectable witnesses can be received,
that they are infinitely more happy in the prospect of death.' 'Yes,
Sir, they are, and very naturally so. They expect by the loss of
life to gain the prize of a glorious immortality. We have no such
a prospect!' 'That's true. To us a hereafter is a dead blank, or
torments for ever. What a difference!' As I was returning to my
mother's cottage, I felt an unusual elevation of soul, for which I
could assign no real cause. 'Is this,' I involuntarily exclaimed,
'the first beaming of mercy? Impossible! But why?' The train of
thought which now passed through my mind necessarily partook of
the singular character of my feelings; and though I could not fix
my attention on religious subjects, yet I felt no inclination to
dismiss them. After I reached home, as I sat musing over the recent
occurrences of my life, I opened a hymn-book which was lying near
me, and felt deeply impressed by a hymn to which I chanced to turn,
and which was very appropriate to the state of my mind. The same
afternoon my mother asked me to accompany her to chapel, which gave
me more pleasure than I wished to discover. I was delighted with the
fervour of the singing, and the chaste simplicity of the prayer, and
a few petitions which were uttered struck me with great force."

"Do you recollect these petitions?" said Mrs. Stevens.

"I shall never forget them--'Enlighten, we beseech you, O Lord, our
dark understandings!--renovate our depraved nature!--deepen the
impressions which thy truth has already made on our hearts!--and
admit us, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, into communion with
thee, the only source of pure and substantial bliss!' Never did
words, uttered by human voice, produce a more powerful effect; but
it was not till the minister began to enlarge on the condescension
and death of the Lord Jesus, that I felt my guilt and perceived my
danger. I retired from the chapel with a class of feeling which had
never been previously excited within my breast; yet I cannot say
whether joy or sorrow most preponderated. I wept as my sins came
to my remembrance, but my most sacred tears were shed in gratitude
to the Redeemer for the thrilling manifestation of his pity and
his love. I felt the change, on passing from a state of spiritual
death to newness of life, as consciously as I now feel the action of
life in my vital system; nor could any species of sophistry induce
me to doubt it--a change which produced an entire revolution in
my sentiments and principles; in my habits and in the objects of
my pursuit; and though it has called down upon me the sarcasms of
the sceptic, yet I am not ashamed to own that it is 'by the grace
of God I am what I am.' My mother, when I told her of it, fell
on my neck and kissed me; she wept tears of joy, and then knelt
down and returned thanks to God for his abundant mercy towards me.
Never, till that eventful evening, had I tasted of such pure, such
unmingled felicity."

Every one present was deeply affected by this narration. Mr.
Stevens was about to continue the conversation, when our attention
was attracted by an English sailor, who approached and asked an
alms. Mr. Stevens, who was fond of seeing all the varieties of human
character, invited him to take a seat, and after inquiring where he
had come from, and how long he had been at sea, said, "I dare say
you have endured many hardships in your dangerous profession; it
would be interesting to us if you would give us some account of your
life."

"My life, please your honour," replied the weather-beaten tar, "has
been a chequered life. I was born at Horningsham, a small village
in Wiltshire. My father had three children. He was very religious,
and so was my mother. They taught us to read the Bible and to pray,
and took us to chapel every Sunday. But I was always a wildish
lad, and so was brother George, who was a year younger than I. One
night, when we were about seventeen years old, we set off, unknown
to father or mother, to go to sea. We walked all night, and all the
next day, till we got to Botley, between Southampton and Tichfield,
where we stopped for some refreshment, and to rest ourselves. The
next day we were joined by three soldiers, who said they would take
us across the fields to Gosport; but when they got us into a lonely
place, they robbed us of our watches and all our money. This was
the beginning of our sorrows, and we began to repent of our folly;
but we did not like to go back home. As we were walking up and down
a street in Portsmouth, a gentleman came and asked us if we should
like to go to sea. I replied I would like nothing better. He gave
us five shillings each, provided a lodging for us, and the next
morning we went on board ship. We often wished ourselves at home,
but it was no use; so, after sending a letter to father, to let him
know what was become of us, we set sail. After cruizing about the
channel for some months, we fell in with the Dutch off Camperdown.
This was the first battle I ever fought; and it was a desperate one.
Many a stream of English blood flowed that day; and, just as we were
hailing victory, a spent shot struck my poor brother George (his
voice faltering as he spoke), who was standing by my side; he fell;
we carried him down to the cockpit, when he took me by the hand, and
said, '_Farewell, brother! I am dying_. _Give my love to mother,
and father, and sister, and tell them that I die in the arms of
victory._' He scarcely finished the words before he heaved a dismal
groan, and died. The shouts of victory gave me no pleasure; for I
had lost my brother. Poor fellow, he was thrown overboard the same
day; and many a tear was shed, Sir, as we let him down, for he was
much liked by the crew."

"What ship," said Mr. Stevens, "were you on board of?"

"The _Venerable_, please your honour; Admiral Duncan's ship."

"Did you know Covey, who was wounded in that engagement?"

"Yes, please your honour; I was on deck when he fell. He was as
brave a fellow as ever fought; and he was as generous as he was
brave."

"But was he not very wicked?"

"He was a good sailor, please your honour, and he was generous to
a proverb; but he had no sense of religion, though at times, I
believe, he suffered much in his conscience."

"Do you know what became of him?"

"I have heard that he was sent to Haslar hospital after he left the
_Venerable_, and I suppose he died there; and there, I suppose, he
was buried. God rest his soul!"

Mr. Stevens rose and left the room, but soon returned with the
tract which gives such an interesting account of Covey. He read
some passages from it, and while he was reading, I watched the
countenance of the sailor, which betrayed alternately symptoms of
astonishment, of joy, and of the deepest solemnity.

"I am right glad," said the honest tar, "to hear that my old
shipmate is got safe into such a port. He had a roughish voyage; but
the storm is over; and from that account,[2] he is now safe landed."

  [2] Covey was one of the bravest of the brave, and as wicked as he
  was brave. Mr. Pratt, in the second volume of his _Gleanings_, gives
  us the following account of him:--

  As the two fleets were coming into action, the noble admiral,
  to save the lives of his men, ordered them to lie flat on the
  deck, till, being nearer the enemy, their firing might do the
  more execution. The Dutch ships at this time were pouring their
  broadsides into the _Venerable_ as she passed down part of the Dutch
  fleet, in order to break their line. This stout-hearted and wicked
  Covey, heaped in rapid succession the most dreadful imprecations
  on the eyes, and limbs, and souls of what he called his cowardly
  shipmates, for lying down to avoid the balls of the Dutch. He
  refused to obey the order, till, fearing the authority of an officer
  not far from him, he in part complied, by leaning over a cask which
  stood near, till the word of command was given to fire. At the
  moment of rising, a bar-shot carried away one of his legs, and the
  greater part of the other; but so instantaneous was the stroke,
  though he was sensible of something like a jar in his limbs, he
  knew not that he had lost a leg till his stump came to the deck,
  and he fell. He was sent home to Haslar hospital, with many others;
  and soon after he left it, he went on a Sabbath evening to Orange
  Street Chapel, Portsea, where he heard the Rev. Mr. Griffin preach
  from Mark v. 15. "He listened," says his biographer, "with attention
  and surprise, wondering how the minister should know him among so
  many hundred people; or who could have told him his character and
  state of mind. This astonishment was still more increased when he
  found him describe, as he thought, the whole of his life, and even
  his secret sins. Some weeks after this," says Mr. Griffin, "he
  called and related to me the whole of his history and experience.
  He was surprised to find that I had never received any information
  about him at the time the sermon was preached which so exactly met
  his case. Something more than twelve months after this time he was
  received a member of our church, having given satisfactory evidences
  of being a genuine and consistent Christian. A few weeks since,
  hearing he was ill, I went to visit him. When I entered his room, he
  said, 'Come in, thou man of God! I have been longing to see you, and
  to tell you the happy state of my mind. I believe I shall soon die;
  but death now has no terrors in it. The sting of death is sin; but,
  thanks be to God, he has given me the victory through Jesus Christ.
  I am going to heaven! O! what has Jesus done for me, one of the
  vilest sinners of the human race.' A little before he died, when he
  thought himself within a few hours of dissolution, he said, 'I have
  often thought it was a hard thing to die, but now I find it a very
  easy thing to die. The presence of Christ makes it easy. The joy I
  feel from a sense of the love of God to sinners, from the thought of
  being with the Saviour, of being free from a sinful heart, and of
  enjoying the presence of God for ever, is more than I can express!
  O! how different my thoughts of God, and of myself, and of another
  world, from what they were when I lost my precious limbs on board
  the _Venerable_! It was a precious loss to me! If I had not lost my
  legs, I should perhaps have lost my soul.' With elevated and clasped
  hands, and with eyes glistening with earnestness, through the tears
  which flowed down his face, he said, 'O, my dear minister! I pray
  you, when I am dead, to preach a funeral sermon for a poor sailor;
  and tell others, especially sailors, who are as ignorant and wicked
  as I was, that poor blaspheming Covey found mercy with God, through
  faith in the blood of Christ! Tell them, that since I have found
  mercy, none that seek it need to despair. You know better than I do
  what to say to them. But, O! be in earnest with them; and may the
  Lord grant that my wicked neighbours and fellow-sailors may find
  mercy as well as Covey!' He said much more; but the last words he
  uttered were, 'Hallelujah! hallelujah!'"

"There is no refuge from the storm but in Jesus Christ," said Mr.
Stevens.

"Ah, there is no getting into the port of heaven but through Christ;
this I have known for many years; but it han't done me much good;
but I hope it will."

"Have you now left the navy?"

"Yes, and please your honour. I was wounded at the battle of
Trafalgar, when our Nelson died; and I was sent home, along with
many others, to the hospital. After I left the hospital, I went back
to sea, but I got my discharge a little more than two months ago.
Here it is, and please your honour."

"Where have you been since you got your discharge?"

"I went home to Horningsham as fast as I could travel, to see my
father, and mother, and sister; for I had not seen them for many
years. I got there about five o'clock in the evening, and when I
opened the door, I saw a stranger sitting in the chimney-corner,
who turned out to be my brother-in-law; but poor sister Susan was
dead. I was afraid to ask about father, for I began to think that
death had been on board, and capsized all of them. I saw his stick
hanging over the mantle-piece; and after a while (tears falling
as he spoke), I asked if he were alive. 'No, William,' said my
brother-in-law, 'your father has been dead five years.' 'Is mother
alive?' 'She is alive, but I fear she won't live till the morning.'
'Then I'll put on shore, and see her before she goes down.' So I
went up stairs, and as soon as mother saw me, she knew me, and she
wept for joy to see me back; and as soon as she had given me a
salute, she asked if brother George were living; and when I told her
of his death, she wept again, but they were not tears of joy. She
died in about three hours after I got home; and I staid there a few
weeks after she was buried, but the place being deserted by those I
loved, I made up my mind to slip my cable and sheer off. I couldn't
lay at anchor in such a deserted port."

"Was you with your mother when she died?"

"Yes, and please your honour; I hove to as soon as I saw her, and I
did not leave her until she went down."

"How did she die?"

"Just in the same way as I hope to die, when it pleases God to call
me. She said, 'William, I am now going to heaven, and I hope you
will follow me.'"

"Well," said Mr. Stevens, "I hope you will; but what do you intend
to do for a livelihood?"

"Why, please your honour, I don't know what to do."

"Can you work in a garden?"

"I think I can, and I'm willing to try. I used, when a lad, to work
in the Marquis of Bath's garden, along with my father, and I have
not quite forgot what he learned me."

Mr. Stevens, being in want of an under-gardener, took the sailor
into his service, and he long remained with him, a very faithful and
industrious servant; an Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile.

After the sailor left the parlour, Mr. Lewellin remarked, that the
adaptation of the gospel to man, of every order of intellect, of
every shade and complexion of character, of every age and of every
country, was to him a most decisive evidence of its Divine origin.
Had it been a human invention it would have been incumbered with
some local or national customs, and hence it would have discovered
some radical defect; but instead of this, the closer it is examined
the more its adaptation to the moral condition of humanity is
perceived; its rites are such as all may practise; its precepts
are as suited to an Asiatic or an African as to an European; and
its leading fact, "_that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners_," is "_worthy of all acceptation_."

"As you have so recently left the ranks of infidelity," said Mr.
Stevens, "let me ask you--Are infidels in general sincere in the
opposition which they make to Christianity?"

"They are as sincere as a criminal would be in his efforts to
prevent the judge entering the court; but, in general, they have a
strong impression that their opposition will be useless."

"I see that I have not given my question precisely that form of
meaning which I intended. Do you think that they really disbelieve
the truth of Christianity?"

"We have many in this country, as there are many in all other
countries, who are as ignorant of the nature and design of the
Christian faith as they are of the science of astronomy or of
medicine, and they disbelieve it, if it be proper to say a thing
can be disbelieved which is not known; but I do not think that any
really disbelieve it who have received a proper religious training.
They will, when together, cheer up each others' spirits, and affect
contempt for the religion of the Bible; but I have seen a whole
company disconcerted by a clap of thunder, and retire, not to enjoy
the pleasures of reflection, but, if I may judge from what I have
felt, to writhe beneath the agonies of anticipation."

"Do you know if your conversion to the Christian faith produced any
good effect on any of your former associates?"

"I recollect on one occasion, when several of us were spending a
Sabbath evening in an hotel, after I had delivered a speech at some
length in favour of Deism, and against Christianity, I was so much
applauded, that they clapped me, and said, 'Well, Lewellin, _if
you ever turn, there must be something in it_.' After I did turn,
or rather _after I was turned_, the majority reproached me as a
hypocritical fanatic; but one came and congratulated me on having
escaped the destructive snare in which he was entangled; but added,
'My doom is irrevocably fixed, and it would be only an aggravation
of my misery to indulge a hope of salvation.' Poor fellow! he was
hurried on, even against the strong convictions of his judgment,
and the reproaches of his conscience, through almost every scene
of dissipation, till at length the strong arm of death stopped his
progress. As soon as I heard of his illness, I went to see him. I
never shall forget the interview. It brought to my recollection my
own state of misery, when the terrors of the eternal world, like
the vivid lightning, were playing around my distracted spirit. On
entering his room, he endeavoured to avoid seeing me, by concealing
his face under the bed-clothes. I approached his bedside, and
spoke, but he was dumb with silence. I endeavoured to rouse him by
the kindest expressions of friendship, and at length he uncovered
his horror-struck countenance, and said (as nearly as I can
remember), 'I don't doubt your kindness; it is indelibly impressed
on my callous heart. But why come to torment me? The _damned_ cannot
be _saved_!' 'But,' I added, 'the _chief of sinners_ may.' 'Not
after their doom is fixed. I have passed the line which divides the
saved from the lost; and I cannot retrace my steps.' 'But,----'
'But, Sir,' interrupting me, 'excuse my abruptness; I feel as though
I were now riding on the elements of woe; the voice of peace I
cannot hear. My soul is in a whirlwind of despair! The storm will
ne'er subside! The clouds of the Divine displeasure are highly
charged; they are gathering blackness! and soon--yes, I feel death
now creeping up to strike my heart!--soon, very soon I shall be cast
into outer darkness!' 'But,----' 'But spare me!' 'But, do listen--_I
may_ be the means of distilling consolation; for I have suffered
all you now suffer, and yet have obtained mercy.' 'Yes, _you_ have,
and I am glad of it for your sake; but that feeling aggravates my
agony. Distil consolation! Yes, you may; but every avenue of my
soul is filled up with anguish; it cannot enter. Tell me not of a
Saviour, for I have slighted him! Tell me not of his compassion, for
I have made it a subject of ridicule! Tell me not of heaven, for I
shall soon see it, but at an immeasurable distance! Death is come,
my heartstrings are breaking! I lie down in misery, to rise----' He
could add no more. I left him in the agonies of despair, and soon
after he died."

"How awful!" exclaimed Mrs. Stevens; "was it not too much for your
feelings?"

"Too much!" replied Lewellin, deeply affected, "I scarcely knew
how to remain, or how to move; and, had it not been for the nurse,
who entered the room just at this crisis, I think that I should
have sunk. It has left a horrifying impression on my mind, which
reflection increases; for he was the only son of a pious father,
who was ignorant of his character till he came up from the country
to attend his funeral. The good man waited on me before the rites
of sepulture were performed; and though I suppressed the strong
descriptive language of his son, yet it was not in my power to
alleviate his fears. He wept aloud. He paced backwards and forwards
in my room, like a man bereft of his senses. '_Had I lost my
property, I had merely lost what will melt in the general burning;
but I have lost my child, who will never see----. Woe is me!_' I
went to see the good man a few months ago, but his countenance has
never since worn a smile--his food is the wormwood, and his drink
the gall."

"What anguish," said Mr. Stevens, "does an irreligious child often
inflict in a parent's breast! I have often grieved because I have
not had a family, but I am sure that I shall never grieve again."

I now observed: God often employs the religious education of
children as the means of their conversion; but when they leave their
father's house, if they are not placed in a pious family, they often
turn out the most depraved. Hence we derive an argument for our
encouragement, to train them up in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord; and also a beacon to warn us of the danger to which we expose
them, when we introduce them into situations where they are under
no religious control. This good man demands our pity; but, perhaps,
if we knew the whole history of his conduct to his child, we should
be disposed to blame him. And what a warning is this fact to the
youth who has received a religious training. He may indulge himself
in a course of sin, but conscience will rebuke him; he may suppose
that his father is ignorant of his conduct, but he cannot conceal
himself from the eye of God; and he may presume on a future day for
repentance, but that day may be a day of darkness, of lamentation,
and of woe.

"Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in
the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in
the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things
God will bring thee into judgment."



THE RECTOR OF BROADHURST.


"My dear," said Mr. Stevens, "here is an invitation from the Rev.
Mr. Ingleby, requesting us and our visitors to take tea at the
rectory to-morrow evening, when he will introduce us to the Rev. Mr.
Guion; and as we have no engagement, I presume I may send an answer
in the affirmative."

"Most certainly," said Mrs. Stevens; "to meet Mr. Ingleby and Mr.
Guion together will be a great treat; they are both men of superior
intelligence and piety, and of great conversational powers."

"I do not know Mr. Guion," I remarked, "but I have a very high
opinion of Mr. Ingleby; he breathes a fine catholic spirit, and
preaches the gospel with great simplicity, purity, and power."

"I think," said Mr. Stevens, "I know a few who excel our venerable
friend in some separate ministerial qualifications and attainments;
but in that rare union of excellencies which meet in him, he
stands, in my opinion, unrivalled. He has a voice which is clear
and powerful, his action is natural, he commands attention, and
he always rewards it; for, by an extraordinary aptness of manner,
he compels his hearers to believe that he is addressing them
individually. And I have often been astonished by the extraordinary
fertility of his mind; for while he is perpetually exhibiting
the _same truths_, the modes of their exhibition are perpetually
varying; his arguments, if they are not always new, yet they are
always put in a new form; and his figures of illustration, which
are beautifully chaste, have, if I may use such an expression, the
freshness and fragrance of novelty upon them."

"But, after all," said Mrs. Stevens, "much as I admire him when
he is in the pulpit, it is in the parlour and in the walks of
private life that he unconsciously unfolds the _entire_ of his real
character. He appears more amiable and lovely in the undress of
social intimacy, than when attired in the costume of his order. In
my opinion, he approaches nearer the perfect and upright man of the
Bible than any clergyman I know."

I had heard much of Mr. Ingleby since I had been a visitor at
Fairmount, and I now looked forward with great pleasure to the
prospect of being more fully acquainted with him. I shall here
introduce some particulars of his history, much of which I
afterwards learned.

On his leaving college, where he was greatly beloved by those who
were admitted into his intimacy, Mr. Ingleby went into Yorkshire,
and took the curacy of a country parish; and there he exhibited
in faint miniature the fine character which, in after-life, he
more clearly and broadly developed. To this spiritual cure he was
much attached; and it is probable that he would have continued in
it, but he married a niece of the gentleman who had the living of
Broadhurst in his gift, and who presented it to him on the day of
his marriage. To this living he was inducted in the year 1796; and
though he subsequently had several offers of preferment, yet he
declined them, preferring contentment and the affectionate regards
of the attached and devoted people amongst whom he laboured, to the
greater honours and emoluments which were held out to him. When he
commenced his ministerial labours, he found the church in a most
dilapidated condition; its steeple had fallen; its walls were rent
in several parts, and overgrown with rank vegetation; the rain oozed
through its roof; the grass had grown high on every walk which led
to its antique doors; and though the face of the clock was partly
visible, the clock itself had long ceased to tell the hours. Almost
the whole parish was living in a state of absolute ignorance and
moral barbarism. His heart sunk within him as he surveyed the moral
waste which he was appointed to cultivate; but recollecting that
he was not appointed to labour in his own strength, he resolved
to consecrate his life to its improvement. Having formed this
resolution, no offer, however flattering, could for a moment shake
it. The first thing he attempted was, not to raise the tithes,
which he knew would inflame the prejudices of the people against
him, but to get the church repaired. He called a meeting of the
parishioners, stated his wish, and urged them, in such a mild and
persuasive manner, to comply with it, that the utmost degree of
unanimity prevailed; and they retired congratulating each other on
the residence of a clergyman amongst them who seemed to manifest a
concern for their spiritual welfare. Though the parsonage house was,
if possible, in a more dilapidated state than the church, yet he
prudently declined alluding to it, which gave a few of the leading
men such a high idea of his disinterestedness, that they called
another meeting, and resolved that the house and the church should
be repaired at the same time. When the church, thoroughly repaired,
was reopened for divine worship, there was such a concourse of
attendants that it was not large enough to contain them. The clerk,
who had grown old in the service, having repeated the _Amen_ within
its walls for nearly half a century, said to his rector, while he
was assisting him in putting on his sacred vestments, "There is
a main lot of people come, Sir, to see our beautiful church; one
should almost think that the dead had got leave to come out of their
graves to see it."

[Illustration:

DRAWN BY S. READ.      ENGRAVED BY W. L. THOMAS.

THE CHURCH OF THE NEGLECTED PARISH.

Vol. i. page 66.]

It was with some difficulty that Mr. Ingleby could get to the
desk; and when he commenced the service, instead of reading the
prayers, like his predecessors, in a hurried and irreverent manner,
there was so much gravity in his appearance, so much solemnity
in his deportment, and such a clearness and impressiveness in
his enunciation, that the whole congregation were astonished and
delighted. But it was in the pulpit, where he had to proclaim the
glad tidings of salvation, that he commanded most attention, and
excited the deepest interest. He selected for the occasion the
memorable words of St. Paul, "_For I am determined not to know
anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified_" (1
Cor. ii. 2). After dwelling some time on the death of Christ, and
its grand design, he said, "My brethren, I am appointed to labour
amongst you; and I have now informed you what will be the principal
subject of my ministrations. I shall preach Christ; and can I preach
on any subject so important? As you are sinners, involved in a
state of degeneracy, guilt, and condemnation, you need a Saviour who
is able to absolve you from your guilt, and bring you into a state
of reconciliation with God, and save you from the wrath to come.
Such a Saviour I now proclaim to you; a Saviour who is able to save
to the uttermost all that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth
to make intercession for them. On the merit of his obedience and
death you must rely for pardon and eternal life; and I beseech you
to renounce at once every other object of dependence, and come to
him, by faith, with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and he will
save you."

This sermon produced a powerful impression, particularly the
following very simple illustrative argument:--"If a man, whose
tongue is cleaving to the roof of his mouth, were to put this
question to me--Will a draught of pure water quench my thirst? I
should very naturally say--_Try it._ Or if a man, when standing on a
wreck, should ask me--Will your life-boat take me in safety through
this fearful storm? instead of philosophizing on the causes of
storms, or on the art of boat-building, I should say--_Jump in, Sir,
and try it._ And I have the same reply to make to you, who may feel
disposed to ask me if coming to Jesus Christ to save you will make
you happy--_Try it._ Thousands and millions have made the trial, and
found it a successful one; and now I say to each one of you--_Try
it._"

This style of bold, yet simple address, was as novel amongst the
people as it was impressive; it commanded and secured attention;
and it was evident to all that the preacher was in earnest, for he
spake as one having authority. Some were delighted with the sermon,
and said that they had never seen the truth in such a clear light
before, and that they had never before felt it operate so powerfully
on their minds; and after the service was over, they lingered about
the church, as though they were unwilling to leave the place in
which they had been listening, with so much pleasure, to the glad
tidings of salvation. But there were a few of the _more respectable
part of the people_ who were offended, and who did not hesitate to
say, that if morality was to be excluded from the pulpit, to admit
of the introduction of this evangelical style of preaching, they
should decline attending the church. In the course of the week Mr.
Ingleby received a letter from Mr. Porteous, a county magistrate, of
which I afterwards obtained a copy, and also of his reply. I here
introduce them as curiosities:--

"REVEREND SIR,--I was not a little delighted and astonished on
Sunday last; I was delighted with your very eloquent manner of
reading our incomparable Liturgy; but I was astonished by the _very
unguarded expressions which you made use of in your sermon_. You
said, if my memory serves me, 'good works have nothing to do with
our salvation--that if we are saved, it must be by faith in Christ
crucified.' _Now, if our good works have nothing to do with our
salvation, shall we not abstain from performing them?_ I need not,
I am sure, to a gentleman of your learning, point out the dangerous
consequences which must result to the interests of morality from
such sentiments; but considering that you have been so much engaged
in attending to the repairs of the church, etc., I can very easily
believe, from your habit of preaching extempore, that you let fall
many expressions which, on mature consideration, you will condemn
as unequivocally as I do. You will excuse the liberty which I have
taken in offering these remarks, _but as the morals of the people
are somewhat under my supervision, I could not remain silent when
I apprehended danger_. Assuring you, Reverend Sir, that I have a
great esteem for the clergy, and, as you are appointed our rector, I
shall be happy to see you at my mansion, and wishing you health and
happiness among us--I am, Reverend Sir, your obedient servant,

  "J. P."

Mr. Ingleby's reply:--

"DEAR SIR,--I received yours of the 10th, and I presume that a reply
is expected. I did say, in the course of my sermon, that good works
would never merit the forgiveness of our sins, nor procure for us
a state of final happiness. And I did say that we must be saved,
if we are ever saved, by faith in Jesus Christ. I did state, most
expressly, that the obedience and death of Jesus Christ constitute
the only meritorious cause of our eternal salvation. And if you
read the following passages of Scripture, you will perceive that I
am correct:--'But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss
for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I
have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung,
that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the
faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith' (Phil.
iii. 7-9). 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should
boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good
works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them'
(Ephesians ii. 8-10).

"And, further, if you consult the Eleventh Article of our church
you will find that I advanced no new doctrine:--'We are counted
righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ, by faith, and not by our own works or deservings:
wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome
doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in
the _Homily of Justification_.'

"When these doctrines are preached with simplicity and earnestness
among a people who have not been accustomed to hear them, it is no
unusual thing for some to imagine that they will be followed by
the most dangerous results; but if you will only wait to see their
practical influence, you will be convinced that they will _incline_,
as well as teach men, to 'deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and
to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.'
Assuring you that I am not offended by your free communication,
and that I shall be happy to avail myself of your very friendly
invitation--I am, yours truly,

  "J. I."

The church, which in former times had been almost "as drear as
the mansions of the dead," was now crowded to excess; the people
flocked to it from all the adjacent parishes, and many, who came to
scoff, returned to pray. A visible change soon took place in their
habits; the drunkard became sober, the Sabbath-breaker visited the
house of prayer, the village games were exchanged for the hallowed
exercises of devotion, and the moral desert displayed the beauties
of holiness. When it was found that these effects were the result
of his ministry, though the spirit of scepticism, which often lurks
under a profession of religion, could not be conciliated, yet its
open hostility ceased, and the amiable and zealous rector was
allowed to pursue the even tenor of his way, beloved by the pious,
and respected by the profane.

But he was not more attentive to the duties of his office than to
the virtues of his private character. What he enforced on others,
he himself practised; what he inculcated from the pulpit, he
exemplified in his family. There religion unfolded her sweetest
charms, and sent forth an influence which operated with resistless
force on every inmate in his house; and as his wife was endowed
with an unusual share of prudence, she became indeed an help
meet for him. She involved him in no pecuniary embarrassments
by the extravagance of her habits; occasioned no discord by the
officiousness or bitterness of her temper; but by managing his
temporal affairs with discretion, left him more at liberty to devote
himself to the duties of his sacred avocation.

The rector of Broadhurst was instant in season and out of season,
serving the Lord, and his labours were blessed in the conversion
of not a few of his parishioners. His earnestness in the work of
the ministry, his evangelical preaching, and his popularity with
the common people, stirred up the jealousy and opposition of the
neighbouring clergy, who were preachers of morality, but not of
the gospel. Some of them even went so far as to denounce him from
the pulpit as a fanatical devotee, who was disturbing the peace of
society, and ought to be expelled from the church.

None were more severe in their remarks, or more determined in
their opposition, than the Rev. Mr. Guion, the rector of Norton.
This clergyman had passed through the University of Oxford with
great _eclat_, was a most accomplished scholar, possessed of a very
superior understanding, an admirer of polite literature in all its
branches, and inherited a large fortune which his father bequeathed
him; but when he entered on the discharge of his sacred functions
he was an entire stranger _to the power of vital religion_. His
zeal for the church burnt with an ardent, if not a pure flame,
which led him to look with supercilious contempt on all whom he
deemed innovators; his reverence for the consistency of the clerical
character preserved him from the vices and follies in which too many
indulge; and the independent tone of his mind induced him to compose
his own discourses, rather than read those which were composed by
others. By the rich he was admired for the elegance of his manners,
by the intelligent for the extent and variety of his knowledge, and
by the poor for his profuse benevolence. On his settlement at Norton
he called on Mr. Ingleby, but finding that he was (what the world
calls) a Methodist, he declined an intimacy, and they rarely met,
except on public occasions.

Mr. Ingleby having been appointed to preach a visitation sermon,
Mr. Guion and several other clergymen amused themselves with the
prospect of hearing an enthusiastic and unintelligible discourse.
He chose his text from Isaiah lii. 11: "Be ye clean that bear the
vessels of the Lord." After a few introductory remarks, he said that
the ministers of religion ought to be men of piety towards God, and
of purity in the sight of men; and as they are intrusted with the
truths of revelation, they ought to proclaim them with impassioned
ardour. Having been favoured with a sight of this manuscript sermon,
I have taken a few extracts from it:--

"As, my brethren, the ulterior design of our public ministry is
to recover sinners from their apostasy from God, into a state of
fellowship with him, ought we not ourselves to live in an habitual
contemplation of his excellencies, and in the exercise of spiritual
communion with him? Ought we not to rise above the mere forms and
ceremonies of devotion, into that immediate intercourse with the
Holy One which the Scriptures describe by the appropriate phrase of
'walking with God?' May we not fairly presume that such an hallowed
exercise will have a most material influence in inducing within us
that pure and ardent spirit of devotion, without which the duties
of our sacred profession will be discharged in a cold, formal,
and unimpressive manner? And can we expect to shed the lustre of
piety around us unless we are imbued with its spirit, by a constant
association with Him who alone can infuse it into the mind, and keep
it from a state of relaxation and decay?

"It has been remarked that the copy which the rest of mankind write
after should be remarkably correct. Hence the exhortation which St.
Paul addressed to Timothy is strictly applicable to each of us:
'Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation,
in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity' (1 Tim. iv. 12).
The apology which has sometimes been offered for ministerial
irregularity cannot be admitted--'Do as we say, but not as we do;'
for is not example more powerful than precept? If the priest be
profane, will not the people abhor the sacrifice? If we addict
ourselves to the vices of the age, can we warn the people against
them with any hope of success? If we follow the amusements and
diversions of this world, will they believe that we are in earnest
when we exhort them to abstain _from the appearance of evil_? If we
secularize our habits, enter with spirit into the intrigues of the
politician, and discover a restless ambition to reach the summit of
human fame, will they give us credit for being sincere, if we exhort
them, as we ought to do, _to set their affections on things above,
and not on things on the earth_?

"In the discharge of your public functions, I would recommend you
to press upon the attention of your hearers those truths which
belong to the great scheme of redemption, the lost and helpless
state of man, salvation by the free grace of God, justification and
acceptance through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the necessity
of the new birth, and of the enlightening and purifying operations
of the Holy Ghost. These doctrines, which are expressed with so
much clearness in the Articles of our church, are the essence and
glory of that gospel which we are commissioned to preach; and though
they are rejected by many as the corruptions of Christianity, yet I
presume that you will contend for them as the faith which you are to
deliver for the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints.
If these truths are rejected because they are evangelical, and the
more fashionable doctrine of a sincere though imperfect obedience,
combined with a submission to a prescribed formula of religion,
which leaves the heart unrenewed, be substituted in their room, we
may gain the applause of those who trust in themselves that they
are righteous, but we shall be guilty of an awful departure from
the spirit and the design of our commission, and justly incur the
displeasure of Jesus Christ.

"To conclude: the hour is rapidly approaching when we, who are
appointed as the stewards of the mysteries of the kingdom, shall be
summoned into the presence of our invisible Lord, to give an account
of our stewardship, when the motives which induced us to take upon
ourselves the priest's office and which induced us to retain it, the
manner in which we have spent our time, employed our influence and
our wealth, and conducted the public solemnities of religion, will
undergo a close and a severe investigation; and if we, the ministers
of the sanctuary, should, when weighed in the balance, be found
wanting, how awful will be our doom! Ezek. xxiii. 7, 8.

"Happy, thrice happy that minister who, amidst all his infirmities,
will be able to give up his account with joy; but woe, woe, woe to
us if we be found unfaithful!"

This sermon produced a very considerable effect on the audience,
but no one was more deeply affected by it than Mr. Guion. He
listened with profound attention, and though he mustered all his
prejudices against the preacher, and endeavoured to avoid the force
of his solemn appeals, yet he was _not able to resist the wisdom
and the spirit by which he spake_. After the service was concluded
he retired to meditate on what he had heard, but his mind was too
deeply wounded to admit of calm meditation. His personal guilt,
his danger, his ministerial infidelity, his dishonoured Lord, the
future judgment passed in review before his mind, greatly agitating
his feelings; and being unconscious of the immediate cause and
design of this extraordinary mental excitement, he knew not where
to obtain relief. As the Sabbath approached he attempted, as usual,
to compose a sermon, but after poring over the text on which he had
fixed, he abandoned it, because he could not understand it. He then
selected another, then another, then another, till, in despair, he
resolved that he would not make a fresh effort till his mind was
more composed. "I'll preach," said he, "an old sermon," but he could
not find one that he could preach. At length he took a volume of
sermons from off one of the shelves of his library, and seeing one
on these words, "Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope:
even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee" (Zech.
ix. 12), he transcribed it. The following paragraph, when he read
it from the pulpit, darted a ray of light across his mind, but he
was not then able to discover the truth which it so beautifully
exhibits: "You who are lying in the prison of an unconverted state,
come hither to this sanctuary, whose gates stand open to receive
you. 'It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.' He hath shed that
blood which 'cleanseth from all sin,' and hath sealed that gracious
and well-ordered covenant which offers pardon and eternal life to
every penitent believing sinner. And now all things are ready for
your reception; the Father is ready to embrace you, Christ is ready
to wash you in his blood, the Spirit is ready to heal your diseased
natures, angels are ready to rejoice at your return, and we, as the
servants of this King of Zion, are ready to welcome you into this
family of God, and do now exhort you, and pray you, in Christ's
stead, 'to flee for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before you.'"

On the next Tuesday he rode over to Broadhurst, and heard Mr.
Ingleby preach his evening lecture, but contrived to return without
being seen. He now felt conscious that Mr. Ingleby was qualified
to become his religious instructor, and therefore resolved to
open a correspondence with him, which he did by writing to him as
follows:--

"REV. AND DEAR SIR,--The sermon which I had the honour of hearing
you deliver at your visitation, has made such a deep impression on
my mind, that I have been uneasy ever since. It has stripped me of
all my imaginary excellence, destroyed the foundation on which I was
building my hope of future happiness, convinced me of my personal
guilt and degeneracy, rendered me unfit to discharge the functions
of my sacred office, and thrown my feelings into such a perturbed
state, that I know not how to calm them, nor how to bear up under
them. As you have been the means of inflicting the wound, probably
you can administer some consolation; and, if you will permit me, I
will ride over and avail myself of the honour and felicity of an
interview. A reply by the bearer will greatly oblige, yours truly,

  "OLIVER GUION."

The interview took place as proposed, and from that hour to the
present, these two laborious ministers of Jesus Christ have lived in
the uninterrupted enjoyment of Christian fellowship, animating each
other in their sacred work, and, by uniting their influence, have
succeeded in diffusing the leaven of truth through the greater part
of their extensive parishes.



A VISIT TO THE RECTORY.


We reached the rectory early in the afternoon, and found the
venerable rector waiting our arrival. There was, in the manner and
style of our reception, a fine blending of dignity with kind and
benevolent feeling. In his person he was tall and slender, about
sixty years of age; his silver locks fell in curls on his shoulders;
in his countenance there was a marked expression of benignity; and
his whole appearance was in keeping with his sacred profession.
Mrs. Ingleby was equally free and easy in her manners, but she
was rather reserved; yet it was the reserve of constitutional
timidity--_hauteur_ was alien to her nature. After tarrying awhile,
examining his cabinet of natural curiosities, selected and arranged
with taste and judgment, we adjourned to the moss-house at the
bottom of the garden, which he had, with his own hand, constructed
and adorned. It stood on an eminence, which commanded a varied
and extensive view, while the trees and shrubs which grew around
screened us from the observation of others. The sun, which had been
pouring down his scorching beams during the greater part of the
day, was now gradually descending the western horizon, gilding the
heavens and the earth with his rays. The birds were warbling their
evening songs of praise to the Author of their being; the bees were
pressing into their hives with the collected stores of the day; the
plaintive voice of the turtle-dove fell softly on our ear, which,
intermingling with the occasional cawing of the rooks, returning to
their young with the fruits of their toil, gave to the evening a
charm which the crowded haunts of fashionable life never possessed.

As we sat, enjoying the interchange of sacred thought and feeling,
almost forgetting that we were inhabitants of a world which had
fallen from an original state of purity and bliss, I observed an
interesting-looking stranger advancing towards us; and was informed
that it was the Rev. Mr. Guion, of whom I had previously heard.

Mr. Guion apologized for not being punctual, and informed us
that the fall of his horse was the cause of it. He was welcomed
by the whole party, and congratulated on his having sustained no
injury. Mrs. Ingleby, of course, presided at the tea-table; she was
elegantly polite, yet so affable that we felt at perfect ease; and
every one appeared to enjoy the desultory chit-chat, which was kept
up with great spirit. At length, when the tea-drinking ceremony was
over, _conversation_ commenced, according to our uniform custom,
and, to the astonishment of all, Mrs. Ingleby led off; yet I think
it was more by accident than design.

"Strange events happen in the history of life; but I have been
thinking, while attending to the ceremonies of the table, that if an
old prophet of Israel had been with us when we took our first cup of
tea in this moss-house, and if he had predicted that we should live
to see the present company with us, I should have doubted it."

"Our presence, Madam," said Mr. Stevens, "may be attributed to the
moral power of the Christian ministry; that ministry being the
instrument in the hands of the Spirit of God, by which he effects
moral wonders."

"I had no idea," said Mr. Guion, "when I was going to hear the
visitation sermon at Salisbury, that I should come into contact
with any other power than the rhapsodies of evangelical enthusiasm.
Several of us were highly amused in anticipation of witnessing some
strange outbursts of fanatical sentiment and feeling, uttered in
some grotesque terms of enunciation. But my venerable friend had not
proceeded far in his discourse before I felt compelled to listen
with profound attention; what he said was new to me, it went to my
heart; I was not able, nor yet inclined, to resist the wisdom and
the spirit by which he spake."

"And pray, Sir," said Mr. Lewellin, "what was the direct effect
which the sermon produced?"

"The effect, at the time, was an undefinable effect. I recollect,
when I left the church, and I contrived to leave it without
intermixing with any of my brother clergymen, I retired to meditate
on what I had heard, but my mind was too deeply agitated to admit
of calm meditation. My personal guilt, my spiritual danger, my
ministerial unfaithfulness to my dishonoured Lord, and the future
judgment, alternately convulsed my feelings; and being unconscious
at the time of the immediate cause or ultimate design of this
extraordinary mental excitement, I knew not what to do to regain my
accustomed composure. I could neither read nor pray. I wandered hour
after hour to and fro, in a lonely glen; I was in a fearful tumult
of anxiety and agony of spirit.

"The gospel," said Mr. Ingleby, "is designated the power of God
to salvation, and when it comes to the soul dead in trespasses
and sins, in the demonstrative power of the Spirit, its great
power is felt; felt to be subduing, at times agonizing, and always
renovating. The issue is certain and glorious, its operations are
the necessary preparations for eternal salvation."

"I believe," said Mr. Lewellin, "you have not many evangelical
clergymen in these parts."

"Not many, Sir; the generality of our clergy are very excellent men,
who mean well, but they are not spiritually enlightened men; and,
unhappily for themselves and others, this is their great fault, they
put a Papal construction on the import and design of our sacraments,
and virtually repudiate the articles to which they have given a
solemn assent and consent. My nearest brother clergyman is Mr. Cole,
the rector of Aston; he is decidedly and avowedly anti-evangelical;
he denounces us as a living curse to our church, and a disgrace
to our order; but he is a gay man of the world, will shuffle the
cards, dance at a ball, and visit a theatre, without any sense of
impropriety; he rather glories in his shame."

"Their dependence for success in their official labours," said
Mr. Lewellin, "is on the efficacy of the sacraments, and they
may be regarded as magicians of a new order, operating on their
deluded devotees by a sort of spiritual legerdemain; contrasts to
the faithful in Christ Jesus, who execute the ministry which they
receive of the Lord Jesus under the sanction and power of the Holy
Ghost; and contrasts as great as between demons and angels of God."

"The Christian ministry," said Mr. Ingleby, "is a life-giving
ministry, and a ministry of great moral power, when it is
faithfully executed. It is an institution peculiar to Christianity,
and admirably adapted to advance the improvement and happiness
of society. Paganism wraps up the mysteries of her pretended
revelations in the folds of an hieroglyphical device, Mahometanism
discourages the people from prying into her origin, and Popery
confines the light of revelation within the archives of her temple;
but Christianity presents the Sacred Volume to the poor as well
as to the rich; to the ignorant as well as to the learned; and
by appointing men to explain and enforce the truth, secures the
attention of the multitude, who find that it still pleases God, by
the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe."

"Yes, Sir," replied Mr. Guion, "but if the ministry throw into the
shade the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, it ought not to be
called a _Christian ministry_. I preached for the space of four
years, and thought I preached well. I took great pains with the
composition of my sermons, but I did not preach the doctrine of
salvation by grace through faith. The few who attended my ministry
were pleased, but none were converted; and I never heard any of them
make the subject of my sermon the topic of conversation, except
when I indulged myself in a satirical attack on the fanatics in the
church and the fanatics out of it."

"I presume," said Mr. Stevens, "that you had no conception, when
you were satirizing the fanatics, as you termed them, that you were
satirizing those who contend earnestly for the faith."

"O no, Sir! I was ignorant of their sentiments, and my prejudices
kept me ignorant. I would not read any of their productions. I
often said that they ought to be driven out of the Establishment,
because I thought they were secretly undermining its foundation,
and, if allowed to grow into a formidable body, might endanger its
existence."

"Did you wish to crush them?" said Mr. Lewellin.

"O no; I would have tolerated them as we tolerate the Dissenters,
but I would not allow them to disturb the harmony of the church."

"Did you ever think, Sir, of the awful responsibility in which your
profession involved you?"

"Yes, Sir; but as I lived a virtuous life, when I did occasionally
advert to the day of final decision, I thought I should have a crown
of glory awarded me. O! how I was deluded; but the delusion has
passed away; and though I now see defects where I could not discern
them before, and feel that I am not worthy to unloose the latchet
of my Master's shoes, yet I hope, through his free and sovereign
grace, that I shall be saved."

"Did your clerical brethren," Mr. Stevens inquired, "express any
astonishment or displeasure at the change which took place in your
religious opinions?"

"Yes, Sir, one, a very amiable and learned man, with whom I had been
carrying on a literary correspondence, wrote me a long and rather
severe letter. He said that he was astonished that a person of my
distinguished reputation should condescend to take up the crude and
unphilosophical notions of the modern fanatics. Pause, Sir, said
he, and think of the fatal step you are taking--a step which, if
actually taken, will tarnish the lustre of your character, blast
for ever all hope of your preferment, and doom you to associate
through life with those whom to shun is a virtue, and esteem a vice.
I replied to his letter, stated the doctrines which I believed,
and the reasons why I believed them, and assured him that he was
labouring under a powerful misconception, from which I was happily
delivered; and concluded by saying, that if it were vile in the
estimation of my friends to revere and love such men as Newton,
Cecil, Venn, and Ingleby, I was resolved to become viler still. This
closed our correspondence."

Mr. Guion, who was naturally very facetious, amused us with a
drollish story about two ladies, on whom he had called in the course
of his pastoral visits. These were two maiden sisters, who had
resided together for rather more than half a century, and possessing
an independent fortune, were persons of considerable consequence
in the parish. They were now too far advanced in life to take _the
lead_ in fashion, but they did not _lag far behind_; and though
their opinions on some subjects were regarded as rather antiquated
by their juvenile friends, yet they were usually treated with very
great respect. They were considered as very religious, _particularly
so_; and were very devout, when _seen at their devotions_. The
preparation week was to them a week of very great importance, and
very toilsome mental labour; and it is rather remarkable, that
neither of them had been detained from the sacrament for the space
of thirty years, _except when they had company_. At the time of Mr.
Guion's visit, the eldest, Miss Susan, was sitting in the breakfast
parlour, reading.

_Mr. Guion._--"Good morning, Madam, I hope you are well."

_Miss Susan._--"Indeed, Sir, I am not. I have not been well since
you began to preach the new doctrines of the new birth and faith,
and salvation by grace, which Mr. Ingleby taught you. I wish he had
been on a visit to Jericho, instead of being appointed to preach
that visitation sermon. Indeed, Sir, I don't like your preaching
against cards; for, Sir, I never play for money; and _beside, all
the money I ever win I give to the poor_. You have driven me and
my sister from the church, Sir, and if we are lost, you will have
to answer for it. And beside, Sir, _I never will believe that God
will damn any body_. We were all living, Sir, as peaceably as a
nestling of birds, till you began your present style of preaching,
but now every body has something to say about religion. I am sorry
to say that religion is getting quite into disrepute, now the common
people are becoming religious." Miss Susan had not finished the last
sentence, before Miss Dorothy entered. She was more polite, but
there lurked under her politeness a malignancy of disposition which
her sister did not discover, amidst all her flippant invectives.

_Miss Dorothy._--"Well, Sir, I did not expect that you would have
done us the honour of a call."

"_Mr. Guion._--"I wish, Madam, to pay respect to all my
parishioners."

_Miss Dorothy._--"Out of the pulpit, I presume."

_Mr. Guion._--"Yes, Madam, and in it."

_Miss Dorothy._--"Surely, Reverend Sir, you are now indulging us
with a joke, and I wonder that such a _religious clergyman_ as you
are can use such a profane weapon."

_Mr. Guion._--"I am not aware, Madam, that I ever behaved
disrespectfully towards any of my parishioners, when discharging the
public duties of my office. If I have, I sincerely regret it, and
you would oblige me if you would let me know in what."

[Illustration: MR. GUION'S FIRST INTERVIEW WITH THE MISSES BROWNJOHN.

Vol. i. page 82.]

_Miss Dorothy._--"Did you not tell us, Sir, on Trinity Sunday, that
publicans and harlots were more likely to enter the kingdom of
heaven than your more righteous hearers? And did you not tell us
that we must implore mercy, in terms _equally humiliating_? What was
this, Sir, but proclaiming the jubilee of vice and the armistice of
virtue?"

_Mr. Guion._--"I merely quoted the language of Jesus Christ, which
he addressed to the chief priests and elders of Jerusalem, and as
we are all sinners, I am at a loss to conceive how any can implore
mercy but in the same phraseology of speech. The language of our
church, you know, Madam, is very, very appropriate to us all, '_Lord
have mercy on us, miserable sinners_.'"

_Miss Dorothy._--"No, Sir. I am not a miserable sinner. That
language is only intended for the depraved part of your audience."

_Miss Susan._--"Miserable sinners! Ah! miserable enough. Why, Sir,
there is more misery in the parish _now_, than there has been _for
the past forty years, put it all together_. I went into the kitchen
the other night, and I saw our cook with the Bible on the table,
weeping as though she had lost her father. And this, Sir, is all
your doings; and when I told her she should not go to church any
more to be made miserable, she began crying again, and had the
impudence to tell me the next morning, that unless she could have
the liberty of going to church on a Sunday, that I must provide
myself with another servant. So you see, Sir, what misery you are
propagating among us."

_Mr. Guion._--"All pure religion commences in repentance towards
God, and can there be repentance without sorrow? And if tears, the
signs of sorrow, should be shed, ought this to excite astonishment?
And you will permit me to say, that prohibiting your servant from
attending church on the Sabbath is neither kind nor equitable. The
Scriptures tell us of some who will not enter the kingdom of heaven
themselves, nor suffer them that are entering to go in."

_Miss Dorothy._--"I see your reference, but feel not its force. And
as we differ so materially in our religious opinions, I think we
had better decline any farther intercourse. You may go, Reverend
Sir, and comfort the miserable, who are crying for mercy, _because
they need it_, but you will allow us and our friends to enjoy that
mental complacency which arises from a full conviction that we
discharge our duties to our God and to our neighbour, and this we
take as a bright omen of our future destiny. We have no desire to be
initiated into the mysteries of your faith, but we do justly, love
mercy, and walk humbly with our God."

_Mr. Guion._--"If we cannot agree on the speculative points of
religion, probably we may on its relative duties. And now, ladies,
you will allow me to state the ulterior design of my visit. John
Brown, a very worthy man, who is in the employ of Mr. Rider, fell
two months since from the top of a barley-mow, and broke a leg. He
is still confined to his bed. He has five children, and his wife
is on the eve of being again confined. This severe affliction has
reduced the whole family to a state of extreme distress, and I am
anxious to procure a little assistance for them."

_Miss Dorothy._--"They should apply to the parish. We pay our rates,
and that, you know, Sir, is giving to the poor."

_Mr. Guion._--"A gift is a voluntary donation, but paying the parish
rate is _no gift_, it is a legal compulsion. And besides, this poor
man has always avoided an application to the parish, and I think
it is not only our duty, but our interest, to encourage the poor
to depend on their own resources, and the occasional assistance of
their richer neighbours, rather than force them, by neglect, to have
resource to the parish rate. There is a high spirit of independence
in the mind of a poor, honest, industrious man, which keeps him
from making any application to the overseers; but when that spirit
of independence is broken down by the iron hand of want, and he is
compelled to solicit parish relief to save himself from starvation,
the repugnance is no longer felt, and then, by withholding a little
temporary assistance in time of need, we injure the tone of his
moral feelings, and create a family of paupers, who may hang on the
parish rate all their life."

_Miss Dorothy._--"If, Sir, you always _reasoned in the pulpit_
with, as much correctness as you now _reason out of it_, your more
respectable parishioners would not turn their backs on you. I will
think of the case of this poor man, and if, after having made
due inquiry, we think it a meritorious case, perhaps we may send
something."

_Mr. Guion._--"On the accuracy of my reasoning when in the pulpit
it would be improper in me to express an opinion, but you will
allow me to say that it is only _a very small portion_ of the
respectable part of my parishioners who have turned their back on
me. The generality attend the church more regularly, if not more
devoutly, than before I commenced my present style of preaching. And
who are those who have recently deserted the church? Not those who
are separated from the spirit and the customs of this world, but
those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, who feel
a higher gratification in reading plays and novels than in reading
the Sacred Scriptures, in whose families no altar of devotion is
erected, and who are more disposed to ridicule pure religion when it
is infused into a living character, than to admire its excellence
or imitate its example. If I preach contrary to the Scriptures, or
to the Articles of our church, it will be an easy thing to detect
me; but if my preaching accord with them, to contemn it will be an
aggravation of guilt, and to desert it will be judging ourselves
unworthy of eternal life."

_Miss Susan._--"Every tub must stand on its own bottom. You go to
heaven your way, and we will go ours."

_Miss Dorothy._--"Yes. We are commanded not to be righteous
over-much. The Deity is pleased when he sees his rational creatures
happy, and he does not require us to forego the innocent diversions
which improved society has instituted for its own gratification.
However, it is not my wish to prolong a debate which is mutually
unpleasant."

"Do these ladies," inquired Mrs. Stevens, "ever come now to hear you
preach?"

"No, Madam, Miss Dorothy bears what she calls her expulsion
from church in a genuine pharisaical _hauteur_ of spirit; and is
sullenly silent about the cause of it. But Miss Susan is bitterly
vituperative. She often says I shall have to account to the Almighty
for driving her from the church where she was christened, and
confirmed, and taken the sacrament ever since, and where she hoped
to be buried with her ancestors; but she declares I shall never bury
her."

"Do you ever see them now, Sir?"

"We occasionally meet, when we go through the formal ceremonial of a
polite recognition. They do not object to a bow from their rector,
though they object to his sermons."

"Have they any pernicious influence over others to keep them from
church?"

"Yes, Madam, over a few of the frivolous and the gay, who now attend
Mr. Cole's church, when they go anywhere. And there these two ladies
go on sacrament Sunday--wind and weather permitting."

"We often," said Mr. Ingleby, "see the depraved and dissolute
repenting, and seeking salvation through faith in Jesus Christ,
but we rarely know a genuine Pharisee converted; they are too good
in their own estimation to need a Saviour. They will bow at the
mention of his name, but they will not look to him to save them;
and primarily, because they are under no apprehension of ever being
lost."

We were startled, while gravely listening to this tale of the two
spinster ladies, by the sudden tolling of the church bell. Mr.
Ingleby left the room to ascertain the cause, and on his return
informed us that, owing to some mistake, he had to conduct the
service at a funeral, which he expected would not take place till
the following day.

"Pray, Sir," said Mrs. Stevens, "who is to be interred?" "One of the
choicest lambs of my flock. She fell a victim to the inconstancy of
a worthless man; but towards the close of her imbittered life she
enjoyed unruffled peace of soul, and died in full and certain hope
of a joyful resurrection to eternal life." He now left us to prepare
for the service, and we resolved to follow him to the grave-yard.

[Illustration: A LAMB OF THE FLOCK BORNE TO HER REST.

Vol. i. page 87.]

Seated by myself upon a tombstone, I sat musing on death and
immortality; on the raptures and the woes of the invisible world;
on the dying and on the dead; till I saw the procession moving
slowly up a lane which led to the place of sepulture. The pall was
supported by six females dressed in white; and one walked before
the corpse, carrying a chaplet of flowers. The parents and their
surviving children followed; and a large proportion of the village
hung on, as deeply interested spectators. On entering the church,
the bier was placed in the aisle; the pall-bearers standing by its
sides during the whole of the service. The procession at length
moved to the grave, which was under the shade of a yew tree. Every
eye appeared suffused with tears; but when the noise of the earth
falling on the coffin was heard, there was such a simultaneous
emotion of grief excited, that nearly all wept, except the parents.
They stood motionless; the power of feeling seemed suspended; a
fixed melancholy was impressed on their countenance; and they walked
away, the victims of despair, moving from one dreary spot to another
not less dreary.

As their grief appeared too singular to use any of the common
methods which that passion generally adopts to gain relief from its
own inflictions, I felt anxious to ascertain the specific cause
of its excitement; and, on returning to the rectory, I asked Mr.
Ingleby to give us the history of the deceased.

"She was," he said, "the eldest daughter of an opulent farmer,
who resides about half-a-mile off; an extremely handsome and
accomplished girl; and, from the elegance of her manners, and her
intellectual attainments, she was fitted to move in the most polite
circles. But though she stood without a rival in the whole hamlet,
she was either unconscious of her superiority, or had too much good
sense to display it. She would visit the sick, instruct the children
of the poor, or perform any other work of mercy. In her the passion
of selfishness was annihilated, and she lived to bless others. But
she wanted the grace of pure religion to give the finishing polish
to her attractive charms: and had she possessed this at an earlier
period of her life, she might still have been, what she once was,
the glory of her father's house.

"About four years ago, a young gentleman of rank and fortune, but
of dissipated habits, obtained an introduction to her; an intimacy
was formed, which soon ripened, in her unsuspecting breast, into
an ardent attachment. Her parents, who ought to have guarded her
against the cruel monster, did all in their power to encourage his
visits; and on one occasion, when I ventured to suggest that I
suspected the purity of his intentions, they were offended. But the
veil of deception, which he had thrown over his professions, was
very unexpectedly rent asunder; and with a levity and insolence of
manner, which rarely occur in the annals of human treachery, he tore
himself away from her, leaving her the dupe of her own credulity,
and the victim of her own grief. Abandoned by one she loved, and
thrown as an orphan on the world, even while her parents were still
living, she withdrew from society, and, like the stricken deer,
sought a tranquil death in a gloomy shade. Her health gradually
declined, and it was thought proper to try if change of air and
change of scene would not become the means of restoring it. She
went, with a younger sister, to Teignmouth, to spend the winter; but
on her return we all perceived that she was hastening to the tomb.

"I called to see her a few days after her return, and was both
astonished and delighted to find that, during her residence at
Teignmouth, she had given almost undivided attention to the
momentous claims of religion. 'Though, Sir,' she said, 'I have had
the privilege of attending your ministry from my early childhood,
and have had my mind, at various times, most powerfully impressed by
the truth, which I have heard you preach, yet I never understood the
plan of salvation till recently. I used to admit the importance of
religion, but _now I feel it_; and though I cannot say that I have
attained to any high degree of eminence in knowledge or enjoyment,
yet light has broken in upon my understanding, and I am permitted
to indulge a good hope through grace. How astonishing! I was sent
to Teignmouth for the recovery of my health, which I have not
obtained; _but there I found the pearl of great price_' (Rom. xi.
33).

"I asked her if anything of a particular nature occurred while she
was at Teignmouth, to force on her attention the great question
relating to her personal salvation? when she gave me the following
statement:--

"'When out for a walk one evening, I ran into a roadside cottage,
for shelter against a very heavy shower of rain. I there saw a young
person, about my own age, dying of a decline; and in a short time
her physician came, who is a very godly man, and I overheard part of
their conversation. I heard her say, I am not now afraid of dying
or of death. I know by the loss of this frail life I shall gain
immortal life in heaven--a life of happiness, where there will be no
sin, or sorrow, or pain, or poverty, or death.'

"'I called,' she added, 'the next day, with a few jellies and
oranges, but I found the cottage in a state of great confusion and
sorrow, for she died just before I entered it. On the following
Sabbath her funeral sermon was preached at the Dissenting chapel,
and I heard it. The text made a deep impression on my heart, as
I thought it applicable to myself--"_Her sun went down while it
was yet day_." From that hour I gave an undiverted attention to
the apostolic injunction--"Work out your salvation with fear and
trembling;" and I trust, Sir, I can now say I do believe in the
Son of God, and hope He will save me. I may live to outlive my
affliction, and the poignant sufferings which have been the cause of
it; but it is very doubtful. What a mercy that I am now prepared for
death and its issue.'

"She grew better as the spring advanced; the influence of religious
principle moderated the violence of her mental anguish; her spirits
regained their natural vivacity; she resumed her customary habits of
going about doing good, and again mingled amongst the living; but
now her preference was to the excellent of the earth, who love and
fear God. So great was the change in her appearance, that we all
flattered ourselves that the fatal disease had received a check,
and that she would yet live to bless us with her presence and her
example. But the disorder, which we thought subdued, was silently
spreading itself through her whole frame; and having taken a fresh
cold, it attacked her with greater violence, and within the space of
three weeks she was taken from us. At my last interview with her,
which was only a few hours before her decease, she said, 'I am not
_now_ afraid to die. The subject has long been familiar to me. It
is divested of all its terrors. "I know that my Redeemer liveth."
I enjoy His presence this side the Jordan, and doubt not but the
waters will divide when He calls me to pass through.'

"On seeing her mother weep, and her father retiring in sorrow from
the 'post of observation,' she said with great composure, 'My dear
parents, weep not for me. I shall soon, very soon be released from
all my pain, and see Him, "whom having not seen, I love; in whom,
though I see Him not, yet believing, I rejoice with joy unspeakable
and full of glory." I leave you in this vale of sorrow, to ascend
the mount of bliss; and I hope you will follow me. And O! that he
who has been the guilty cause of my early death, may obtain mercy in
that day when we must stand together before the judgment-seat.' She
spoke but little after this, and at seven o'clock the same evening
she said, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,' smiled, and expired.

"Since her death her parents, who are virtuous, but not pious, have
been inconsolable; they reproach themselves in the bitterest terms
for the inducements which they threw in the way of the murderer of
their daughter and the destroyer of their happiness; and though
they have no doubt of her present felicity, yet, being ignorant of
the nature of that felicity, and having no animating prospect of
attaining it themselves, they sorrow as others who have no hope. I
have visited them several times since the dear deceased left us; but
grief has taken such an entire possession of their mind, that the
words of consolation seem to aggravate its violence, and I fear,
unless mercy interpose to prevent it, that the grave will soon be
opened to receive them."

"Nothing," said Mr. Stevens, "gives such buoyancy to the mind, in
the season of affliction, as communion with God. This holy exercise
induces resignation, as well as submission to His will; raises
up the soul above the conflicting elements of sorrow, into the
tranquil regions of peace; and, by associating it with the unseen,
yet not unfelt realities of the eternal world, makes it unwilling
to look for permanent and substantial happiness amidst the fleeting
possessions of earth."

"I was present," said Mrs. Stevens, "when my dear sister, Mrs.
Lewellin, lost her Eliza. She wept as she followed her remains to
the tomb; but she did not repine. She said to me, after the rites of
sepulture were performed, as we sat together in the room in which
the dear girl expired, 'If it had been the will of the Lord to have
spared my child, I would have received her back with grateful joy;
but as He has taken her to Himself, I can bow and say,

    'I welcome all thy sov'reign will,
      For all that will is love;
    And when I know not what thou dost,
      I'll wait the light above.'"

"Religion," said Mr. Ingleby, "has a fine effect on the soul in the
day of prosperity; but its excellency is most visible in the season
of adversity; then it shines with peculiar radiance, demonstrating
its superhuman origin, by the omnipotence of its power in moderating
the intensity of grief, and inspiring the soul with a hope full of
immortality."



SATURDAY EVENING AT FAIRMOUNT.


It was on a fine summer evening, when taking a solitary ramble,
that I seated myself on the stump of an old elm tree, gazing
on the splendour of the heavens and the beauties of the earth;
thinking of the mysterious period when there was no sun, or moon,
or stars; when there was no material universe or created beings;
that I unconsciously fell into the following train of reflection.
Here I am; but how came I here? Am I the child of chance, or the
offspring of a wise and beneficent Creator? When I see a machine,
I feel conscious that it was constructed by an artist; and can I
suppose that the more curious mechanism of my body was formed by
chance? Was it chance that placed my eye in the only proper position
in the body to guide the motion of my hands and my feet; that
stationed around it so many guards to keep it from injury; that
has given it a mysterious power to travel over a wide and extended
surface without fatigue; and to receive the exact form and colour
of external objects on the dark canvas spread out behind the lens,
without intermixture or confusion? Was it chance that constructed
my ear for the nice discrimination of sounds; that let fall the
ray of intelligence on my understanding; and gave to my fancy its
capabilities to adorn the conceptions of my mind with the drapery
of a beauteous imagery? And was it chance that gave to my tongue
the sense of taste and the gift of speech? Impossible! I trace
contrivance in all these astonishing arrangements and endowments,
which demonstrates the existence of a God who made me. Was it chance
that placed the sun in the centre of the planetary system; that
impressed laws on those unconscious bodies which revolve around it,
which keep them from deviating from their mysterious course; that
set bounds to the sea, which it cannot pass; that gave to the air I
breathe a salubrious and elastic quality; and enriched the earth
with a prolific power? Impossible! In all these mighty works I trace
the operations of intelligence and design. "The heavens declare the
glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." All nature
is full of God. He shines in the brightness of the sun,

                    ----"Refreshes in the breeze,
    Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees."

And does not the visible creation display the goodness of God? Pain
is not the object of contrivance, which would have been the case
had the Creator been a malevolent being. The eye is formed for the
purpose of vision, not to be injured by the atom floating in the
air; the ear for hearing, not for aching; the hand and the foot to
be active and useful, not to be lacerated by instruments of torture.

The sun was now creeping gently down the western horizon; the
sky was clear and bright, as on the eve of the first day of the
creation; no sounds broke in upon my calm serenity, except the
lowing of the cattle and the bleating of the sheep penned in a
neighbouring fold; and, just as I was rising to a more glorious
theme of contemplation, my attention was arrested by the appearance
of a gentleman, who was walking along the bank of a river, gliding
through the vale beneath me. His manner was singular. Now he
advanced with hurried steps the distance of fifty yards, then
suddenly stopped, looked round him, advanced again, again stopped,
stood motionless, then approached the brink of the river, receded,
walked up to the edge again, paused, appeared wrapped in deep
and solemn thought, retraced his steps, abruptly stopped, fixed
his cane in the ground, threw down his gloves, took off his hat,
advanced, and fell. During the whole of these apparently mysterious
movements, my sympathies were excited, and I was making every
necessary preparation to save a soul from death. My feelings were
too violently agitated to allow of cool reflection; but I could not
refrain from paying the tributary sigh to that unknown cause of woe
which appeared to be hurrying an intelligent and accountable being
out of a world on which I had been gazing with so much delight, and
sending him, stained with the blood of his own life, into another
and a changeless economy of existence.

As soon as I saw him fall, I rushed forward; and, as the river was
not more than a few hundred yards distant from me, I felt conscious
that I should be able to reach him in time to save his life; but
just as I was going to leap over the stile that stood midway between
us, I saw him raising himself on his knees. I drew back, and looking
through the hedge, I perceived that he had not fallen into the
river, but among the high rushes that grew on its brink, and that he
was not meditating the destruction of his own life, but the rescue
of a little lamb, that had accidentally slipped into the stream.
The transition of my mind from one of the most awful subjects of
contemplation, to a touching incident of human benevolence, was
not less gratifying to my feelings than the sudden hushing of the
midnight tempest is to the mariner, who, having lost his compass,
can steer his vessel only by the light of the polar star.

Curiosity impelled me to watch the movements of this stranger, and
I beheld him cautiously removing the weeds which were entwined
around the exhausted lamb, and then carrying it to its dam, which,
I imagined from her bleating, instinctively knew the danger from
which her offspring had been delivered. This sight brought to
my recollection the language of the prophet, who represents the
Redeemer as gathering the lambs with his arms, and carrying them in
his bosom.

On perceiving the stranger advancing towards the stile which I
intended to cross, I again seated myself on my former post of
observation, and soon had the gratification of seeing him saunter
up the lane. He was a young man, on whom the God of nature had
bestowed a fine exterior form; and who by an action, which he was
not conscious I had witnessed, had strongly prepossessed me in his
favour. I arose on his coming near me; we exchanged the customary
bow of polite recognition; and, after passing a few cursory remarks
on the varied scenery around us, we moved onwards together, and were
soon engaged in a very interesting and important discussion.

"I have, Sir," he said, "left the bustling city, in which I have
spent the greater part of my life, to survey for myself those rural
beauties and employments which I have been accustomed to view
through the medium of the press."

"No fancy," I observed, "can paint the beauties of nature, in all
their varied forms, and hues, and rich combinations. The landscape
pleases when on the canvas; but there is no life, no motion, no
sound, all which are necessary to make the representation really
correct."

"True, Sir, but we are much indebted to the pencil for introducing
rural scenes and scenery into our crowded cities, by which we are
told, through the medium of the eye, that there are living beauties
in nature which _we may see_. This is my first visit to the country.
I have been wandering about for several weeks, travelling from
village to village, and penetrating into woods and forests; trying
to make myself familiar with the manners and habits, the sentiments
and feelings, of the various orders of rustic life. I have conversed
with the opulent and indigent farmer; with the man who holds the
plough, and the man who drives the team; with the shepherd and the
woodman; I have looked into their houses and their huts, and have
investigated their plans of domestic economy; and I think I shall
now return home with a more correct opinion of the actual state of
things that I once entertained. The beauties of nature are more
beautiful than I anticipated; but I have searched in vain for that
rural simplicity, and innocence, and joy, which ancient and modern
poets have described in such glowing colours. For simplicity, I
have found rudeness; for innocence, low cunning; for contentment,
murmuring dissatisfaction; for sportive playfulness, almost
universal lamentation. To quote the language of a poet who first
introduced scepticism into my unsuspecting breast:--

    'I grant, indeed, that fields and flocks have charms
    For him that grazes, or for him that farms:
    But, when amid such pleasing scenes, I trace
    The poor, laborious natives of the place,
    And see the mid-day sun, with fervid ray,
    On their bare heads and dewy temples play;
    While some, with feeble hands, and fainter hearts,
    Deplore their fortune, yet sustain their parts--
    Then, shall I dare these real ills to hide,
    In tinsel trappings of poetic pride?'"

"I have often been charmed with the pastoral life of the poets,
but I have never found a counterpart to their descriptions.
_Their_shepherdesses are clothed with the verdant beauty of
paradisaical innocence, and their shepherds are men of genius;
the sky beneath which their ewes lamb and their dogs sleep, knows
nothing of the war of elements; but when I visit the actual spots
from whence they collect their enchanting imagery, I see the
ponderous cloud overhanging the defenceless fold; and am soon
convinced that

    'No shepherds now, in smooth alternate verse,
    Their country's beauty or their nymphs rehearse.'"

"The poets have long been practising an illusion on our credulity;
and though, after the deception is discovered, we may continue to
admire their highly-wrought descriptions, yet, the charm of reality
having vanished, we feel dissatisfied."

"It is to be lamented," I replied, "that poets are not the only
writers who try to impose on the credulity of their readers. The
reading world, as it is called, revolves in a fictitious region;
and hence, when its inhabitants come forth amidst the scenes of
real life, they are apt to think, and feel, and talk, and act, like
beings descended from an aerial planet."

"Your observation, Sir, is perfectly correct; but, in my opinion,
no writers are so deserving of severe censure as religious writers.
They represent as fact, what we know is fable; as real, what our
intuitive sense teaches us is imaginary; and, by a dexterity which
belongs exclusively to their order they try to beguile us of our
innocent recreations, which they denounce as impure and pernicious,
and enforce on us exercises at which our generous nature recoils;
and have the effrontery to tell us, that if we wish for happiness we
must seek for it in religion."

"That there has been deception practised by _some_ religious
writers no one can deny; but I cannot subscribe to every part of
your sweeping charge. For if your remarks are to be admitted in
their fullest extent of application, they would go to the entire
banishment of all religion from society, which would be a fearful
calamity--the experience of all ages and countries proves that
no social fabric can be held in order and in harmony, unless its
various parts are compressed together by the force of religious
opinions and sanctions."

"Not, Sir, to the banishment of the religion of nature, which
is simple and pure, but to the banishment of the religion of
revelation, which is mystical and corrupt."

"And pray, my dear Sir, what is this religion of nature, which you
say is so simple and pure? It is something of which I have heard,
but I never saw its form or heard its voice."

"Why, Sir, it is that view of the perfections of the Deity which we
discover in His visible works, and the consequent impressions which
they make on our minds. How vast the power which has sprung yon
azure arch over our revolving globe! What wisdom is displayed in the
adaptation of every part of the creation to accomplish some obvious
design! And it is evident, from the subservience of all things to
the comfort and happiness of living beings, that goodness is an
essential attribute of the Deity. It is in this vast temple, where
he unveils his glory, that I offer up my orisons and my incense; and
not on altars built by human hands, or within temples consecrated by
priestly incantations."

"I agree with you, that power, and wisdom, and goodness, are
displayed in the works of God, and that we may worship him either
in the glen or on the mountain top, beside the running stream or
within the recesses of pathless woods; but, as we are sinners, can
we indulge any hope of mercy, unless he condescend to promise us
forgiveness? And tell me from what part of the _visible creation_
has the sound of mercy ever proceeded?"

"Why, Sir, we may presume that He who has made provision for all our
temporal wants, has made provision also for our moral ones."

"We know, Sir, that the supreme magistrate feeds and clothes the
state prisoner, but are we to presume, from this circumstance, that
he will also remit his sentence of condemnation?"

This question produced a momentary embarrassment; but, after a
short pause, he said, "I grant that a promise of mercy would be a
more substantial basis for hope than a mere presumption resting on
analogical reasoning."

"I thank you for this frank admission; and I think if you will
investigate the subject, free from prejudice, you will find that the
promise has been given."

"I know that the writers of your Scriptures have incorporated the
promise of forgiveness in their scheme of religion; but I can never
bring my mind to believe that they were authorized to do so by the
Deity. I never can believe in the truth of Christianity. It is
impossible."

"But, Sir, you will admit that it may be true, though you do not
believe it?"

"Why, yes; my scepticism does not prove it false, any more than your
faith proves it true."

"Now, let me suppose for a moment that it is true--in what an
awful dilemma are you placed! Be candid. Are you convinced, by
an unbiassed and dispassionate investigation of the evidences of
Christianity, that the system is false?"

"Why, no; I have never examined them; and for this reason, I have
never thought it worth while; because I cannot reconcile your
doctrine of the atonement with the dictates of reason."

"But, suppose the _fact_ of the atonement be established by proper,
_valid evidence_, will your inability to reconcile it with the
dictates of reason be any logical argument against it?"

"Most certainly it will, unless you require me to believe what I
can neither understand nor comprehend; and, allow me to ask, what
practical effect can be produced by the admission of any doctrine or
supposed fact which is incomprehensible?"

"You believe in the existence of God; and that belief induces you
to pay him homage; but can you comprehend the nature of his essence,
or the _modus_ of his existence?"

He was silent; I continued, "We have positive proof that the tides
of the ocean are acted on by the moon. This is a fact, which
nautical science compels us to believe; and the belief does operate
on human conduct; but can you understand how its influence does act?
But, waiving the introduction of other facts, which may be made to
tell with crushing force against your proposition, that what is
incomprehensible cannot put forth any practical power, may I be
permitted to ask, what other specific objections you have to advance
against the doctrine of the atonement, which is so distinctly and
repeatedly brought forward by the writers of the Scriptures?"

"I have several; first, I cannot admit that the death of an innocent
person can be accepted as an atonement for the sins of the guilty,
without a gross violation of the laws of immutable justice. If I
take for granted, what your Scriptures assert to be the case, that
man is a sinner, and consequently under a sentence of condemnation,
does not immutable justice require that he should stand responsible
for his actions; how, then, can he transfer this responsibility to
another, without disturbing the established law of moral order?"

"He _does not make the transfer_, he _merely accepts it_; the
transfer is made in his behalf, by the authority of the supreme
legislator; and Jesus Christ, to whom the transfer is made,
willingly takes upon himself the moral responsibility of human crime
and guilt."

"This certainly obviates one part of my objection, but still
immutable justice seems to require, to quote from your own standard
of authority, that _the soul that sinneth shall die_, that is, I
suppose, shall endure the penalty of his own crimes."

"Yes, unless some intervening act of grace be performed, which
acquits the culprit, without setting aside the authority of the
law by which he is condemned. You recollect what is reported of
Zaleucus, a king of Greece, at a crisis when the paternal affections
beat in harmony with the claims of justice."

"It has escaped my memory."

"The case was this--he passed a law which doomed an adulterer to
the loss of his eyes, as the penalty of his crime. His own son was
accused and condemned; and the question arose amongst the people,
Will the king's son suffer, or will the law be repealed? The king
very soon settled the question--his son suffers the loss of one eye,
and then, to save him from total blindness, he consents to lose one
of his own eyes; thus bowing to the majesty of his own law for the
suppression of this popular crime. Here we see how, by an expedient
devised by paternal benevolence, the authority of the law was
preserved, while the guilty culprit was rescued from the _extreme
severity of_ its infliction. And now permit me to ask, whether the
development of the paternal affections, in conjunction with the
mitigated severity of judicial infliction, had not a necessary
tendency to excite amongst the people a more profound reverence for
the law, while it increased their attachment to their sovereign, and
their confidence in the equity of his administration? What adulterer
could expect to elude the penalty of his crime after witnessing such
a spectacle of justice and of benevolence?"

"Permit me to say, I cannot perceive the bearing of this touching
fact, which you have imported from Greece, on my objection to your
doctrine of the atonement."

"Indeed, I am surprised at that. The Bible tells us that God stands
in the relation of a paternal sovereign, who commands our subjection
to his laws, while he allows us to address him as our Father.
These laws we violate, and the penalty is incurred, and immutable
justice requires its infliction; he provides a substitute in the
person of his only begotten Son, who willingly consents to accept
the appointment, and actually suffers, the just for the unjust;
dying to rescue the guilty from the horrors of the second death.
Here we see the conjunction of justice and mercy, the blending of
the awful majesty of the Sovereign with the tenderness of paternal
benevolence; the law is honoured, while the culprit is pardoned; and
the practical effect of this comprehensive scheme of grace is to
increase our reverence for the authority of God, while it increases
also our gratitude and love to him."

"If I admit, what you take for granted, that the Deity has given us
a code of laws in your Scriptures, and that the violation of any of
them does actually involve man in guilt and condemnation, then, in
that case, your explanation is a fair rescue of the atonement from
the grasp of my objection. But I have now to call your attention
to another objection, which, I think, will give you a little more
trouble. But, before I bring it forward, allow me to ask one
question. According to your theory, unless I misapprehend you, the
atonement is a simple vindication of the Deity's moral government,
enabling him to exercise mercy in conjunction with justice; and thus
uphold the authority of his laws, while he passes a sentence of
acquittal on the culprit who transgresses or disobeys them?"

"Yes, my theory embraces that aspect of the atonement."

"Has it any other bearing?"

"Yes, it has an important bearing on man, in relieving him from the
galling pressure of conscious guilt, and giving him peace of soul,
combined with a hope of final salvation."

"It is this aspect of the atonement," said the stranger, "which
constitutes the germ of my objection. The atonement, if a reality,
is a fact of ancient date; and, like all other historical facts, it
comes transmitted to us on the evidence of testimony; and it must, I
suppose, be believed before it can exert any influence or power on
the mind of man."

"Most certainly."

"This is the problem I want solved; is this supposed moral power
emitted _directly_ FROM the atonement on the human spirit, when
it is in a quiescent state? if so, there can be no necessity for
the exercise of belief; or does the human spirit extract it by the
mysterious action of its own faith? if so, as the virtue itself is
both intangible and imperceptible, and consequently inconceivable,
how can faith, whose object of belief must be something definite,
perform the supposed action?"

"Your question is a very subtle one, but it is not a very perplexing
one, because it relates to a fact of a peculiar order, all of which
are self-evident, while the nature of their influence or power, and
the _modus_ of its operation--i.e., the operation of the influence
of the facts of the peculiar order--are shrouded in a veil of
impenetrable mystery."

"Excuse me; but I don't take the drift of your meaning."

"You object to the atonement, because you cannot conceive how it can
exert any effective influence over the soul of a man oppressed by a
sense of conscious guilt."

"Exactly so."

"Well, I am now going to prove that there is no logical force in
your objection, and I will do this by one analogical fact, which
will explain, and, I think, confirm the correctness of my meaning.
Take, then, human friendship. Is the moral power of human friendship
a fiction or a reality? Take the _look_ of friendship; is there no
moral power in the movement and soft beaming of the eye, especially
in the falling tear? Take the _countenance_ of friendship; is
there no moral power in the bland and bewitching smile? Take the
_bosom_ of friendship; is there no moral power in the suppressed
groan or noiseless sigh? Take the _hand_ of friendship; is there
no moral power in the hearty shake or gentle squeeze? Take the
_tongue_ of friendship; is there no moral power in its expressions
of sympathy, or its promises of fidelity? But, Sir, what _is_ this
mystic power, which is known to act with such efficacy on the
troubled and downcast spirit in the season of its perplexities and
sorrows? Can you tell me _what it is, or how it acts_? It is a
_mighty something_, which, like an invisible spirit of superhuman
benignity, moves without a shape, speaks without a voice, passes
through all resistances of doubt and misgivings without an effort,
laying the throbbing heart of the anxious mourner at rest on its own
impalpable bosom, where it enjoys the solace and the calm of sweet
repose. Thus we have, in the common occurrences of every-day life, a
philosophical defence of the moral efficacy of the power which the
Scriptures ascribe to the atonement, even though we cannot define
its exact nature, or explain the _modus_ of its actual operation. It
is then, like the power of human friendship, a fact which evidence
attests and which uniform experience confirms."

"I am delighted that my scepticism has supplied to you such a
tempting background for the beautiful sketching of the mystic power
of friendship true to life, with which you have now favoured me.
But you have overlooked one important fact, namely, that the human
spirit is dependent on her physical senses for the transmission and
reception of the power of friendship."

"True, but only as the _medium_ of transmission and reception; and
this fact supplies fresh evidence to prove, that while you are
compelled to admit, on the evidence of consciousness and testimony,
the power of friendship, you can neither explain nor conceive the
nature of its influence, or the _modus_ of its operation. And it is
to the same evidence I appeal in confirmation of the moral power
of the atonement on the human spirit, and maintain that you have
no moral, or even logical right to deny it, on the ground of my
inability to give you all the explanations you may ask me for, when
you yourself feel a similar inability to explain how it is that a
self-evident friendship works so powerfully on the heart of sorrow
and of perplexity."

"Well, then, I will admit, and most readily, that you have fairly
silenced my _objection_ against the atonement, on the ground of your
inability to explain, or my inability to conceive the _modus_ of its
moral operation on the human spirit; but still I hesitate to admit
its reality, because I do not feel its absolute necessity, either as
a basis of hope or a source of mental ease and satisfaction."

"I once, Sir, rejected the atonement as you now do, but when I saw
the malignant quality of sin, I could reject it no longer; and you
will allow me to say, that if it be a reality, and you finally
reject it, you will inevitably perish. Permit me, therefore, to
advise you to read the Scriptures attentively, examine the evidences
which they adduce of their divine origin, and implore the Father
of our spirits to aid the perceptions of your judgment and the
tendencies of your will on this important subject of inquiry. If,
after this intellectual and moral process has been adopted, you are
compelled to disbelieve the Scripture doctrine of the atonement, you
will have the show of argument in your favour; but if you reject it
without investigation, your folly will be no less apparent, even if
it be false, than your guilt will be overwhelming, if it should be
true."

"We must now," said the stranger, "leave this subject of discussion,
and bid adieu to each other; but I will give you my pledge of honour
that I will take your advice, and if you will exchange cards with me
you shall know the result, though I cannot allow you to imagine that
it will afford you any satisfaction."

"It may, and I hope it will."

The stranger (whose name I perceived, on looking at his card, was
Gordon), on taking leave of me, said, "I have been watching yonder
cloud some time, and am apprehensive a storm is rising; but I hope
we shall be able to escape it." I now hastened towards Fairmount;
but, as I had wandered the distance of some miles, I soon found that
it would be impossible to reach it without having to encounter the
threatening tempest. As I passed through a thick coppice, the birds
sat in silence on the branches, or flew with rapidity from one tree
to another; the wind blew with a deep and hollow sound; and then for
a few seconds ceased its howlings, as if to recover strength to send
forth a more dismal groan. On descending the slope which led into
the vale, a streak of lightning struck across my path, and the loud
roaring thunder, echoing through the valley, produced a universal
consternation in its flocks and herds. A sudden darkness came over
the whole horizon; the rain came down in torrents; and, having
missed my path, I knew not which way to proceed.

After walking on a considerable distance, I saw a cottage, towards
which I ran for shelter, and was welcomed in. The honest woodman
immediately ordered his eldest boy to fetch a large bundle of
sticks to throw on the fire; and I was requested to draw near and
dry myself. Up in the chimney-corner sat a fine-looking girl, about
nine years of age, whose eyes were bedewed with tears; another,
about three years older, sat in the window seat wrapped in pensive
sadness; an athletic youth, still older, was reclining himself
against the table; and the father soon drew, from the deep recesses
of a wounded breast, one of the most piercing groans that ever
vibrated across the sensibilities of my heart. These symptoms of
grief soon convinced me that I had retreated from the disorders
of the physical world, to witness the convulsive throes of the
social; and my spirits, which usually ebb and flow with the tide of
feeling on which they are borne, began to sink within me. "I fear,"
addressing myself to the father, "you are in trouble?" "O yes, Sir!
our hearts are all bursting; for death is coming to bear off our
little Jemima. She is up stairs, where she has now been these eight
days, and her mother has never left her, night or day. She is one
of the best girls a father ever loved." "But death does not come by
chance." "O, no; 'the Lord gave, and the Lord takes away; blessed be
the name of the Lord;' but it is hard work to part. Do walk up and
see her before she dies; but she is so changed!"

[Illustration: THE WOODMAN'S FAMILY IN TROUBLE.

Vol i. p. 105.]

I entered her room, and soon perceived that death had cast his fatal
shadow on her countenance, which still retained its beautiful form
and expression. Addressing myself to the child, I said, "Do you
think you shall die?" "Yes, Sir." "And if you die, where do you
expect to go?" "To heaven." "What makes you think you shall go to
heaven?" "Jesus Christ has said, 'Suffer little children, and forbid
them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'"
"What do you understand by coming to Jesus Christ?" "Believing in
him, and loving him." "Did you always believe in him, and love him?"
"No, not till he inclined me; for if we love him, it is because he
first loved us." "Then you can leave father, and mother, and all
your brothers and sisters, to go to heaven?" "Yes, Sir; I have no
wish to live on earth when I have the prospect of living a happier
life in heaven."

The surgeon, who had been anxiously expected for several hours, now
arrived. "Do you think," said the grief-worn mother, "our child
is dying?" This question, though familiar to the humane man, was
not heard without an evident emotion of sorrow. "While there is
life there is hope; but I would not advise you to be too sanguine
in your expectations; she is very ill." There was no burst of
anguish at this reply. They all knew Jemima was dying, though they
were unwilling to believe it; and though their pulse beat a little
quicker on hearing this reply, and their faces turned paler, yet
they stood pressing round the bed, as if to keep off the king of
terrors, whose advanced guards had taken the forlorn hope.

We now went down stairs; and, as the storm was over, the surgeon
left, but I could not leave. "Will you," said the father, "go to
prayer with us? If it were not for prayer, and the hope which the
gospel gives, my heart would break." With this request I complied;
and while praying to the God of all grace that the little child
might be favoured with the light of his countenance in her passage
through the valley of the shadow of death, I heard the mother's
shriek, which convinced me that she was gone. The children started
up, weeping aloud, wringing their hands, and calling, "Jemima!
Jemima! don't leave us." And the mother, with a softened melancholy
of countenance, appeared among as, saying, with a faltering tongue,
"_She exclaimed, as I was raising her up on the pillow, 'I am going
to heaven!' and fell back in my arms, and died_."

I remained with them about a quarter of an hour, administering to
them the consolations of religion, and then left them, in company
with the eldest boy, who conducted me to Fairmount, which I reached
about ten o'clock. I related to my friends the adventures of my
ramble, which compensated for the anxiety which my long absence
and the state of the weather had occasioned. When reflecting on
this fact, and contrasting the bright prospect which the gospel of
Christ unveils to the juvenile as well as to the aged Christian,
with the dark and cheerless gloom of infidelity, I feel its immense
superiority; and with emotions which no language can describe, I pay
my adorations and praises to Him who brought life and immortality to
light.



A SABBATH MORNING AT FAIRMOUNT.


Having spent a few hours in meditating on the great facts of the
Christian faith, an exercise in which I have for many years been
in the habit of engaging on a Saturday evening, I retired to rest,
and soon fell asleep; and in my sleep I had a dream. I dreamt that,
under a serene sky, I was passing through a beautiful vale, belted
on each side by a plantation of gigantic trees; and, on reaching
the end of it, I saw a broad gravel walk, running along the margin
of a rapid river; then turning off rather abruptly under the shade
of a high mountain, winding itself gradually into a grove of large
and beauteous shrubs, whose foliage surpassed, in diversified forms
and variegated colours, anything of the kind I had ever seen. The
soft breezes were laden with the most delicious odours of flowers;
and the air vibrated with the music of its feathered tribes. I often
paused; and while listening to the soft sounds of melody, and while
inhaling the sweet fragrance, I felt an unusual elevation of spirit,
a calm ecstasy of emotion. In about half an hour I came to a spot
which commanded a bold view of an extensive landscape; but the most
attractive object in this scene of beauty and of grandeur was a
church, imbedded in an inclosure of evergreens. I now quickened my
pace. As I advanced near it I heard the harmony of sacred song; but
it soon died away into profound silence. The devotional part of the
service was over before I entered the church, and the minister had
named his text; but, from the tenor of his discourse, I judged it
was "A PRINCE AND A SAVIOUR." The following is the only paragraph
which was distinct and fresh upon my memory when I awoke, and it was
delivered with an impressiveness of manner and intonation which kept
the entire congregation in breathless silence:--

"He walked through the province of human misery and crime, a
mysterious being, doing what He pleased, without ostentation and
with perfect ease. He gave sight to the blind, and hearing to the
deaf; disease, in its multifarious forms of infliction, withdrew
when He issued the command; the dead arose to do Him homage; the
raging elements, when His disciples were in danger, hushed to a calm
at His bidding; and the dumb became vocal in His praise. These were
the triumphs of benevolence over the miseries of man, requiring, on
His part, no privations or suffering to effect them. Shift the scene
of His history, and what a sight do we behold! He is poor, homeless,
and unpitied; often weary in His great exertions of beneficence;
and sometimes having to endure the extreme of hunger and of thirst.
His enemies revile Him as a fanatic; denounce Him as an impostor
and maniac; and accuse Him of treason and blasphemy; and secretly
conspire to put Him to death. The quietude of Gethsemane, where He
was pleading with heaven in behalf of the people, is broken by the
foot-treads of His betrayer, stepping in advance of an armed force;
in the council-chamber of Caiaphas he is maligned and insulted; and
when arraigned at Pilate's tribunal, He is scourged and condemned;
and at Calvary they crucify Him between two malefactors. There this
illustrious Prince bleeds, and there He dies; for what? and for
whom?" The pathetic tones in which this sentence was uttered--there
He bleeds, and there He dies; for what? and for whom?--bathed the
whole audience in tears; there was a sudden pause, and its stillness
awoke me.

"This," I said, as I came back to wakeful consciousness, "is a
dream, which has called up day thoughts in the visions of the night;
painting on the fancy, in vivid colours, the meditations of the
heart. A dream! strange phenomenon! the mysterious action of the
mysterious spirit, ever active, with or without the auxiliary aid
of the senses; but the facts of this dream are the realities of
absolute truth--the most wonderful and important realities within
the compass of universal knowledge. I can reply to the questions of
the dream in my wakeful hour. He bleeds; for what? The iniquities of
the people. He dies; for whom? He gave His life a ransom for the
redemption and salvation of man. Wondrous event!"

On looking out of my bedroom window, I saw the sun rising in his
splendour; the winds were at rest, no clouds veiled the heavens in
gloom. "It is," I involuntarily exclaimed, "a delightful Sabbath
morning." Seeing Hervey's _Meditations_ on my dressing-table, I took
it, and read his "Descant upon Creation," closing with the following
soul-inspiring paragraph:--

"Most of all, ye ministers of the sanctuary, heralds commissioned
from above, lift every one his voice like a trumpet, and loudly
proclaim the Redeemer. Get ye up, ye ambassadors of peace, get ye
up into the high mountains, and spread far and wide the honours of
the Lamb that was slain, but is alive for evermore. Teach every
sacred roof to resound with His fame, and every human heart to
glow with His love. Declare, as far as the force of words will go,
declare the inexhaustible fulness of that great atonement, whose
merits are commensurate with the glories of the Divinity. Tell the
sinful wretch what pity yearns at Immanuel's breast; what blood
He has spilt, what agonies He has endured, what wonders He has
wrought for the salvation of His enemies. Invite the indigent to
become rich; entreat the guilty to accept of pardon; because with
the crucified Jesus is plenteous redemption and all-sufficiency
to save. While you, placed in conspicuous stations, proclaim the
joyful sound, may I, as I steal through the vale of humble life,
catch the pleasing accents! For me the Author of all blessings
became a curse; for me His bones were dislocated, and His flesh was
torn. He hung with streaming veins and an agonizing soul on the
cross for me. O! may I, in my little sphere, and amidst the scanty
circle of my acquaintance, at least whisper these glad transporting
tidings!--whisper them from my own heart, that they may surely reach
and sweetly penetrate theirs.

"But when men and angels raise the grand hymn; when all worlds and
all beings add their collective acclamations--this full, fervent,
and universal chorus, will be so inferior to the riches of the
Redeemer's grace, so disproportionate to the magnificence of His
glory, that it will seem but to debase the unutterable subject it
attempts to exalt. The loud hallelujah will _die_ away in the solemn
mental eloquence of prostrate, rapturous, silent admiration.

    'O goodness infinite! goodness immense!
    And love that passeth knowledge! Words are vain;
    Language is lost in wonder so divine;
    Come, then, expressive _silence_, muse his praise.'"

On my way to the church, passing a cottage which stood a short
distance from a foot-path I was crossing, I saw a man and his two
sons at work in his garden; they made me a bow, which I acknowledged.

"Your cottage," I remarked, "is pleasantly situated; and you seem to
have a productive garden, and keep it in good order."

"Why, yes, Sir; but it costs us a deal of hard labour."

"Have you a large family?"

"Yes, Sir, we have six children; and, thank God, they are as healthy
as a spring morning."

"Who do you work for?"

"I and these two lads work for Farmer Goddard, who lives just over
the hill, as good a master as ever hired a servant."

"What time do you generally devote to your garden?"

"Why, Sir, we give it a few odd hours in the week; but as that is
not enough, we work at it on a Sunday morning till dinner-time."

"And what do you generally do after dinner on a Sunday?"

"The lads go on the green for a bit of a frolic, and I go up to the
Plough, and spend a few hours along with some of my neighbours."

"Can you read?"

"A little, Sir; but my wife can read as well as any of my master's
daughters."

"Have you a Bible?"

"Yes; but I don't read it much, because I can't understand it."

"Don't you think you could understand the following
passage:--'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt
thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the
sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou,
nor thy son.'"

[Illustration: "WE WORK ON SUNDAY TILL DINNER-TIME."

Vol. i. page 110.]

"Why, yes, Sir; that's plain enough to be understood; but such poor
folks as us can't afford to rest from labour on a Sunday."

"Do you think that God would command poor people to rest from their
labour on the Sabbath, unless He knew that it would be for their
good? And, besides, do you think that poverty will be admitted as an
excuse for a neglect of duty? Suppose your master was to tell you to
fetch up the cows from yon meadow, would your poverty be an excuse
for not doing it?"

"No; to be sure not. I ought to do what master bids me."

"If, then, you ought to do what master bids you, _ought you not to
do what God commands you_?"

"Why, yes, Sir; I must say that you are right."

"But you tell me that after dinner you go up to the Plough, where I
suppose you spend some of your money. Now, your poverty ought to be
an excuse to keep you from a public-house; but it ought not to be an
excuse to keep you away from church."

"Why, Sir, I must say there is reason in what you say, but I don't
spend much; and I like to have a little talk with my neighbours."

"But do you never think of another world?"

"Not so much as I should, Sir, I must say."

"Don't you know that you are born to live for ever? During the
first period of your existence you have to live in this world, and
this period is very short; during the next period of your existence
you will have to live in the invisible world, and that will never
end. And while here you are making preparation for your future and
changeless condition of existence--for heaven, and its happiness and
dignity, or for hell, and its misery and degradation."

"Why, Sir, to speak the truth, I never heard anything about this
till lately; but last Lady-day master hired a fellow-servant, who
has often talked to us on this subject; but I never give heed to
what he says, because he is a _fantic_, so Miss says, who has just
come home from boarding-school."

"A fanatic you mean; but that is a nick-name which people who
have no religion give to those who have. Now, I suppose your
fellow-servant understands more about the Bible and about religion
than you do?"

"More than I do! ay, more than all the rest on the farm put
together. He has got the Bible at his fingers' ends, and will tell
the meaning, too, off hand; and master has taken a great liking to
him, and is going off to his way of thinking, which, I hear, is a
mortal sorrow to mistress and the young ladies."

"Does his religion make him wretched?"

"Why, Sir, it is commonly thought in many of these parts, and by
many of the gentlefolks, that religion makes people unhappy; but I
am sure that our Sam is one of the happiest men on earth. I have
often said to my wife that there must be something in Sam's religion
which we don't know anything about; because, let whoever will be
dull and sorrowful, he is always happy."

"Yes, my honest fellow, there is more in religion than you, who do
not understand it, can form any notion of. Religion is something
more than resting from labour on a Sunday, and going to church."

"More than that, Sir! then I wish you would tell me what it is; for
I always thought that going to church was all that God required us
to do; and I heard mistress say so to master t'other day, and she
was in earnest when she said it, for she spoke loud enough to be
heard all over the kitchen."

"Yes, I will tell you with great pleasure. As we are depraved and
unholy, more disposed to love sin than to hate it, the Bible tells
us that the dispositions and propensities of our mind must be
changed by a supernatural power; and when this change takes place,
we become new creatures--old things pass away, and all things become
new. And as we are guilty sinners, we must repent of our sins, and
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save
sinners, even the chief."

"Ay, I see, all this belongs to the mind, and is something different
from merely going to church. Now I have often been to church, but I
always came out just as I went in. I never heard anything that ever
touched my heart."

Pleased with this reply, which seemed to indicate an apprehension
of the subject, I replied, "Yes; you may go to a church, and return
from it without possessing religion, for that has a peculiar and
direct reference to the heart, which is by nature deceitful and
impure. But yet religion is conveyed to the heart through the medium
of reading or of hearing. Hence it is our duty to read the Bible and
other good books, and to go and hear the gospel preached, because it
pleases God, by means of preaching, to save them that believe."

"Then I suppose, Sir, you are now going to church; but as you are
a stranger in these parts, perhaps you don't know that our parish
church stands yonder."

"Yes, I know it does; but I am not going to that church, because the
clergyman does not preach the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a
blind guide."

"No, Sir; on that point you are mistaken; his eye is as
sharp-sighted as a hawk's; he is the best shot in the parish."

"I don't mean that he is literally blind, but spiritually; that is,
he does not understand the religion of the Bible, and therefore he
does not teach it."

"That's what our Sam says, and I heard mistress let fly at him
rather sharply t'other day for saying so. But master now says the
same thing, which, I am told by the dairy-maid, gives mortal offence
to mistress and the young ladies. But I never knew master wrong in
his judgment of men and things. Where, Sir, are you going, if one
may be so bold to ask?"

"I am going to hear Mr. Ingleby, whose preaching has been such a
great blessing to many of his parishioners and others."

"That's the parson our Sam goes to hear; and master has taken to
go to hear him lately. He wants, so I have heard, mistress to go
with him, and the young ladies; but they won't; they say he is a
Methodist and _fantic_."

"Have you ever heard him preach?"

"No, Sir. I am told that his preaching drives people out of their
senses, and I should not like to part with what little I have."

"Did you ever know any one driven out of his senses by him?"

"Why, no, Sir; and I must say that I don't much believe it; and
for this reason, I always find people who like his preaching more
inclined to do poor people good, than those who talk against it.
Why, Sir, when my wife was last confined, we all thought that she
would die; and it is wonderful how kind some of Mr. Ingleby's
followers were to her. They gave her what she wanted for this world,
and talked to her so kindly about another world, that she has taken
a liking to them, and would have been off to their religion, but I
would not let her. We have had more words on this subject than any
other since we have been married, which is now eighteen years come
Christmas."

"And do you think that you have done right by opposing your wife?
Now, suppose you were to make up your mind to go and hear Mr.
Ingleby preach, how would you like for your master to say to you,
_No, you shall not go_?"

"I should not like it at all, because I think I have a right to go
where I please on a Sunday, if I do my work in the week."

"Then, has not your wife a right to go where she likes to worship
God, and get religious instruction, if she does her duties at home."

"Why, yes, Sir, and I sometimes think that I have done wrong by
stopping her."

"Now, take my advice, let her go, and go you too, and hear and judge
for yourself; and, take my word for it, you will never regret it."

I now left him, and hastened to church; and just as I entered, the
venerable man read from the desk, "I will arise and go to my Father,
and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and
before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me
as one of thy hired servants." He conducted the devotional part of
the service with great solemnity, and the congregation appeared to
feel that they were under the immediate notice of the Holy One of
Israel. After his entrance into the pulpit, he presented a short
extemporary prayer with great simplicity and fervour, and then
announced his text: Genesis xxviii. 16, 17.

I. It is the presence of God which constitutes the glory of the
visible temple.

II. He is sometimes present when the worshippers are unconscious of
the fact; and,

III. A belief of his presence is calculated to excite awe and
delight.

As a few notes of this sermon may not be unacceptable to the reader,
I will give them:

"That God actually dwells in the place where a pure worship is
performed, we have the most decisive proofs. 'In all places where
I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee'
(Exodus xx. 24).

"His presence is extended through all space, and operates with an
undiminished force in every part of his universal dominion; but
there is a more special manifestation of it where people assemble to
praise and pray. And though scepticism may ridicule such a notion as
giving locality to the Supreme Being, yet to deny it, is virtually
to exclude him from the government of the world. But what attracts
his notice? Not the rising spire, nor the tolling bell; not the
Gothic arch, nor the Corinthian column; not the flowing vestment
of the preacher, nor the purple robe of the hearer. These are the
embellishments and attractions of human device, which may captivate
and amuse the sentimental or the superstitious, but from such vain
shows the Holy One turns away, to look with complacency on an object
which a proud and sceptical world scorns to pity or to notice. 'To
this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite
spirit, and trembleth at my word' (Isaiah lxvi. 2).

"He is here, though you see him not, and though the sound of his
awful and paternal voice is never heard; and when you come into his
invisible presence, always remember that 'God is a Spirit: and they
that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth' (John iv.
24). You must bow before him in faith, believing that his eye is
upon you, and that he knows all the thoughts and desires of your
heart; you must confess and deplore your sins, and pray for mercy,
and for your eternal salvation in the name of Jesus Christ, giving
thanks for every good and perfect gift which he has bestowed upon
you. If you do this, then you may expect some special manifestations
of his grace and love; but if you feel no emotions of reverence, of
self-humiliation, or of gratitude, nor any intense desires for his
favour and loving-kindness, then you stand chargeable--even though
you may suppose you have done your duty--with the sin of hypocrisy
or insincerity, and of you the Lord may say, 'This people draw near
me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have
removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught
by the precept of men' (Isa. xxix. 13.)

"And, in addition to these exercises of mental devotion, you are to
listen to what God the Lord will say to you in the ministrations
of truth and grace, which His ministers are employed to conduct.
We preach, warning every man, and teaching every man, that we may
present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; but we warn and teach
in vain, unless you believe, and receive the truth in love and
gratitude, not as the word of man, but as the word of God; and if
our warnings and teachings do not take effect, you will die in your
sins and perish for ever. For how '_will you escape if you neglect
so great salvation_.'"

When going through the crowd, after the service of the church was
over, I noticed the man with whom I had been conversing in the
morning, a little way before me, with his wife and two of his
children. When he saw me, he came up, and, thanking me for my
advice, said, "I hope, Sir, I shall never forget this day; and I am
sure that I shall often think of you when I don't see you."

As I was sauntering along, meditating on the realities of the
visible and the invisible world, and offering my silent adorations
and thanksgivings to Him who gave himself a ransom for my
redemption, I heard the sound of footsteps behind me, and, turning
round, I was rather abruptly addressed by a stranger, who said, "I
thank you, Sir, for persuading my servant, Robert, to come to church
this morning. He is a good servant, and a better informed man than
most labourers; but he wants _the one thing needful_. Godly servants
are a master's treasure."

"Am I addressing Mr. Goddard?"

"Yes, Sir; and if I mistake not, you are the gentleman who has
called to see my friend, Mr. Pickford."

"Yes, I have visited him."

"I wish, Sir, you would come and see me. Your talk and prayer might
do my family good, as it has done his."

"I am glad to hear that you are turning your attention to the
salvation of your soul."

"Ah, Sir, I lived for many years, like most of the farmers in these
parts, a sad heathenish life; and I should have lived on in this
state till the hour of death, had it not pleased God to send me
a godly servant. His plain and honest talk set me thinking, and
reading my Bible, and then I went and heard the Rev. Mr. Ingleby
preach, and the gospel came with great power to my soul. It opened
before me a new scene of spiritual wonders, and a new source of
spiritual comfort. But I am sorry to say that all my family are
sadly opposed to spiritual things; they make light of them."

"You may live to see a change."

"I hope I may. But it is very painful, after being made alive from
the dead, to see my wife and children living under the sentence of
death. It makes my heart ache. What ought I to do?"

"Persuade them, when they go to public worship, to go where the
gospel is preached."

"They object, Sir, and I cannot force them."

"Try the efficacy of prayer--the prayer of faith and of
importunity--and calmly wait the issue."

We now parted, and when going by the church in which the Rev. Mr.
Cole does duty, I picked up an elegantly bound prayer-book, and
observing a fashionable couple at a distance, I quickened my pace,
that I might restore what I presumed they deemed valuable, if their
property. When I overtook them, I presented the book, and asked if
they knew to whom it belonged.

"O dear," said one of the ladies, "it is mine, but I had not missed
it. I thank you, Sir; we have heard a very excellent discourse this
morning from the Rev. Mr. Cole. O dear," said the lady, "I think he
is one of the most heavenly preachers I ever heard."

"Is his audience very large?" I asked.

"O no, Sir; only a few genteel people attend, and a few poor
old people, who receive the sacrament money, and some gifts at
Christmas."

"Then, I presume, there can be but little religion in the parish,
for the population is very large."

"O dear, Sir, I assure you there is a great deal too much religion
in our parish, and it is on this subject that Mr. Cole has been
preaching so eloquently this morning."

"Why, Madam, you both puzzle and surprise me. Too much religion in
a parish where the generality of the people forsake the church, and
a minister preaching eloquently against religion, which he lives to
inculcate and recommend!"

"I see you are a stranger among us," said the lady, "or you would
perceive the force of my remarks. The people all flock to a church
just over yonder hill, where a Mr. Ingleby preaches, and really,
Sir, if you associate with them, you would soon become quite dull
and melancholy, particularly so. Do you know, Sir, that they are
so far gone from all the elegant accomplishments of society, as to
say that it is a sin to play at cards, or attend a ball, or go to a
theatre, or anything of the kind? O dear, if I should ever, by any
misfortune, turn over to their religion, which I daily pray I may
be kept from, I should be, as the apostle says, of all, 'one of the
most miserable.'"

"Well, Madam, with your antipathies to their religion, one should
suppose you are in no danger."

"O dear, there are strange things that happen, Sir, in the course
of one's life. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, who live at Fairmount villa,
which we shall see presently, were, a few years since, as gay as
any. Mrs Stevens was never herself more completely than at a ball.
She is a most accomplished dancer; her action is so graceful; and
even now, Sir, she moves as if she were stepping on springs, which
makes me think she has some secret longings to appear amongst us
again--an event we should be so glad to see, she is such a choice
spirit; but now, as the apostle says, 'they are carried away with
this dissimulation.' They are now so religious that they read the
Bible, and sing a psalm, and say prayers every morning and evening
in the family; and I am told, but I should hope there is no truth in
the report, that when Mr. Stevens is from home, Mrs. Stevens so far
forgets herself as to say prayers to her servants."

"You should not believe everything that report says, Madam."

"O dear, I don't believe one-half, for I heard the other day that
Mrs. Stevens really goes to see a poor woman of the name of Allen,
who lives in this cottage which we are now passing, and that she
descends so low as to say prayers to her."

"Why, Madam, report is very busy in your neighbourhood; I am afraid
you are not living in peace."

"In peace, Sir; why, I assure you, it is the very worst
neighbourhood I ever was in in all my life. I never hear one person
speak well of another."

"How do you account for it, Madam?"

"O, Sir, it is religion which has done it. Not the religion of our
forefathers, but the religion which is imported from t'other side
of that hill. Do you know, Sir, that Farmer Goddard, who was one of
the pleasantest men I ever knew, has lately got infected by it; and
Miss Goddard, who has just finished her education at Mrs. Roper's,
told us, as we walked together to church this morning, they can do
nothing to please him. That when she wanted to go to Bath with Mr.
Johnson, to see the _Fall of Tarquin_, he would not let her go, but
had the rudeness to say she was going into the way of temptation."

"And do you think, Madam, it is right for a daughter to talk against
her own father?"

"Why, to be sure, Sir, you now put a question which never struck me
before."

"And do you think that a person of affluence and respectability
sustains any loss of reputation by visiting the poor and afflicted?"

"O, no, I have often thought of doing it myself; but really, Sir, I
don't know what I could say to them. I suppose it would be necessary
to descend."

"Yes, Madam; the Lord of life and glory descended, when he assumed a
human form to accomplish our redemption; but I rather fear, from the
general strain of your remarks, that you have no accurate conception
of the design of his mission, or of his death."

"O dear, Sir, I wonder at your remark. He came to teach us to be
religious."

"And, Madam, the first lesson he has taught us is to this effect:
'Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God.'"

"Do you know, Sir, I never could understand the meaning of that
language; and I have asked several of my friends, but they can't
tell me; and one evening when I met the Rev. Mr. Cole at a card
party, I proposed the question to him, but he was so much engaged
that he could not attend to it."

"But you perceive, that unless we are born again, '_we cannot enter
into the kingdom of heaven_.' I can tell you who can explain it to
you."

"Who, Sir?"

"The Rev. Mr. Ingleby."

"O dear, you alarm me. Do you think I could ever go and ask him?"

"Would you then rather live and die ignorant of the meaning of the
subject, than go and ask him to explain it to you?"

"Why, Sir, if I were to be seen speaking to him, my friends would
cut me, and I should never be able to appear at any of our social
parties."

"But, Madam, it is a serious thing to die without possessing that
which Jesus Christ says is absolutely necessary to fit us for
heaven."

"But, Sir, I am not going to die yet."

"I hope not, Madam, but you must die, and must stand before the
judgment-seat of Christ, and then do you think that a recollection
of your card parties will afford you any pleasure?"

"But I hope to prepare for death."

"Can you, Madam, prepare too soon, when you do not know but you may
die suddenly?"

"O dear, Sir, the subject begins to depress me, and I must decline
pursuing it any farther, if you please."

"Read, Madam, before you retire to rest this evening, the third
chapter of the gospel of John; ponder over what you read, it may do
you some spiritual good."



SABBATH EVENING AT FAIRMOUNT.


In the estimation of Mr. Stevens, who was educated within the pale
of the Church of England, and who had imbibed from his parents an
intolerant spirit, the Dissenters were unworthy of the toleration
which had been granted to them; as he believed they were decidedly
inimical not only to the religious, but the political constitution
of the state. Hence he often blamed the government for granting
them so much religious liberty. And even after he had felt the
spiritual change, which forms the great line of distinction in the
human character, he retained, for a long time, too many of his old
prejudices against them. But, becoming an active agent of the Bible
Society, he was unexpectedly brought into contact with some whom
he found to be men of sense, of piety, of zeal, and of candour;
more disposed to disseminate the pure faith of Christianity, than
propagate their own peculiar tenets. He now rose superior to his
long indulged antipathies; and though he still gave a decided
preference to the church of which he was a member, yet he felt
convinced that there were many wise and good men belonging to other
religious communities. As he was by nature of an open and generous
disposition, the spirit of liberality found in his heart a congenial
soil for its growth and expansion. He would often repeat, with
peculiar warmth of expression, the following verses:--

    "Be that bigotry far from our breast,
         Which would Christian from Christian divide;
     Which by blind party zeal is caress'd,
         The offspring of folly and pride.

    "Names, parties, and sects disappear,
         With their separate int'rests and laws,
     No name, but of Christ, would we bear,
         No int'rest but that of his cause."

Happily for him, and for the neighbourhood in which he lived, his
pastor, the Rev. Mr. Ingleby, was a man of a most catholic spirit,
who viewed the circumstantial differences which prevail among
Christians as of little consequence, in comparison with the more
important truths on which they are agreed. _He felt a stronger
attachment to the Redeemer_ than to the formula of the church of
which he was a minister; and though he was a man of order, and
conscientious in the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, yet
he thought that the Word of God ought not to be bound by human
restrictions.

As the population of the parish was large, and the gospel was
not preached within the distance of two miles from Mr. Stevens'
villa, he, at the suggestion of his amiable lady, conceived the
design of building a small chapel in its immediate vicinity, for
a religious service on Sabbath evenings. He was aware that he
should subject himself to the sarcasms, if not to the contempt, of
the more fashionable and bigoted; but he esteemed the reproach of
Christ a greater honour than the applause of men; and seeing the
people around him perishing for lack of the knowledge of the way of
salvation, he thought it his duty to do all in his power to make it
known to them. But he did not venture on the execution of his plan
till he had first consulted his pastor, who, instead of censuring
him for his zeal, or presuming to silence him _for not possessing
the mysterious charm of office, grace_, encouraged him to proceed.
"If," said the holy man, "you can get the people to love the gospel
in the evening, they will soon come to church to hear it in the
morning; and if they should be converted through the instrumentality
of lay preaching, they will love the Saviour as much, and be at last
as happy in heaven, as though the great change were produced through
the instrumentality of clerical preaching."

The chapel was built on an elevated spot of ground near the
roadside, so that it was visible from the most populous parts of the
hamlet; and though the building of it gave great offence to a few,
yet it pleased the majority. At first, Mr. Stevens read a sermon to
the congregation; but after a while he composed discourses, which
he delivered extempore; and being a man of reading, and of a ready
utterance, his labours gave very general satisfaction. Some of the
thoughtless had become serious, and some of the dissipated had
become religious, which he considered a satisfactory proof of the
Divine blessing; and though he was much importuned by some of his
friends to abandon what they called _his wild project_, and resume
his more orderly habits of a regular churchman, yet he steadily
refused to do so. His reply to the gainsayer was, "The love of
Christ constraineth _me_."

    "Yes, and he reaps the fruit of all his toil,
     He sows the seed, and God has bless'd the soil;
     He sees the wicked man forsake his ways;
     The scoffing tongue has learned to perfect praise;
     The drunken quits his revelry and strife,
     And meekly listens to the word of life;
     The noisy village, wanton and profane,
     Grows neat and decent, peace and order reign;
     At length wide districts hail the gospel rays,
     And the once savage miner kneels and prays;
     Through his dark caverns shines the heavenly light,
     And prejudice grows silent at the sight."

On the Sabbath evening we were at Fairmount, the Rev. Mr. Morris
was expected to preach a charity sermon for the school which was
established and superintended by Mrs. Stevens. He came early in
the afternoon, and after tea, while he withdrew to prepare for
the pulpit, I retired for meditation; and in passing through the
hall, my attention was arrested by a female, who was waiting with
her little girl to see Mrs. Stevens. She informed me that her
parents had never given her any religious instruction; that no one
ever taught her to read the Scriptures, or keep holy the Sabbath
day; and that, till recently, she had no expectation of living in
another world after death. When about eighteen years of age, having
lost her father and mother, she married a soldier, who belonged
to a foot regiment, and she was permitted to go with him to the
continent. While sojourning among strangers, she was exposed to
the most extreme hardships; but her greatest trial was the death
of her husband, who was killed just before the birth of her child.
After his decease she returned to England, and settled in her native
village; where, like the majority around her, she lived without God,
without Christ, and without hope, till after the erection of the
chapel. Having often felt the disadvantages of her inability to read
or write, she resolved, if possible, to give her child an education;
and as soon as she heard of the establishment of this school, she
applied for her admission, and her request was granted. The children
were taught in the afternoon of the Sabbath, and they usually
attended the public service in the evening, with their parents.

On one occasion Mr. Stevens addressed his rustic audience from the
following words: "Come, see a man, which told me all things that
ever I did: is not this the Christ?" (John iv. 29). As he proceeded
to unveil the hidden mysteries of the heart, the conscience of this
widow began to smite her; she could not imagine from what source he
had derived such an accurate knowledge of her character and history;
she felt self-condemned; and had it not been for the invitation
which was given to the weary and heavy laden, to come to Jesus
Christ, she must, to quote her own language, "have gone home in
despair." But the wound was no sooner inflicted than it was healed;
and though her views of the scheme of salvation were circumscribed,
yet they were clear, and operated with so much force on her moral
character, that she was become a new creature in Christ Jesus.

Thus, while the sons of science pour contempt on the gospel as
beneath their notice, and the patrons of ecclesiastical order
condemn all departures from the restrictions and limitations of
human authority, yet its history demonstrates that the God of all
grace will employ it as the means of converting sinners, even when
it is preached by men who have not studied theology within the walls
of a college, and also when it is preached in places which have not
been invested with the charm of human consecration.

From the garden in which I was walking I had an extensive view of
the surrounding country, and watched with peculiar delight the
people advancing in every direction towards the house of prayer. It
indeed was a lovely sight! The old and the young, the healthy and
the infirm, the poor, and a few of the rich, were pressing onward,
with eagerness and decorum, apparently conscious that they were
going to worship the Lord of hosts.

The children commenced the service by singing a hymn, composed for
the occasion; and such was the effect which it produced on the
crowded congregation, that many wept--not tears of grief, but of
joy. The Rev. Mr. Morris preached a very judicious sermon, from the
words of Solomon: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and
when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Prov. xxii. 6). When
enforcing on parents the importance of training up their children
in the way in which they should go, he said, "You may be denied the
gratification of seeing any immediate advantage resulting from your
labours; but you ought not, therefore, to conclude that they will
prove useless. The religious principles which you instil into their
minds may lie concealed for a long time without being destroyed, as
the seed which the husbandman casts in the ground remains inactive
till called forth into expansion and growth under a mild and genial
influence. They may be striking root, and shooting up into active
life, at the time when you are despairing of ever reaping the
reward of your labour." He illustrated and confirmed these remarks
by a quotation taken from Cecil's _Remains_. "Where," says Cecil,
"parental influence does not convert, it hampers. It hangs on the
wheels of evil. I had a pious mother, who dropped things in my way.
I could never rid myself of them. I was a professed infidel; but
then I liked to be an infidel in company, rather than when alone.
I was wretched when by myself. These principles and maxims spoiled
my pleasure. With my companions I would sometimes stifle them; like
embers, we kept one another warm. Besides, I was here a sort of a
hero. I had beguiled several of my associates into my own opinions,
and I had to maintain a character before them. But _I could not
divest myself_ of my better principles. I went with one of my
companions to see the _Minor_; he could laugh heartily, but I could
not. The ridicule on regeneration was high sport to him--to me it
was none; it could not move my features. _He_ knew no difference
between regeneration and transubstantiation. _I_ did. I knew there
was such a thing. I was afraid and ashamed to laugh at it. Parental
influence thus cleaves to a man; it harasses him; it throws itself
continually in his way."

On walking from the chapel, after the close of the service, I
overtook a gentleman, who confessed that he had been hostile to the
benevolent designs of Mr. Stevens, but that, in future, he would
co-operate with him.

"And why, Sir," I asked, "were you hostile to them?"

"Because I did not understand them; and it is to this cause, I have
no doubt, that we may attribute much of the opposition he has met
with."

"The world," I replied, "is governed by prejudice, and not by
reason; and hence, what is excellent and beneficial is often
condemned and often opposed, because prejudice has been excited
against it by misrepresentation or misconception. Prejudice led
Nathaniel to exclaim, when the advent of the Saviour was announced
to him, 'Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?' And prejudice
often induces many, in modern times, to say, 'Can any good result
from teaching children to read, or from preaching the truth in any
other place than in a church?'"

"Yes, Sir," was the reply; "and it is very difficult to dislodge
prejudice after it has taken possession of the mind; for though
there are seasons when its absurdity is admitted, yet the dread
of abandoning old opinions, which have received the sanction of
ages, and of adopting new ones, which are held in general contempt,
operates with such force, that but few are courageous enough to
overcome it. The following lines of a modern poet may be thought
severe, but they are correct:--

    'Though man a thinking being is defin'd,
    Few use the grand prerogative of mind:
    How few think justly of the thinking few!
    How many never think, who think they do!
    Opinion, therefore--such our mental dearth--
    Depends on mere locality or birth.'"

"True, Sir; but the few who burst the bonds of prejudice, and claim
the privilege of thinking, and judging, and acting for themselves,
though contemned and reproached by the multitude, are the pioneers
of an adventurous and ever active benevolence, the ornaments and
benefactors of the age and the country in which they live. Suppose
Mr. Stevens had been held in subjection by the bigoted opinions of
others, the children who are now taught to fear God and honour man,
would be left to rise up in life without any accurate perceptions of
their duties; and the village, which now enjoys the light of life,
would still be sitting in the shadow of death. He may be ridiculed
for his zeal, and reprobated for his irregularities as a member of
the Established Church; but can any one who believes the truth of
the Scripture, suppose that his conduct is displeasing to _Him_ who
requires all his disciples to do what they can to hasten the coming
of His kingdom?"

"I knew Mr. Stevens," said the stranger, "when he was a man of
gaiety and of pleasure, and I have known him since he has been a
religious man; and although unable to account for the amazing change
which has been produced in him, yet I always gave him credit for
meaning well. Some religious people are ashamed of their principles,
but he has professed them openly; some contend for them in a rude,
dogmatic, and antichristian manner, but he has displayed as much
amiability of temper as he has decision of conduct; and while many
whom I know have conformed as much as possible to the customs and
habits of the world to avoid its censures, he has uniformly paid
as much respect to the preceptive parts of Christianity, as he has
discovered zeal in the propagation of its doctrinal tenets. And it
is this uniform consistency of conduct on his part, that induced me
to attend the Union Chapel this evening, and I do not hesitate to
say that I have been gratified and instructed."

When I reached Fairmount I had the pleasure of being introduced to
Miss Roscoe, who had ventured, for the first time, to attend the
chapel. This young lady united in her person the fascinations of
beauty with superior mental accomplishments; and though she would
occasionally intermingle with the gay and the fashionable, and
participate in their pleasures, yet she was more attached to reading
and retirement. This disposition was cherished by her father, who
was a man of close study, and passionately fond of disputation. He
would sometimes relax from the ardour of intellectual pursuits, and
enter into the amusements of the theatre, the ball-room, and the
card party, with energy and vivacity; but soon he would grow weary
of such pastimes, and return to his more rational employments. He
was well read in history--a good botanist--had acquired an extensive
knowledge of the science of geology--had studied Blackstone and Burn
with attention; but the largest portion of his time was devoted to
the investigation of the Scriptures. After Miss Roscoe had finished
her education at a boarding-school, she pursued her studies under
the superintendence of her father, who was eminently qualified to
enrich her mind with the treasures of knowledge and of wisdom.
Thus months and years rolled on in regular succession, with but few
incidents of a painful nature, till He

    "Who waits his own well chosen hour,
     Th' intended mercy to display,"

inflicted a wound in her heart, which was attended with an unusual
depression of spirit. She felt the stroke, but knew not from whence
it came, nor could her father tell her who could heal it. He was
advised to try what effect a change of air and society would have
on her spirits; and hence he removed his family to Dawlish in
Devonshire, where they spent the whole of the summer; but still her
morbid melancholy increased, and the physician recommended a visit
to Bath for the winter, as the only expedient which was likely to
prevent the entire loss of health, if not of her reason. Here she
was hurried, by the ardour of parental solicitude, into scenes of
gaiety and amusement, which now had lost their charm; and though she
often refused to go, saying that they could afford her no pleasure,
yet, her reluctance being regarded as an inveterate symptom of her
complaint, she was compelled to yield, till she frankly said, "If
you wish me to regain my long-lost tranquillity, cease to force me
where the gaiety of others increases my mental depression, and let
me return home, that, in the retirement of solitude, I may find rest
from the aggravating amusements of human gaiety and folly."

Mrs. Stevens, who was intimate with the family, and had held some
religious conversation with Miss Roscoe before she left home, made
a morning call on her return, when she found her alone. Referring
to Doddridge's _Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul_, which
she had presented to her on a former occasion, she received a
reply which gave her great pleasure; and, from some incidental
expressions, she was convinced that the cause of her depression
lay in the deep recesses of her heart. She therefore suggested to
her, as the only effectual means of its removal, a perusal of the
Scriptures. "I once felt," she said, "what you now feel, and though
my mental anguish was not so acute as yours, nor so overwhelming in
its influence, yet I should have sunk under it, had it not been for
the consolations of mercy which I found in the Bible."

This communication, which was not less unexpected than the
appearance of the angel of God to Hagar, as she sat in the solitude
of maternal grief, mourning over her child in the agonies of
death, raised the spirit of Miss Roscoe from beneath that load of
depression which was sinking her into despair, and she inquired,
with singular emphasis of expression:--

"And do you indeed think that the Bible will afford me any relief?
I have not been permitted to see it since the commencement of my
illness; but if you recommend it, I will peruse it."

"Yes, my dear; that book, which a thoughtless world despises, is
Heaven's best gift to man.

    'I know and feel it is a blessed book;
    And I remember how it stopp'd my tears
    In days of former sorrow; like some herb
    Of sov'reign virtue to a wound applied.'"

"But," said Miss Roscoe, whose independent mind had not lost its
intellectual vigour during the gloomy night of mental sadness, "what
does the Bible reveal, which is so peculiarly appropriate to me?"

"It reveals a Saviour, who came into the world to save sinners."

"That truth I know, and I cannot banish it from my recollection; but
I cannot perceive how the belief of it is calculated to bring back
my long-lost happiness."

"But, my dear, _if you did believe it_, in the scriptural
acceptation of the term, it would not only remove the depression
of your spirits, but raise you into a higher and a purer state of
felicity than that from whence you are fallen."

"I do believe it, and what more is required?"

"What more, my dear Miss Roscoe? You should reduce your belief to
a practical operation, and, in the most simple and humble form of
speech, plead the merits of the Saviour's death for the remission
of your sins, for peace of conscience, and for eternal life. 'For
through Him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.' You are
unhappy, but know not the cause; and that morbid melancholy which
has destroyed your health, and laid waste the vivacity of your
spirits, has hitherto set at defiance every expedient which you have
employed for its removal; but such is the mysterious efficacy of the
death of Jesus Christ, _when the design of his death is perceived_,
that it makes the wounded spirit whole, and it calms the troubled
breast. The state of your mind is neither hopeless nor singular; and
though at present you may not be able to perceive how your mental
anguish can issue in mental peace, yet, if you try the efficacy of
prayer, you will see 'the darkened cloud withdraw;' and then you
will adore the grace which humbles to exalt, which impoverishes to
enrich, and which renders our sources of earthly pleasure incapable
of affording delight, that we may be compelled to derive our supreme
felicity from fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ."

This intercourse led to an intimacy, which soon ripened into a
strong attachment; and that morbid melancholy, which had withstood
the rural charms of Dawlish, and the captivating amusements of Bath,
began to give way under the religious communications of a friend,
who had often been ridiculed for her zeal, and sometimes reproached
for attempting to disturb the peace of those whose happiness she
lived to promote.

Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe saw, with no ordinary emotions of delight, the
dawning of serenity on the countenance of their beloved child, but
knew not the cause till they accidentally saw her reading the Bible,
which they had been recommended to keep from her. In the evening,
as they were sitting together, Mr. Roscoe said, "I think, my dear
Sophia, that you are regaining your former vivacity."

"I am more happy than I was, but not so happy as I wish to be."

"The light of bliss, I hope, my dear, is shining on you, but I fear
lest it should again depart. You must be cautious what you read; and
if you will permit me to offer you my advice, I would recommend you
_light reading, which, I think, would just now have a good effect_."

"I thank you, my dear father, for your advice, but such reading
would bring back the gloom which the light of revealed truth is
scattering from around my mind. There is no book which I read with
so much pleasure as the Bible."

"The Bible contains much important history; it abounds with
interesting narratives; it makes us familiar with the customs of
ancient times, and supplies us with some inimitable specimens of
good composition; but I would advise you not to read the Epistles
of the New Testament, lest they should perplex and bewilder you,
and lead you off into a state of mental distraction, which no human
skill would be able to control or subdue."

"You know, my dear father, that no human skill has been able to
control or remove that fixed melancholy under which I have been
labouring for nine months; but I feel now greatly relieved from
it; and I assure you that it is the perusal of that portion of the
Scripture which you wish me to avoid, to which I attribute, under
the blessing of God, the delightful change which has taken place in
the state and frame of my mind."



THE BIBLE DISDAINED.


As it was a very fine evening, I resolved on taking my usual walk,
and sallied forth, sauntering along, undecided where to go, till I
came within sight of the towering hill overlooking the woodman's
cottage. "Yes, I will go and see the surviving mourners. They are
doubtless still in trouble; but the heavy swell of grief may have
subsided a little, now that all that remained of their lovely
Jemima[3] is in the grave." The rich scenery through which I was
passing supplied me with ample and varied materials for thinking;
but my thinking faculty felt more inclined to muse on death and
immortality than on trees or flowers, on bleating sheep, or on
lowing cattle.

  [3] See p. 106.

Yes, man dies; but he still lives. He passes from one locality and
condition of existence to another. He will never die again. No, his
next life is endless. If saved, what varied and splendid forms of
beauty and of grandeur will open on his vision the moment he passes
the dark frontier that divides the visible from the unseen world!
What sounds of harmony, coming from the pure and happy spirits of
the celestial state, will vibrate on his ear! What ecstasy will he
feel when presented faultless before the glorious presence of the
Divine Majesty! If lost!--Woe, woe, woe! My heart recoils from a
contemplation of his fearful and changeless destiny.

On entering the cottage I saw a stranger, in the costume of a
gentleman, polite and accomplished; but there was an air of
mannerism about him uncongenial to my taste. The woodman and his
wife were glad to see me, and after making a few faint allusions
to the mournful event which had recently occurred, they relapsed
into expressive silence, which induced me to suppose that my abrupt
appearance had interrupted some conversation or discussion. At
length, after a little desultory and somewhat forced chit-chat, the
woodman, who appeared rather singularly excited, addressing himself
to the stranger, said, "There is, Sir, one evidence that the Bible
comes from God, which gives to me and my wife entire satisfaction,
and against which no objection can be brought that can stagger or
weaken our faith."

"These good people," said the stranger, turning towards me, "appear
not to have perplexities enough in the casualties and contingencies
of life, and therefore they are perplexing themselves by the
mysteries of the Bible."

"Yes, Sir," said the wife, "just as we should perplex ourselves if
an old and endeared friend looked in to see us, bringing with him
some good news. We certainly might feel a little perplexed about
the accommodation we could give him, but none on account of his
coming to see us, or the good news he brings; that would be a matter
of rejoicing."

"I admire the happy art you possess to give a good turn to an
objectionable observation. Well, Mr. Woodman, let me hear what this
evidence is, which gives to you both so much satisfaction, and which
you think no objection can set aside. I see," taking out his watch
as he spoke, "I must soon go."

"Why, Sir, it is just this: when reading my Bible, I cannot help
thinking of myself--my condition as a sinful and an immortal
being--of my last end--of God, his goodness in providence, but his
still greater goodness in making such grand provision, through the
redemption of Christ, for my present and future happiness. These
thinkings awaken in my soul gratitude, and love, and filial trust in
Him, and constrain me to surrender my soul to Him, through Christ,
to be redeemed, sanctified, and saved. Now, Sir, as the road which
leads _to_ your mansion must lead _from_ it, so I think that the
Bible, which _leads us to God_, as our father and our best friend,
_must come from Him_."

"Well, my good fellow," rising, and taking him by the hand, "perhaps
it would do you no good if I were to attempt to disturb you while
reposing with so much satisfaction in your innocent delusions."

"You have, Sir, been trying to do it for the last hour and a half,"
said the wife, with a marked emphasis of severe rebuke, "and without
directing us to any other source of comfort under our troubles. We
have just lost one of our dear children; but the Bible reconciles me
to that loss, by telling me that my child is now happy in heaven;
but you have been trying to make us believe that this is a delusion.
Why, Sir, you would, if in your power, do us a greater act of
cruelty than Captain Dunlop, who lives in yon big house, attempted
to do to us last autumn."

"I would scorn to commit an act of cruelty against any one,
especially against you, who have behaved with so much civility to
me. But what act of cruelty did the Captain meditate committing
against you?"

"You see, Sir, that little running brook which feeds the watercress
you have just relished so much. Well, the Captain, last autumn,
cut a deep channel for it to run through the glen, in an opposite
direction, but Squire Stevens interfered, and prevented him. Now,
Sir, if he had done what he was going to do, he would have taken
from us our stream of water. But, even then, by raising a little
subscription amongst our neighbours, we might perhaps have sunk a
well, and though the water might not be so good or so plentiful, yet
it might have answered our purpose. But, Sir, if you take away our
Bible, or, what is the same thing, if you were to destroy our belief
in its inspiration and authority, you would take from us the rich
flow of comfort it supplies to us in our troubles, and you would cut
us off from the hope of future happiness. Now, if you had succeeded
in your endeavours, your visit would be to us as great a curse as
the visit of the devil was to our first parents in Eden."

"You are, indeed, eloquently ingenious. Well, the next time I come I
won't say anything against your Bible."

"I hope not, Sir," said the honest woodman, who appeared much
pleased with the smart reproof his wife had administered to this
stranger; "for if you do, we shall then say at once, what I now
say after long endurance, we would rather have your room than your
company. I think, Sir, such gentlemen as you should keep within the
compass of your own sceptical fraternity, and then you may say what
you please, and perhaps not do much harm. But when you enter the
cottage of the poor, and find them happy in God, and thankful to Him
for their Bible, you ought to feel it _a point of honour_ not to try
to steal away their happiness; as I suppose you have too much honour
to pocket any spoons when you go away from a rich man's house."

I listened with amazement and delight to the artless defence and
severe rebuke of the woodman and his wife, and addressing them,
said, "I am happy to hear you administer such a severe and just
rebuke to this gentleman; and which, Sir," turning towards him,
"I hope you will feel at the core of your heart, and that it will
prevent your repeating elsewhere the act of meanness of which you
have been guilty here--stealing a poor man's Bible, while eating his
bread and cheese."

"Do you, Sir, mean to insult me? I allow no one to do that with
impunity."

"Indeed, Sir! If speaking the truth, in a tone and style in which it
ought to be spoken to a man in the attire and with the appearance of
a gentleman, who enters a poor man's cottage, and, while feasting at
his table, is mean enough to try to destroy his faith in his Bible,
which is the well-spring of his happiness, be regarded by you as
an insult, why, then, there is no alternative but to feel yourself
insulted."

He looked, but said no more, and tossing, rather unceremoniously, a
half-crown piece on the table for the refreshment he had received,
he left in high dudgeon, muttering to himself as he moved away.

"These infidels, Sir," said the woodman, "in one thing are like the
Pharisees of the New Testament; they won't go into the kingdom of
heaven themselves, and they want to prevent others going there if
they can. He began his infidel remarks before my children, but I
sent them away, and told him that I would not let a child, if I knew
it, get near an infected person."

"I suppose you don't often meet with infidels."

"More often, Sir, than I wish; for I generally find they are bad
men--some bad in their habits, and all bad in their principles. The
high-priest of their order lives up in yonder mansion, and he has
many visitors. He used to come to our cottage sometimes, but he does
not come now, as I offended him one day, by telling him that it was
an act of meanness, as well as injustice, to try to cut off the
stream of water from the poor families that live near it, for some
miles in its course, and doing it to enrich his own meadows."

"Well," said his wife, "we should pity them, and pray for them,
and bless the Lord for making us to differ. It often pains my heart
to think of a person living a few years in wealth and honour, and
then passing into the eternal world to perish for ever. We have many
troubles, yet some comforts. There, Sir," pointing to her Bible, "is
our grand comforter; its precious promises speak peace to the soul,
and take our hopes onwards to a better world, where the weary will
enjoy rest for ever."

I read the fourth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians,
making a few comments on its last verse, adapted to the excited
state of feeling occasioned by the death and burial of their little
Jemima; and, after praying with them, I withdrew, yet promising to
repeat my visit before my departure from Fairmount.

On getting over the stile which crossed my pathway about half-a-mile
from the cottage, I saw the infidel standing where I had seen Mr.
Gordon standing on a preceding Saturday evening; and though at first
I thought he was waiting for me, yet I soon perceived that he was
admiring the grand panoramic view which was visible from that spot.
I passed within a few yards of him, and in the act of passing we
exchanged a bow of recognition.

"It appears, Sir," he said, "that we are going in the same
direction, and, if agreeable, I will walk with you."

I at once consented, thinking that I might have an opportunity of
making an assault on his scepticism, which possibly might issue in
some practical good.

"You were rather too severe upon me in the cottage."

"If I thought so, Sir, I would offer you an apology; but my few
remarks, though severe, were, I think, just."

"Well, well, perhaps I did wrong. But the fact is, I found both the
woodman and his wife so shrewd and intelligent, that, on hearing
them make some impassioned allusions to the Bible, I thought they
would appreciate some remarks tending, at least in my opinion, to
counteract the terrible impression of fear and dread which a belief
in the inspiration and authority of the Bible necessarily calls up
and fixes in the heart."

"But you see it inspires no fear in them; it is not to them the
haunting ghost of terror, but a domestic comforter."

"Well, I can't account for it; I wonder how any one who believes in
the Bible, which speaks of hell and endless misery, can sleep calmly
on his pillow. I suppose they must believe one part, and disbelieve
the other."

"No, Sir, it is because their belief in one part inspires confidence
in the love and faithfulness of God their Saviour, they can believe
the other part without dread or fear."

"I presume you are a firm believer in the Bible."

"I am, Sir."

"May I be permitted to ask you what is the predominant impression it
makes on your mind--terror or tranquil peace?"

"If I were to say that it never awakened an emotion of terror, I
should not speak strictly correct. When I have reflected on sin, its
essentially evil nature and tendency; on my own sins, their number
and peculiar aggravations; on the Divine purity and justice; and on
the tremendous visitations of punishment which have been, and still
are inflicted on man, both in this world and in the world to come, I
have felt a tumult of terror agitating my soul, of a fearful aspect.
But, Sir, my faith sees one in the midst of the storm, whose eye
is pity, and whose arm is power; and my prayer is, _Lord save or I
perish_. He hears and he answers this prayer."

"But how do you know that he hears and answers your prayers?"

"Because my dark forebodings cease, and there is a calm within, as
there was a great calm on the Lake of Galilee when our Lord rebuked
the winds and the sea."

"Were you trained, Sir, to a belief in the Bible?"

"I once rejected the Bible as a book of fables or falsehoods."

"You, then, were once what I am now--an unbeliever; and I was once
what you are now--a believer. How the human character changes as
time moves slowly on, to bring out the great teacher, death, who
will finally settle everything."

"Yes, Sir, and for ever."

"What awful sublimity in that short sentence--_yes, and for ever_.
The subject of our conversation interests me, as I have heard that
prisoners committed for capital offences sometimes evince a peculiar
intensity of emotion when listening to the mock process of a trial;
the rehearsal of the coming tragedy pleases them. But to return to
our subject, may I be permitted to ask you whether you now live
habitually free from terror?"

"I do, Sir."

"Never calculate on being damned for ever?"

"Never."

"And you can sleep as calmly on your pillow, with the Bible by
your side, as you could if you believed the dark world of hell had
vanished into air--gone out of existence for ever?"

"Yes, Sir, I can."

"This, Sir, is to me inexplicably marvellous. I wonder how any one,
who believes in the Divine authority of the Bible, can ever look at
it without feeling terrified, as children feel when going into a
dark room, after listening to a series of fearful ghost stories."

"Why, Sir, the very design of the Christian revelation, given to
us in the Bible, is not only to deliver us from the wrath to come,
_but from the dread of it_. And this it does, when we believe in its
Divine origin, and yield to its authority."

"I was a believer once, and fond of theological studies; but the
predominant influence of my faith was most oppressive, at times
agonizing. I could never rise above terror; the dread of being lost
for ever haunted me almost day and night."

"If you watched the mental process which was going on during the
time you were a believer in the Bible, and can now distinctly
recollect it, perhaps you will perceive there was one great act you
failed to perform, which is the testing and the decisive act of a
genuine believer--the passing of the Rubicon."

"To what act do you refer?"

"To the act of coming to Jesus Christ, in compliance with his own
invitation and promise--'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest' (Matt. xi. 28). '_Him that
cometh to me I will in no wise cast out_'" (John vi. 37).

"Yes, Sir, I recollect having my eye often fixed on the two
verses you have quoted, and others which speak of coming to him
for life, and to be saved; but a veil of mystery hung over them
which I could not lift up. I had the loftiest conceptions of his
superhuman greatness and goodness; the fine blending of majesty
and meekness, of dignity and condescension in his character,
awakened my admiration; his pity, his love, his spotless purity,
awed and delighted me; and I often felt indignant--a real loathing
of spirit--when reflecting on the brutal treatment he met with
from his countrymen; but I never could make out, from anything
I read in the New Testament, how he could stand in the relation
of a Saviour to me, or how I could perform that act of coming to
him, on which he places the issue of salvation. And this is the
origin of my unbelief. I had no wish to become an unbeliever; I
became one against my inclination, and in opposition to early, and
long-cherished, and endeared associations; but necessity compelled
me; because, after long and intense thinking, I found that the
proferred blessing of salvation was placed on an impracticable and
an impossible contingency. Nor have I, as yet, had cause to regret
it. I now can live without dread of the future; and I have no doubt,
if there be another state of existence for man, as I feel inclined
to believe there is, it will be one of happiness, to compensate for
the sorrows and miseries which are endured in this."

"But suppose others have been enabled to perform this act of coming
to Jesus Christ; and suppose, by performing it, they have entered
into the actual possession of peace and joy in believing, then I
think you must admit that the contingency on which the proferred
blessing of salvation is suspended, comes within the capabilities of
the human mind, and what others have done _you might have done, and
yet may live to do_. By your permission I will give you a paragraph,
as it bears so closely on the subject of our conversation, which
one of the most distinguished men of the present age addressed to
a philosophical friend. The writer had been for years a believer
in the Divine origin of the Christian faith, but up to this period
in his moral history, it was to him a system of abstract truths,
which made no approaches to his heart, to engage his affections,
or to influence his will. But by a succession of impulses and
impressions, and new discoveries of his inner spirit, he began to
feel restless--some degree of alarm, in fact, that he stood in need
of a Saviour; and by reading the Bible with close attention, he
found that Jesus Christ, who up to this time had moved in dim vision
before his imagination, as an ideal or a mere historical being, was
a living being, and just such a living being as he needed--one who
could save him from his fears, and who alone could save him. The
crisis in his moral history now arrived, and he says: '_I sicken at
my own imperfect preparations. I take one decisive and immediate
step, and resign my all to the sufficiency of my Saviour_. _I plead
his own promise, that him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast
out. I come to him with my heart, such as it is, and I pray that the
operation of his Spirit, and the power of his sanctifying faith,
would make it such as it should be._' This is the experience and
testimony of Dr. Chalmers, who tells us that after he thus believed
and trusted in Christ, he had 'joyful moments;' he walked with God,
living in the habitual expectation of eternal life."

"If, Sir, I now entertained the same belief in the truthfulness
of the Bible which I once entertained, and which, without doubt,
Dr. Chalmers entertained when he wrote to his friend the paragraph
which you have just given to me, I should feel strongly inclined
to attribute the predominancy of fear and dread over hope and
peace, under which I ceaselessly suffered, to some defective view
of revealed truth, or to some shortcoming in the mysterious act
of mental obedience to a Divine requisition; but, to be candid, I
cannot now look on the Bible with that degree of reverence I once
did, and for many grave reasons. I have detected in it so many
palpable errors, and so many irreconcilable discrepancies, that I
cannot now receive it as a genuine and authentic revelation of the
Deity."

"But neither errors nor discrepancies have ever been considered,
by fair and impartial critics, as decisive evidence against the
genuineness or authenticity of an ancient book; as errors, by
careful collation, may be corrected, and discrepancies adjusted, as
our knowledge becomes more accurate and extended. And this has been
done in reference to the Bible, by many whose learning and integrity
stamp a sterling worth on the result of their labours."

"I know, Sir, many men of learning, of taste, and of dogged honesty,
who are staunch believers in the Bible, and candour compels me to
admit that they have, to their own satisfaction, corrected the
errors and harmonized the discrepancies which stagger my faith; and,
perhaps, if I were to adopt the same process of labour, I might be
equally successful; but I do not now see the necessity of it. I have
arrived at a point of discovery which yields me as much satisfaction
as you can feel in the discoveries which the Bible makes to you. I
can feel, without such auxiliary aid, a calm repose in the sympathy
of God with individual man, and a delight in meditating on his
grandeur and his goodness, which, I think, cannot be surpassed by
any emotion which the strongest faith in the promises of the Bible
can inspire."

"But, Sir, how can you know that he feels sympathy for individual
man, unless he tells you so?"

"I believe he does."

"But on what evidence do you base your belief? Because, to believe
without evidence, would be as absurd as to withhold belief from
preponderating evidence would be reprehensible."

"I infer it, from the very obvious marks of _benevolent design_
which are apparent through the whole range of creation."

"I will not dispute this point; but permit me to ask you whether,
in your belief, his sympathy is a species of refined sentimental
emotion for his own gratification, or a practical manifestation of
sustaining and consoling influence; and whether he sympathizes with
_every individual man_ who needs his sympathy, _or only a select
portion_ of the great family of suffering humanity?"

"Before I reply to your questions, may I ask if you have any doubt
on the question of his sympathy for individual man?"

"I have no doubt on the question of his sympathy and loving-kindness
in behalf of those who confide in him, and who love him, because
my Bible tells me so; but there is an ambiguity in your form
of expression, which, in my judgment, involves a self-evident
contradiction, and this is why I have asked for a clear
explanation--ambiguity in reasoning being something like a sudden
eclipse, which wraps everything in total darkness."

"In my theory, Sir, there is no selection--nothing like that
undercurrent of partiality which runs through the Bible; all are
treated alike, standing on the same level; and hence my expression,
he sympathizes with individual man, means _every man_."

"And you believe this, without his telling you that he does cherish
a _practical_ sympathy for every man."

"I infer it, Sir, and from what I consider an infallible data--the
obvious marks of benevolent design, which I can trace through the
whole range of the visible creation."

"I admit your data, but object to your inference, because uniform
experience decides the fact that all men do not stand on the same
level, nor are they treated alike; for we cannot look in any
direction without seeing inequality. I am not going, Sir, to inquire
into the causes of this inequality of rank, of personal and of
social condition, which is so obviously apparent, as that would
raise many questions which we should not have time to discuss, but
simply to notice the fact of inequality, which your proposition
virtually denies. Look, for example, at yon princely mansion,
and then think of the cottage where we first met. Compare the
athletic frame of its wealthy occupier and his hale appearance,
with an emaciated human being, whose life is pining away under a
prolonged disease. Are all treated alike, and do all stand on the
same level, under his administrative providence? No, Sir, there are
towering mountains, rich in golden ore, and desert wastes, where
the mower filleth not his hand, nor he that bindeth sheaves his
bosom. And if, Sir, he sympathizes with every man, in the sense
which we attach to the term, it must be sentimental; facts prove
that it is not practical--the mere sympathy of the humane judge
for prisoners, when leaving the dock under the sentence of death,
or that of the tender-hearted physician in a ward of incurables.
Go into an hospital, a prison, a poor-house, or a cottage, where
its inmate is dying under prolonged and acute disease; visit the
habitation of a broken-down tradesman, whose children are crying
for food, while he has none to give them; pass on to the field of
battle, after the work of slaughter is over, and mingle amongst the
wounded; or go on board the slave ship, and look into her hold, as
she moves through the middle passage, between the land of freedom
and the land of perpetual bondage; and what _practical_ proof will
you find, in any of these retreats of suffering humanity, that
GOD SYMPATHIZES WITH EVERY MAN? You talk of the discrepancies of
the Bible, and argue that they are a proof that it comes not from
God. But what a terribly perplexing and appalling discrepancy do
you open up between his character as a benevolent being, and his
administrative providence? Follow out your course of reasoning, and
then, to act consistently, you must become an atheist, and compelled
to admit into your creed not only improbabilities, but absolute
impossibilities."

"Well, I will admit that when we come into real, practical life, we
are compelled to modify, if not to give up as indefensible, some
of our speculative opinions. In fact, the issue of every inquiry,
when fearlessly pursued, is uncertainty--painful, distracting
uncertainty--and man becomes the sport, if not the victim, of his
own speculations and investigations."

"Yes, Sir, when he will not condescend to be taught of God. If
we admit the inspiration, and consequent authority of the Bible,
we have an infallible teacher on all questions relating to our
responsibilities and our final destiny, and the mind settles down
into a state of quietude, and feels secure; but if we reject its
inspiration and authority as a sham, or a dogma of superstition,
we go adrift on the wide expanse of absolute uncertainty, and are
left to perish, when, and where, and how we know not, till after the
terrible catastrophe has occurred."

There was now a pause in our discussion; and within the space of
a few minutes, a little dark cloud, like that which was seen by
the prophet's servants from the heights of Carmel, overspread the
heavens, and we were compelled to look for a place of refuge from
the storm which was coming.

"I am going to see a poor woman, who lives in yon cottage; perhaps
you will not object to accompany me; we shall find shelter there."

"Most willingly, and if she be a deserving object, I shall feel most
happy to contribute a mite for her relief; _for your sake, Sir_."

"I thank you. Sir, for the personal compliment; and I doubt not but
she will be thankful for your charitable donation, for she is very
poor."

"To be candid, Sir, I like practical sympathy better than
sentimental; the one is a reality, the other a sham or a mawkish
emotion, little less than a self-compliment to a refined but useless
sensibility--something which excites the sentimentalism of a
drawing-room, when we are looking on the print of an hospital or the
wreck of a vessel hanging on the wall, but which gives no relief to
a rescued sailor, or a discharged incurable."

The poor inmate (Mrs. Allen) was seated in her chair, wrapped in
flannel, and supported by pillows, her appearance plainly indicating
that she was near death. She smiled on seeing me, but on seeing the
stranger she became a little disconcerted, yet, with polite ease,
she moved her hands towards two chairs, and said, "Gentlemen, be
seated."

"You appear," said Mr. Tennent, "very ill."

"Yes, Sir, but I believe my life of suffering will soon end, and
then all will be well--_and for ever_."

"I suppose you hope to go to heaven when you die?"

"I have no doubt of it, Sir."

"But as your Bible speaks of hell and eternal misery, don't you
sometimes fear going there when you die?"

"I did once, Sir."

"And why not now?"

"Because my dear Saviour says, 'Come unto me, and I will give you
rest.' I have come to him, and do come to him daily and hourly,
and he has fulfilled his promise, and given me rest of soul, as an
earnest of everlasting rest, and peace, and joy."

"Then you have no fear in prospect of going into the great invisible
world."

"No, Sir; and I long for the hour to come when I shall depart and
be with Christ. I saw him in the visions of the night, when deep
sleep had fallen upon me, and he appeared in glory, as when he was
transfigured on Tabor."

"Do you place much dependence on dreams?"

"I place dependence on nothing, Sir, but the exceeding great and
precious promises of my Bible; but it is delightsome to have, in
the visions of the night, the re-appearance of day-thoughts and
meditations; it is often then, from some cause which I cannot
explain, they are clothed in a more visible and substantial form."

"Now, Mrs. Allen, one more question, and I have done. Do you think
it possible for any argument to convince you that Jesus Christ is
not a real being, only an imaginary one?"

"Do you, Sir, think it possible for any argument to convince you
that you are not a real being, or that we are not all real beings,
only imaginary ones. The one thing is just about as likely to be
done as the other, and just about as easy."

I read part of the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, making
a few remarks on what I read, and then went to pray with her, Mr.
Tennent, from a sense of politeness, if not from a superior reason,
kneeling with me before the throne of mercy. As the storm was now
abated, and the evening far spent, we left her; but, on shaking
hands with her, Mr. Tennent gave her a sovereign.

We walked away in silence, but at length he said, "Well, Sir, if
your religion be, what unbelievers say it is, an invention, it is
a very soothing and inspiring one. On such an occasion as this we
cannot help wishing it to be real, even if we can't believe it to be
so."

"You see, Sir, it answers all the purposes of a reality at the great
crisis in the history of human life."

When we came to the cross-road where we were to leave each other, he
said, "Do you, Sir, remain at Fairmount much longer?"

"Yes, Sir, for some weeks."

"I should like another interview, if I may be permitted to solicit
such a favour."

We engaged to meet on the following Saturday evening, but we were
prevented. Towards the latter end of the ensuing week, I received
the subjoined note from him, which was brought by Captain Dunlop's
gardener, who informed us that his master was just dead:--

"DEAR SIR,--Before you receive this, I shall have left. What a
contrast have I witnessed between the cottage and the mansion! What
I have _seen_ and _heard_ during this visit will never pass from
my memory. If I could believe in the efficacy of prayer, I should
say, _pray for me_. We may never meet again, but should the Bible
ever be in later life as precious to me as it was before infidelity
corrupted my heart, you shall hear from me.--Yours faithfully,

  "GEORGE TENNENT."

We had heard of the Captain's illness, at whose mansion Mr. Tennent
had been on a visit; but the announcement of his death startled and
depressed us.

"Why, gardener, your master's death has been very sudden."

"Yes, Sir, he wasn't ill more than five days."

"What was the nature of his disease?"

"Inflammation of the bowels, so I heard my wife say."

"Did any clergyman visit him during his illness?"

"No, Sir, no one was with him but my wife, he was mainly fond of
her, and she nursed him, and gave him his physic, and didn't leave
him, night or day, till he left us all for t'other world."

"I believe, gardener, he was an infidel, and did not believe in the
existence of another world."

"It happened to him, Sir, as it has happened to others before him;
when death got near him his infidelity forsook him, and then his
belief of another world was as strong as the apostle Paul's, so I
heard my wife say."

"Do you know how he felt in the prospect of dying?"

"I heard my wife say it was a dismal scene. She trembled at night
when she was left by herself with him."

"Do you know if Mr. Tennent saw him during his illness?"

"I heard my wife say that he saw him once, and they had high words."

"You don't mean they quarrelled."

"Why, no, Sir, not exactly that, but I heard my wife say that when
Mr. Tennent went into his room one morning, just after breakfast,
master said to him, _you see, Tennent, what you and your infidelity
has done for me_. _I shall go down in this storm, and be lost._ Mr.
Tennent said something in reply, so I heard my wife say, but I can't
mind what, for I have been in a power of trouble since master's
death, for he was a good master to me. He never went into the room
after that morning, so I heard my wife say."

"Do you know if he had any hope of salvation before he died?"

"No, Sir, I don't think he had. I heard my wife say that master said
next to nothing all along through his sickness, but that one awful
saying, _I shall go down in this storm, and be lost_. He said that,
Sir, so I heard my wife say, just as he was a-dying. My wife is in
sore trouble about master's soul, for he was a good master to her. I
tell you what, Sir, this infidelity is a bad thing. It makes people
bold in wickedness and contempt of God when they are in health,
but their courage leaves them when death comes. They are desperate
cowards then."

"Well, gardener, I hope it will be a warning to you."

"I hope, Sir, you don't think that I be an infidel. No, Sir, I love
my Bible, and so does my wife. An infidel! no, Sir; and I often
told master he would repent of it some day. I can't, Sir, get the
terrible words out of my ears--I shall go down in this storm, and
be lost. In that storm master did go down. Good night, Sir; it's too
awful to think about."

The funeral was conducted with great pomp; and when passing the
gardener's cottage some days afterwards, I stepped in and saw his
wife, who was in mourning for her late master. After a few leading
inquiries, I got her to tell me what passed when Mr. Tennent went to
see his dying friend.

"I don't mind all, Sir, but master said to him, you see Tennent,
what you and your infidelity has done for me. He then said something
about praying to Jesus Christ to save him, when master said to him,
why, how can I do that, when you have taught me to reject Him as an
impostor? I loved my Bible till I knew you; you made me ridicule it.
Mr. Tennent then went out of the room in anger, and never came back.
I felt for my poor master. It was very sad to see him go out of one
world into another, and hear him say, just as he was going, I shall
go down in this storm, and be lost. I have had no sound sleep since.
I can't get the frightful words out of my ears. I am always dreaming
about a boat turned over in a fearful storm, and master sinking in
the great lake."



THE BIBLE PRECIOUS.


Some few years after my interview with Mr. Tennent, and when its
vivid impressions had nearly faded from my recollection, I received
the following letter, which I read with intense delight:--

"MY DEAR SIR,--It is possible that you may have forgotten me long
since; but a slight reference to the remarkable incidents connected
with our interview, will probably bring me to your remembrance. We
met on a Saturday evening, in a woodman's cottage, at Broadhurst;
we afterwards knelt together in the cottage of a poor woman, who,
doubtless, has passed into a happier world long ere now. We parted
under an arrangement to meet again; but the sudden illness and death
of my old friend, Captain Dunlop, with whom I was then staying,
compelled me to leave his house rather abruptly. In a note which
I sent to you I remember saying, that if the Bible should ever be
again as precious to me as it once was, you should hear from me. And
now I redeem my pledge, which you will be kind enough to accept as
my apology for obtruding this letter upon you.

"When we met in the woodman's cottage I was a proud sceptic,
looking with haughty disdain and contempt on every one, illiterate
or intelligent, who professed a belief in the authority of the
Bible. But what I heard and saw that never-to-be-forgotten Saturday
evening, and subsequently in the death chamber of my old friend, was
like the shock of an earthquake; it shook my sceptical opinions from
their foundation, and so scattered them, that I never afterwards
could gather them up, nor did I ever make an effort or feel an
inclination so to do. The sweet calm of the poor woman's cottage,
when placed in contrast with the terrific storm of the mansion--the
assurance of the poor woman that she was going to heaven, and the
equally strong assurance of my old friend, Captain Dunlop, that he
was going to hell--were so strongly imprinted on my imagination,
that they followed me day and night. I grew sick of life, and more
than once was strongly tempted to hasten on a doom which I thought
inevitable, and which at times I longed to have decided and settled
for ever. I dared not enter a church; the sight of a Bible had the
same effect on my nervous sensibility which we may suppose the
re-appearance of a murdered man would have on the living monster
who took away his life; and when in company, if religion became the
subject of discussion, I felt interdicted from taking any part,
either for or against it. This painful state of mind continued
for more than two years; there was at times a lull in the storm of
anguish; but after a while it came back with still greater fury,
and, like my departed friend, I often said, 'Yes! I shall be a
wreck, and lost.'

[Illustration: MR. TENNENT AND THE TRACT SELLER.

Vol. i. p. 151.]

"But God, who is rich in mercy, whose eye is pity, and whose arm is
power (to quote your own expression, which I admired for its beauty
when you uttered it), in an unlooked for moment, and in a strange
place, brought about a wonderful change, by renewing me, I trust,
in the spirit of my mind, and bringing me again to say, 'Precious
Bible, what a treasure!'

"The means which he employed to effect this wondrous revolution
in my opinions and in my heart were very simple, but they were
effectual: he chose to let me see and feel that the work was his own
work. Such was the restlessness of my mind, that I was compelled
to keep perpetually moving about, that by seeing various sights,
and going into fresh society, I might be diverted from the gloomy
terror of my own thoughts, and the dread of what was to come. I
spent two years on the continent, but returned to England last
spring the same man as when I left it--with this difference, that I
seemed nearer the verge of absolute despair. After spending a few
weeks in London, and visiting many places in South Wales, I went to
Bristol, and then to Bath, and from Bath to Ryde, in the Isle of
Wight, where I took lodgings, making up my mind to stay there during
the summer. When returning one evening from Newport, I met a lad
with a small basket, who asked me to buy a little book, telling me,
as an inducement, that he had been walking about all day long, and
had not got enough money to buy a supper for his poor old mother.
His doleful tale touched my heart, and I gave him some relief, but
said, 'Keep your books, lad, they may be money to you.' We both
passed on, but when at some distance from each other, I thought,
perhaps he has in his basket something that would amuse me. I turned
and hailed him, and he ran back. On examining his basket I found
a largish lot of religious tracts; I took two, paid him for them,
put them into my pocket, and went home. I was so knocked up by my
long walk that I was soon in bed and asleep, and the tracts were
not thought of. The next evening, when sitting on a large stone
on the beach, looking at the ships sailing and at anchor, at the
varied movements of the sea-gulls, and the gentle ebbing of the
tide, I felt a momentary elation of spirit, such as I had not felt
for years; it was something like the sudden return of an old friend
after years of absence. I will not, Sir, trouble you by recounting
the thoughts that passed through my mind in this elysian reverie,
but one thought came and went so often, that it became the master
thought of this delightful mood of thinking. 'Yes,' thought I, 'man
has a capacity for happiness, why, then, is he not happy? Why am _I_
not happy? and why do I not enjoy life when I possess so amply the
means of enjoying it? What can be the reason why I am so cast down
and wretched?' On putting my hand into my pocket to get my knife, I
felt the tracts I had put there when I bought them, and I took them
out. Their titles, _Covey_[4] and _Poor Joseph_, had caught my eye
when I saw them in the lad's basket, and I was induced to select
them, imagining they narrated some interesting tale.

  [4] See note, p. 58.

"I read the account of Covey, but his daring courage when going
into battle, which forced him to risk disobedience to orders rather
than skulk from the advancing foe, made a stronger impression on my
imagination than his after conversion did on my heart. It carried
me back also to the scenes which my old friend, Captain Dunlop, had
often pictured to me, of his hairbreadth escapes from danger; and
then his last words recurred to my memory with terrible force--'Mr.
Tennent, I am a wreck, and lost.' I put the tracts again into my
pocket, as I thought, and sat in terrible and depressing cogitations
for a long time; but providentially I had put back only one of them;
the other had fallen on the ground, and a slight breeze blew it just
under the notice of my eye. I took it, and read the title--_Poor
Joseph; an Authentic Narrative_.[5]

  [5] A poor, half-witted man, named Joseph, whose employment was to
  go on errands and carry parcels, passing through London streets one
  day, heard psalm-singing in the house of God; he went into it; it
  was Dr. Calamy's church, St. Mary's, Aldermanbury. The preacher read
  his text from 1 Tim. i. 15--"This is a faithful saying, and worthy
  of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save
  sinners, of whom I am chief." From this he preached, in the clearest
  manner, the ancient and apostolic gospel, and Joseph, in rags,
  gazing with astonishment, never took his eyes from the preacher, but
  drank in with eagerness all he said, and trudging homeward, he was
  heard thus muttering to himself, "Joseph never heard this before!
  Christ Jesus, the God who made all things, came into the world to
  save sinners like Joseph; and this is true, and it is a 'faithful
  saying!'" Not long after this Joseph was seized with a fever,
  and was dangerously ill. As he tossed upon his bed, his constant
  language was, "Joseph is the chief of sinners, but Jesus Christ came
  into the world to save sinners, and Joseph loves him for this." His
  neighbours who came to see him wondered on hearing him always dwell
  on this, and only this.

  One man, finding out where he heard this sermon, went and asked
  Dr. Calamy to come and visit him. He came, but Joseph was now very
  weak, and had not spoken for some time, and though told of the
  doctor's arrival, he took no notice of him; but when the doctor
  began to speak to him, as soon as he heard the sound of his voice
  he instantly sprang upon his elbows, and seizing him by his hands,
  exclaimed, as loud as he could with his now feeble and trembling
  voice, "O Sir! you are the friend of the Lord Jesus, whom I heard
  speak so well of him. Joseph is the chief of sinners, but it is a
  faithful saying, that Jesus Christ, the God who made all things,
  came into the world to save sinners, and why not Joseph? O, pray to
  that Jesus for me; pray that he may save me; tell him that Joseph
  thinks that he loves him for coming into the world to save such
  sinners as Joseph." The doctor prayed; when he concluded, Joseph
  thanked him most kindly; but his exertions in talking had been too
  much for him, so that he shortly afterwards expired.

"On any other occasion I should have doubted the truthfulness of
the narrative, and should have ridiculed it as a tale got up for
dramatic effect. But I did not do so now. The sentiments of the tale
came with such force, that a flood of tears bore testimony to its
wondrous effect on my proud spirit, and I was now deeply humbled and
abased before Him whose eye is pity and whose arm is power.

"Returning to my lodgings I bought a Bible, now no longer an object
of scornful contempt, but of veneration and love, and sat down to
read it with as much eagerness of soul as a disconsolate child in a
distant country would open an unexpected letter from his father. I
am not ashamed to confess to you that I shed many tears that night,
as the Bible lay on the table before me; tears of contrition, when
recalling to my remembrance some of my reproachful sayings against
it; and tears of gratitude to Jesus Christ, the friend of sinners,
for causing me once more to revere and love my Bible. For some time
I was fearfully anxious lest the newly-enkindled emotions of my
heart should die out, and that I should again be left to go back
into my old practices of evil, and possibly re-occupy the seat of
the scorner. I therefore resolved to let time test the genuineness
of the great change before I said anything to any one about it. Time
has done this; and you, Sir, are the only person to whom I have
made the disclosure; and I have no doubt but you will rejoice to
hear from me a simple statement of what the Lord has done for me,
and how he has had compassion on me. We may meet again; and if we
should, we shall meet as fellow-believers in the precious Bible, and
in the Saviour it reveals to us. Last week I sent a family Bible
to the woodman, and a small Bible to each of his children, simply
telling him that it was a present from one who once attempted to
sap his faith in the divine authority of the Bible, but who now
venerates and loves it as God's best gift to man.--I remain, yours
respectfully,

  "GEORGE TENNENT."



THE FAMILY OF THE ROSCOES.


Mr. Roscoe was the son of an eminent London citizen, who, by his
successful speculations in trade, had risen from indigence to the
possession of great wealth. He had two brothers and one sister. His
eldest brother took to his father's business, his youngest entered
the church, and his sister married a country gentleman of fortune
and respectability. He was originally designed for the law; but,
after spending a few years with an eminent solicitor, he abandoned
the profession, and devoted himself to a life of pleasure. After
years of wandering from one place to another, he settled in the
neighbourhood of the village of Aston, where he built a spacious
mansion, as elegant within as its external appearance was imposing.
Soon after its completion he married an amiable and intelligent
lady, of a small fortune, but of great prudence. For some time they
lived in the enjoyment of domestic peace; and while Mr. Roscoe
gained reputation as a man of intelligence and of taste, Mrs. Roscoe
was universally esteemed for her affability and benevolence. Years
passed along--they had several children, but all died in infancy.
These successive bereavements had such a depressing effect on Mrs.
Roscoe, that solitude became oppressive, and society aggravated her
grief, and the shades of melancholy were gathering thick around
her; yet she was comforted under her sufferings by the sympathy and
affection of a fond and endeared husband.

Time, which had covered the grave of her children with verdure,
began to close up the wounds of her heart; but, when permitted to
enjoy the anticipations of becoming once more a mother, she was
doomed to witness the growing indifference of her husband towards
herself. Her other trials depressed her, but this overwhelmed her.
Her affection still glowed pure and ardent; and though she long
resisted every unfavourable impression, and redoubled her efforts to
please, and to render his home attractive, yet she saw her happiness
a wreck, and found herself bereft of all the endearments of life.

This change in Mr. Roscoe was produced by his intimacy with Sir
Henry Wilmot, of Cleveland Hall. Sir Henry was the only son of an
eminently pious mother, who died when he was seven years of age;
he was thus left entirely to the care of his father, a man of
superior mental attainments, but of gay and dissipated habits, and
a free thinker on theological questions. When young he resisted the
contagion of evil by which he was surrounded; but having finished
his education, which was not favourable to the growth of religious
sentiments, he paid a visit to the continent, and there he became
thoroughly corrupted. On the decease of his father, he returned to
take possession of the family inheritance; and brought with him
all the loose opinions and dangerous principles of those with whom
he had associated. Being a man of elegant manners, of sociable
disposition, generous and warm in his professions of friendship, who
had seen the various aspects of society, and was qualified either
to debate in argument or amuse at play, he soon acquired a powerful
ascendency over Mr. Roscoe, whom he often induced to prolong his
visits at the Hall to a late hour. The influence of evil, like the
influence of good principles, is at first imperceptible; but it is
usually found that the one corrupts more rapidly than the other
reforms. The erection of the building requires a skilful combination
of talents and materials; but it may be demolished by the rude hand
of a barbarian, who knows not how to draw an elevation, or execute a
design.

Cleveland Hall, which had been in former days the house of mercy and
of prayer, was now become the rendezvous of the vices--the seat of
licentiousness and of moral pollution;

  "There _many_ fell, to rise no more;"

and there Mr. Roscoe lost the fine bloom that once glowed on
his character; and if a sense of decency operated as a partial
restraint, yet his home and his wife were comparatively forsaken.

Mrs. Roscoe, who watched this progressive change with deep anxiety,
would occasionally solicit the company of her husband during the
tedious evenings of the winter, but rarely succeeded; for, such was
the infatuation which had seized him, that he could not be happy
away from Sir Harry. At length the hour arrived which teems with
eventful consequences to a family, and Mrs. Roscoe became the mother
of a lovely female child. At first her life appeared in imminent
danger; and when this was announced to her husband, he was deeply
affected, and sat mute in silence; but it was not the dignified
silence of the soul bowing down in submission to the will of God,
but the silence of horror-struck guilt, which dares not speak. After
waiting a considerable time, the victim of his own reflections, he
resolved at last to see his wife; but when he entered her room he
found that she had fallen into a profound sleep. As he was retiring,
the nurse threw off the covering that concealed the face of his
daughter, and the sight operated as a spell upon his passions. As he
kissed the babe, the tide of conjugal affection flowed back into his
soul, and he resolved from that hour to become once more a domestic
man. The next morning he sent a short polite note to Sir Harry,
saying that he should in future decline all intimacy.

Had he merely resolved to drop the intimacy by degrees, leaving the
Hall earlier in the evening, and going less frequently--offering
reasonable excuses for these variations, and then trivial ones--it
is more than probable that Sir Harry would have employed an extra
amount of fascinating influence to prevent a dissolution of the
connection. But by coming to a decision at once, and acting
on it--by the transmission of the note--he broke the spell of
enchantment under which he had long been held, and effected his
emancipation with comparative ease. Herein he displayed consummate
wisdom, and should be regarded as a model of imitation by any one
who feels himself entangled in a similar snare. Hesitation, combined
with a resort to cautious expedients, is far more likely to give
perpetuity to a beguiling temptation than to dissolve its charm;
whereas, a resolute determination to break away from it, followed by
some bold and decisive step, is almost sure to prove successful; the
self-conquest is then made without much difficulty, the character is
redeemed from infamy, and domestic happiness is re-established on a
solid foundation.

Mrs. Roscoe soon recovered--the life of the child was spared--her
husband became kind and attentive--and the sun of her domestic
happiness, which had gone down, returned to lighten her long
cheerless habitation. She was always a religious woman; but her
religion was restricted to opinions, and forms, and ceremonies,
which had no moral power on her mind. She had her seasons of
devotion, but she regarded her devotional exercises as a duty, not
a privilege; and read her Bible occasionally, but her reading was
generally confined to its histories, or narratives, or parables.
She regularly attended her church, and repeated the responses of
its Liturgy with great solemnity, but she never conceived that the
essence of religion consists in the renovation of the soul. She
was amiable and benevolent, discharged the relative duties of life
with strict honour and punctuality, and threw over the path of her
visible history a lustre which all admired; and feeling satisfied
with her personal goodness, she very naturally concluded that
God required nothing more. To her the scheme of salvation, which
requires repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
was not less offensive than to the avowed unbeliever; and though she
had more liberality than her husband, yet she was equally severe
in her remarks on those whose piety led them to oppose the customs
of the world, and devote themselves to the Redeemer. Her formalism
was both rigid and acrimonious; and though it yielded no mental
enjoyment, yet it excited much self-complacency, inducing her to
think she was fit for heaven, without creating any intense longings
to go there.

Years passed away in the enjoyment of health, unannoyed by cares
or sorrows, till Miss Roscoe was seized with that depressing
melancholy which has been already described,[6] and which threw a
sombrous gloom over all their prospects. From this affliction she
was now recovering, and though her parents beheld with joy the
gradual return of her cheerfulness, yet her cheerfulness was of
such a serious cast that they rejoiced with trembling. As they were
sitting together one evening, when their daughter had displayed
unusual liveliness, Mr. Roscoe said, "My dear Sophia, it gives us
great pleasure to witness your pleasantry, and we hope that in a
short time you will be able to partake of the amusements in which
you once took so much delight. We have resolved to celebrate your
convalescence by giving a ball, and we hope you will lead off in
style."

  [6] See p. 129.

This communication, which was intended to raise her spirits, had a
contrary effect; and she replied, "I am conscious that you always
keep my happiness in view, but I assure you that such a mode of
celebrating my deliverance from the gloomy night of mental sadness
would ill accord with the sentiments and feelings of my mind; the
song of mirth I would exchange for the hymn of praise, and would
prefer the retirement of devout meditation to the noisy bustle and
fantastic exhibition of human vanity and folly."

"But such amusements," replied Mr. Roscoe, "used to afford you
gratification, and I do think, my Sophia, that they will contribute
very materially towards restoring that high-toned vivacity which
your spirits usually preserved."

"Yes, father, I once took great delight in such amusements, and
almost contemned the person who despised them, but my taste is
changed; and if you wish to retard the restoration of my mental
energy and vivacity, you have only to urge a compliance, which will
wound my conscience."

"This reply, my Sophia, confirms the fearful apprehensions which I
have recently entertained concerning you."

"What, my father, are these fearful apprehensions?"

"You are escaping from the gloom of a physical depression, to
be involved in a religious gloom, which will prove still more
injurious. You know that I have always inculcated religious
principles, and set you a virtuous example, and can you suppose
that I would now recommend amusements which _ought_ to wound your
conscience?"

"But _it would wound my conscience_ were I to mingle again in
the gay parties, and partake of the amusements, in which I once
delighted; and I am sure, after such an avowal, you will not press
it."

"I would not press anything on you which would give you pain, but I
fear lest the religious turn which you are now taking should lead
you either to despondency or enthusiasm."

"O my father, it is a belief that Jesus Christ died for sinners,
even the chief, that has given peace and hope to my deeply-depressed
mind. This is the theme on which I love to dwell. In comparison
with this, the charms of poetry or the discoveries of science are
insignificant and worthless."

"But, my dear, I hope you do not rank yourself among the chief of
sinners. You have always been a dutiful child, kind and attached
to those around you; the ornament of your family; your character
is free from a stain, and your moral principles are as pure as the
light of heaven; and would it not be an insult to your Maker if you
were, as is too much the fashion among our modern saints, to class
yourself with those who are too worthless to merit his regard?"

"But, my father, we may be very excellent in the sight of man,
and yet offensive in the sight of God. The Pharisees of the New
Testament are compared to 'whited sepulchres, which indeed appear
beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead men's bones, and
of all uncleanness.' I feel the comparison in relation to myself
to be just. I have discharged the relative duties of life with
some degree of propriety, and know that my character is free from
reproach; I have devoted myself to the improvement of my mind, and
held in veneration the religion on whose external ordinances I have
attended, but I have not sought for happiness in the enjoyment of
the divine favour, nor have I, till recently, either understood or
felt the power of religious principles on my heart. However, though
I may be blameless towards man, I am a sinner against God, but a
sinner hoping to be saved by grace through faith, and that faith is
not of my own originating, it is the gift of God."

"My Sophia, I never heard you talk in a strain like this before;
you appear to have taken a most gloomy view of human nature, and,
according to my judgment, you are gone off among the mysteries of
modern Calvinism, and, unless you retrace your steps, you will be
plunged into a state of depression more perplexing, because more
hopeless, than that from which you are now emerging."

"I know I never talked in this strain before, because the veil of
ignorance concealed from me the truths which I now discern with so
much clearness in the Scriptures. The apostle says, 'The natural
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned.' And I can attest, from my own experience,
the accuracy of this statement. But the eyes of my understanding
are now enlightened, and I can discern a beauty and grandeur in the
scheme of salvation which I never saw before. The Scriptures are now
the pure fountain from whence I draw the water of life. My taste
is now formed by the influence of the truth which they reveal, and
such is the altered state of my mind towards God, and the Redeemer,
and another world, that I feel as though introduced into a new
condition of being. You may imagine that this mental process will
issue in gloom and dejection, but no; I feel myself rising above the
conflicting elements of grief on which my mind has been tossed, into
the enjoyment of that 'peace which passeth all understanding.'"

"But, my Sophia, I fear that you are carried away by the flights
of your fancy, and are _now_ labouring under a delusion which will
leave you more wretched than it found you."

"But, my dear father, _suppose it be a delusion, is it not a
pleasing one_? It has delivered me from a species of melancholy,
which no other expedient could remove. But it is no delusion,
because the effect is produced by truth operating on my mind through
the medium of my judgment; and if you examine the Scriptures
you will perceive that they represent such a moral change as
indispensably necessary. Jesus Christ says that unless we are born
again we cannot see the kingdom of heaven. This new birth I once
thought was baptism by water, but I now perceive the absurdity of
such an opinion, for those who are born again are fitted for heaven;
but can we believe that all who are baptized are fitted for heaven?
There is baptism by water, which is the external sign of that moral
purification which is denominated the baptism of the Spirit. And St.
Paul says, 'If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things
are passed away, behold all things are become new.' And though some
would say that this refers expressly to the reformation which must
take place in the more abandoned and impure, yet the comprehensive
phrase which he employs (_if any man be in Christ_) demonstrates the
necessity of this change in each individual, irrespective of the
peculiar modification of his character."

"I admit that there must be a change, my Sophia, but as that must be
produced by our own reflections, it does not require these flights
of the fancy which you are now taking."

"But, my dear father, can a change so important as that which
the Scriptures describe, take place in the human soul without
affecting all its faculties and passions? The change may be sudden
or gradual, according to the sovereign will of the great agent by
whom it is produced, but when it does take place, a person cannot
be unconscious of it. It is not merely a change of opinion, but of
principle; it not only gives a distaste for the follies and vanities
of the world, but raises the affections to the unseen realities of
eternity, and transforms the whole character into a resemblance
to Jesus Christ's. Dr. Paley says, 'It is too momentous an event
ever to be forgotten. A man might as easily forget his escape from
shipwreck.'"

"I know that this change is necessary in relation to some, _but I
cannot see that it is necessary in relation to you_; and I fear that
you are perplexing your mind with a subject which, if not above your
reach, is altogether inapplicable to you."

"But, my dear father, I _feel_ the necessity of this change in
relation to myself, and it is evident that my opinion accords with
the current language of the Scriptures. Hence we read of being born
again, of passing from death unto life, of being created anew in
Christ Jesus, of being made new creatures, and _I feel that I have
undergone this change_. It is no airy notion which flutters over my
fancy; it is no superstitious impression sporting with the credulity
of my mind; it is no mysticism of opinion which dreads the light of
investigation; but a substantial fact, which I cannot doubt, and to
which I attribute, and _exclusively attribute_, my present mental
composure and felicity. Yes, I now can say I am happy."

"It gives me pleasure to hear that you are happy; and though I fear
your happiness arises from a source which will ere long dry up, yet
I will not disturb it while it lasts. Your heart, I know, is good,
and the errors into which you have now fallen will be corrected, I
have no doubt, by the mature reflections of your judgment. It is
natural for persons who have laboured under a physical depression
of spirits to be delighted by almost any object of pursuit which
first strikes their attention. Some are charmed with the gaieties of
this world, and some with imaginary conceptions of the felicities
of the next, and hence are carried away with the visions of their
own fancy; but time cools their ardour, and they ultimately live to
think and act like other people; and this, I trust, will be the case
with you."

"My errors I hope to detect, and when detected I will renounce them,
but my religious principles, I hope I shall never live either to
renounce, or compromise, or dishonour."

"I know, my dear, that you are too virtuous to dishonour, and too
independent to compromise any good principles, but I hope you will
renounce those gloomy and mystical views which you have recently
imbibed, and return to the adoption of those in which you have been
educated. A mind that is given to change becomes the sport of every
wind of doctrine, and liable to be imposed on by the sleight of men,
and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive."

"But, my dear father, you will permit to say that I am not deceived.
I have carefully examined the Scriptures, especially the New
Testament, and I am as thoroughly convinced that I have been living
in a state of total ignorance of the nature and design of the gospel
of Jesus Christ, as I am opposed to the absurd rites of Papal
superstition."

"Well, my Sophia, I perceive that you are too much enamoured with
your opinions to enter on a logical investigation of them at
present; but when the freshness of novelty is worn off, and your
mind reverts to its accustomed accuracy of perception and sobriety
of feeling, we may then do so with mutual satisfaction."

"I hope, my dear father, we shall; for I assure you that, as my
happiness is inseparably connected with yours, it is my daily prayer
that we may be made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the
saints in light."

She now withdrew to her own room.

"Sophia quite alarms me," said Mrs. Roscoe. "I fear her disorder is
taking a more fatal turn. It certainly has impaired her reason."

"She perplexes and puzzles me," said Mr. Roscoe; "no, her reason
is not impaired; it is acute and vigorous, and she is moving in a
new pathway of religious inquiry, but I cannot follow her. Some new
chapter is opening in her mental history. She talks both rationally
and incoherently. We must wait the issue, and hope for the best."



THE SOCIAL PARTY.


The day at length arrived when the Roscoes came to dine at the
villa. I had previously seen Mr. Roscoe, and had become somewhat
acquainted with his character; but there was such a peculiarity in
his manner, that I could not approach him with ease. He was affable,
yet reserved; high, yet condescending; polite, yet spoke and acted
as though conscious that he was about to engage in a disputatious
combat. The cloth was no sooner removed, than Mr. Lewellin, who had
recently attended the anniversary of the Shaftesbury Bible Society,
informed us that a medical gentleman moved one of the resolutions,
who confessed that he had been for many years an avowed infidel;
but, on application, he became a subscriber to the Bible Society:
and then he thought it proper to read the Bible, to see if it was a
proper book for circulation. After alluding to the instruction and
pleasure he had derived from its histories and its parables; from
its unique doctrines, and its pure morality; from its development
of the character of Christ, and its delineation of the human heart
and character, he concluded his speech by saying, "I am satisfied,
from what I have read, that the Bible contains a revelation of grace
and mercy from heaven. I deeply regret that I ever despised it, or
spoke against it; and I think it a duty which I owe to the Redeemer,
and to this society, thus publicly to say, that I renounce my
infidelity as the bane of human felicity, and take my Bible as my
guide to everlasting life!"

"Infidels," said Mr. Stevens, "very rarely read the Scriptures,
except to ridicule them. They take for granted that they are
the compilation of men, who have successfully palmed an absurd
system of superstition on the world, which but few have courage
enough to expose and condemn. But as the age is rapidly advancing
in knowledge, they are sanguine in their expectations. Hence,
David Hume prophesied that, at the conclusion of the last, or the
beginning of the present century, Christianity would be exterminated
from the earth. But this prediction has failed, for Christianity
is now diffusing itself with almost unprecedented rapidity through
every part of the world. Paine boasted that he had cut down every
tree in the spiritual Eden. 'Priests,' says he, 'may stick them in
the ground again, but they will never take root.' Foolish man! did
he not know that there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that
it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not
cease, 'yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth
boughs like a plant.'"

"I think," said Mr. Lewellin, "that the Bible Society is the glory
of the age and country in which we live, and if Britain, who now
stands on the highest pinnacle of fame, should ever fall from
her eminence, and become, like modern Greece, the land of moral
and political darkness and desolation, I have no doubt but the
adventurous of a distant posterity will visit her national ruins,
giving to her the tributary tear of gratitude, as the birthplace of
an institution whose benevolent design includes the whole family of
man."

"But I do not think," said Mr. Roscoe, "that the Bible should be
indiscriminately circulated. A person of education, like the medical
gentleman of whom you have been speaking, may read it, but I do not
think that it should be distributed among the ignorant and the poor,
because it is impossible for them to understand it; and if so, it
is nothing less, in my opinion, than an act of folly, or mistaken
kindness, to give it to them."

"They may not," replied Mr. Lewellin, "be able to understand every
part of the Scriptures, but I think they will be able to understand
those parts which are of great importance to be known. For example,
suppose a Sabbath-breaker was to read Ex. xx. 8, 'Remember the
Sabbath-day to keep it holy,' would he not understand it? Suppose a
thief was to read Ex. xx. 15, 'Thou shalt not steal,' would he not
understand it? Suppose a calumniator were to read Ex. xx. 16, 'Thou
shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,' would he not
understand it?"

"They would understand these preceptive parts of the Scriptures, but
I think that they would not understand the speculative parts, and
hence they would be in danger of forming wrong opinions on religious
subjects."

"But if you withhold the Scriptures from them, you give them no
chance to form right opinions."

"They should take their opinions from the clergyman of the parish in
which they live, as he is the only authorized person to teach them."

"But, if so, to what a dilemma would you reduce them. You will,
on your maxim, compel them to vary their belief according to the
ever-varying belief of the clergy. For example, you require the
people of this parish to believe implicitly what the Rev. Mr. Cole
preaches."

"Certainly I do."

"And you will require the people in the adjoining parish to believe
what the Rev. Mr. Ingleby preaches?"

"Decidedly."

"But do not these two clergymen preach different doctrines? Can they
both be right?"

"They do preach different doctrines, and I think Mr. Ingleby
assuredly wrong."

"Then there must be something wrong in your maxim, which requires
the people of a whole parish to believe error. Or let me suppose
that the Rev. Mr. Cole, the clergyman of this parish, should die,
and that he should be succeeded by a clergyman who preaches the same
doctrine as Mr. Ingleby, will you not, according to your own maxim,
be compelled, along with the rest of the parishioners, to believe
those very doctrines which you now regard as erroneous? Indeed,
if your maxim be a correct one, what security have you for the
permanent continuance of your belief?"

"I have often told Mr. Roscoe," said Mr. Stevens, "that he will
ultimately believe the same doctrines with myself, and now I
perceive there is a chance of it; for in the event of the decease or
the preferment of the Rev. Mr. Cole, the living will be presented to
an evangelical clergyman."

"Well, if that should be the case, I will break up my establishment,
and reside elsewhere."

"But this," observed Mr. Lewellin, "would be running away from your
maxim, that the people should believe, without examination, the
doctrines which their clergy preach. Indeed, your maxim is as much
opposed to _a fixed local residence as it is to a steadfast belief_,
because you do not know but as soon as you have purchased your
house, laid out your pleasure-grounds, and brought your garden to a
high state of cultivation, an evangelical clergyman may be inducted
into the living, and thus become the innocent occasion of making you
literally a pilgrim, if not a stranger on earth."

"Would you, then, leave every individual in society to interpret the
Scriptures according to his own judgment?"

"Certainly; Jesus Christ says, 'Search the Scriptures.' Now, if
one person has a right to search the Scriptures, and to form his
religious opinions from them, so has another; and if two, so have
ten; and if ten, so have all."

"Then we shall have as many different religious opinions afloat in
society as there are members; and I think it would be infinitely
better to lock up the Bible in the cloister of the Romish monks than
to circulate it."

"I grant that we shall have different religious opinions prevailing
among us, but this circumstance will be more favourable to the
religious improvement of the people than a dull uniformity. There
is no nation in Europe where there are _more_ religious sects than
in England, and there is no nation where there are _fewer_ than in
Spain; but which of the two nations is the most intelligent, which
the most powerful, and which the most free and the most religious?
National uniformity is the stagnant water where the life of
religious principle dies; but national freedom, which gives to every
man the right to think and judge for himself, is the angel of mercy,
preserving the truth in its purity amidst the conflicting elements
of diverse opinions, causing it to have a free course and to be
glorified."

"But would it not be better if we could all see alike on religious
subjects? Then there would be no disputation, and Christianity
would present to an unbeliever much stronger evidence of her divine
origin."

Mr. Lewellin replied, "If we could all see the truth with the same
clearness as the apostles saw it, and if we all felt its purifying
influence on the heart as they felt it, we should then arrive at the
highest pitch of human attainment; but this is a consummation rather
to be desired than expected. It is evident that we have not attained
this pitch of excellence; and, till we have, I think that common
justice requires that we should concede to others the right which we
claim for ourselves."

"Well, Sir, if I concede this, still I think that the different
sects should keep distinct from each other. There should be no
union, no combination; they should act apart and alone, move under
their own standard, and sleep in their own tents."

"Mr. Roscoe is now," observed Mr. Stevens, "getting to his old
objection against the Bible Society. He dislikes the union of the
different denominations of Christians in that society. He thinks
that the church has degraded herself by associating with the
Dissenters in the circulation of the Scriptures."

"So it is," said Mr. Lewellin; "what one man considers an excellence
another deems a defect. This very union is to me a most delightful
subject of contemplation; it reminds me so much of the heavenly
world, where all the redeemed mingle together in sweetest harmony,
after the jarring discords of earth have ceased to annoy and
disturb."

"But if we are distinct, let us keep distinct."

"But, Sir, we may differ on some points, and yet agree in others;
and the same reason which would keep us distinct on points of
difference, should bring us together on points of agreement. For
example, you may be most attached to the monarchical branch of
our constitution, Mr. Stevens to the aristocratical, and I to the
republican. Here we should differ, but yet we may agree to defend
it against a common foe. Now, shall our difference on these points
prevent our uniting in its defence?"

"Certainly no; he who would not unite with his countrymen in the
defence and support of the constitution, ought not to partake of the
benefits which it confers."

"I thank you, Sir, for this concession; you have fairly awarded
to me my point. Difference on some subjects ought not to prevent
a union on others. We differ on some religious subjects, but we
all profess to love the Bible, and to revere it as the standard of
truth; why, then, should we object to co-operate with each other in
circulating it through the world? The Bible Society I contemplate
as the temple of peace. When we enter we lay aside the weapons of
hostility, and mingle together as the professed disciples of Jesus
Christ; and after thus fraternizing for a common object, we retire
without having surrendered the smallest atom of the respective
opinions and practices by which we are distinguished; and I am
conscious that the intercourse will have a good moral influence over
us, by diminishing the force of our mutual jealousies, and promoting
a kind and affectionate spirit among us."

"I have often thought," said Mr. Stevens, "when I have had the
pleasure of being present at a Bible society anniversary, of the
beautiful lines which Milton represents Adam as addressing to Eve,
after they had wearied themselves with mutual accusations:--

    'But rise, let us no more contend, nor blame
    Each other, blamed enough elsewhere; but strive,
    In offices of love, how we may lighten
    Each other's burden in our share of woe.'"

"I think," said Miss Roscoe, "that the spirit of Christianity is a
spirit of universal benevolence, and I see no reason why it should
exclude any from its communion who profess to have embraced it. If
the disciples of Jesus Christ will meet at last in heaven, and lose
their sectarian designations in the more grand appellation of the
redeemed, why should they object to associate together on earth?
Surely it is no dereliction of Christian principle to take the
example of the spirits of just men made perfect as a model for our
own conduct, while we are in this imperfect state."

"I see," said Mr. Roscoe, "if the question of the Bible Society is
to be carried by numbers, that I shall be out-voted; but still,
though it may do some good, and display a kind and benevolent
spirit, yet I fear it is productive of many evils. For example, a
Dissenter gives away a Bible to a poor family, accompanied by his
own reflections; will he not, at the time he make the donation, say
something that may have a tendency to proselyte that family to his
own peculiar tenets?"

"He may, Sir; but has not the Churchman the same liberty? Hence,
on a supposition that they both aim at proselyting, their chance
of success is reciprocal; and if they both succeed, the relative
numbers of each denomination stand unaltered. But I do not think
that such a spirit actuates the great body of the members of the
Bible Society. They circulate the Scriptures without note or
comment, and leave them under the blessing of Him, who employs
the truth they reveal, as the means of enlightening the ignorant
and sanctifying the impure. To them the question of conformity or
dissent is a question of minor importance; and I can attest, as far
as my knowledge extends, that their paramount anxiety is to promote
the spiritual and eternal benefit of those to whom the donation is
given, not to augment their relative numbers."

"But I think that every Churchman ought to support the church of
which he is a member."

"And do you imagine," replied Mr. Stevens, "that the circulation of
the Scriptures without note or comment will endanger the safety of
the church? What is this but virtually acknowledging that our church
is not established on the foundation of the apostles and prophets?"

"I do not intend to insinuate that it is not supported by the
authority of the Scriptures, but still I think that if the Book of
Common Prayer be circulated with the Bible, the attachment of the
people for the church is more likely to be preserved."

"But," said Mr. Lewellin, "this will involve a concession which
probably you will not like to place on record; it is conceding that
the Bible alone will not support your church, but that it must stand
indebted to the Book of Common Prayer; a concession from which, I am
sure, my friend Mr. Stevens will dissent."

"Oh! Mr. Stevens," said Mr. Roscoe, with a smile of good-nature, "is
more than half a Dissenter already; and I often tell him that he
will soon become as zealous as the strictest of the sect. There is
a substantial proof of my assertion" (pointing to the chapel, which
was visible from the room in which we were sitting).

"Ah! friend Roscoe, I know you do not like my chapel, but I hope
that I shall see you there the next time I have a charity sermon
for Mrs. Stevens' Sunday-school. Your friend, Mr. Green, was there
the other Sunday evening, and he has called on me since to say that
he shall be happy to co-operate with me in promoting the moral
welfare of the poor people in this neighbourhood; and who knows but
your prejudices may ere long give way, and that we may all act in
concert!"

"Yes, I heard of his having been at your chapel, and I must confess
that I was astonished. Why, no man has talked more against your
irregularities than he has; but now, such is the inconstancy of
man, he is become an advocate of your opinions. But I am too old
to change, and too much attached to consistency to deviate from
the course I have followed for so many years. Even the eloquence
of Mrs. Stevens, and that eloquence I know is powerful, would fail
in producing any effect on my mind. I have many objections against
educating the children of the poor, and more against worshipping in
any other place than the Established Church, and I think that no
force of argument would be sufficiently strong to overpower them."

"There are," said Mr. Lewellin, "the objections of prejudice, and
there are the objections of reason; and though it is not always
in our power to draw the line of distinction between them, yet we
should attempt it. I lay it down as an axiom, which is founded
in the very constitution of the human mind, that a child cannot
discharge his duty till he knows what that duty is; he cannot
know it till he is taught it; and the earlier the information is
communicated, the sooner shall we secure his obedience, and the more
uniform it is likely to become. Hence the necessity and utility of
Sunday-schools."

I had hitherto sat silent, but now I related the conversation I had
had with the little boy[7] whom I accidentally met in one of my
morning rambles.

  [7] See page 43.

"The shrewd intelligence of this boy may be a solitary instance,"
said Mr. Roscoe; "but I fear that the plan will be found productive
of fatal consequences. Our poor population will grow genteel in
their habits; proud and discontented, and unwilling to discharge the
duties of their station; and by being taught to read, will become
either religious disputants or avowed infidels."

"No, this is not a solitary instance of the utility of
Sunday-schools. I can give many others." I then described the scene
which I witnessed in the woodman's cottage, narrating, at the same
time, the conversation which passed between myself and his dying
child.[8] As I was telling this tale, a tear dropped from the eye of
Miss Roscoe, and her countenance beamed with delight.

  [8] See page 105.

"Ah! how I should like to have witnessed such a scene--a little girl
languishing into life."

"Indeed, my Sophia," said Mr. Roscoe, with a tone somewhat harsh,
"I should not like for you to have been present. This artificial
excitement of the passions--this effervescence of feeling in the
bosom of a child in the near approach of death, is no recommendation
of the plan by which the effect is produced."

"Indeed, papa, I should like to have been present; it must have been
a noble sight to witness a child rising to the contemplation of a
state of future happiness; to have beheld the involuntary movements
of her soul towards the source of all blessedness; and to have heard
her speak in terms so delightful of the love of Christ, as the first
moving cause of her love to him. I have seen many sights, but this
surpasses all, possessing a radiance of glory which casts a dim
shade on every other."

These remarks, which were made with a singular emphasis of tone,
produced a powerful effect on the whole party; and though Mr. Roscoe
was evidently displeased with the sentiments which they conveyed,
yet he was delighted with the graceful vivacity of spirit with which
they were expressed.

Mrs. Roscoe, who had taken no part in the conversation, now observed
that she had no doubt but there were good and bad of all sorts, and
that she thought every person ought to be left to choose his own
religion; _only they should take care not to choose that religion
which made them miserable_. Addressing herself to Mrs. Stevens, "I
think a little religion a very good thing; and as our Maker has
given us one day out of the seven to be religious in, I think that
is quite enough; I should not like to be obliged to think and talk
about religion all the week, and I often wonder how it is that you,
who have so much of it at Fairmount, are not become weary of it
altogether!"

"Why, the reason is, we love it; and, you know, people do not grow
weary of that on which their affections are placed."

"But we are commanded 'not to be righteous over-much!'"

"We are so commanded; but we should be cautious lest we give a wrong
meaning to that expression. Do you think it possible that we can
love God too much; that we can love the Redeemer too much; that
we can be too much attached to the great principles of justice,
benevolence, or moral purity?"

"O no, certainly not; but then I think it possible for us to
think and talk so much about religion as to render ourselves
uncomfortable. Now I have heard some religious people speak with
rapture about the happiness which they expect to enjoy in heaven,
but as I know we cannot enter heaven till we leave earth, and that
we must die first, I never make that the subject of conversation,
or even reflection; for I always find that it casts a gloom over my
mind, and makes me low-spirited."

"But ought we not, Madam, to prepare for death before it comes?"

"O yes, we ought to make our peace with God, certainly; and, as he
is so merciful, he will be sure to give us time for it."

"What time did he give to Miss Walcote, who expired just as she had
left the card-table?"

"To be sure that was a frightful event; but you know she was a most
accomplished young lady, and had a good heart."

"Yes, Madam, she was amiable and accomplished; but how awful was
it to pass from such scenes of human folly to the judgment-seat of
Christ!--one moment shuffling the cards, the next listening to the
final sentence, 'Come, ye blessed,' or 'Depart, ye cursed.'"



MISS ROSCOE.


There are periods in the history of life which give birth to
events of such a peculiar order, that they not only contribute
materially to our future happiness, but exert a powerful influence
in the formation and in the complexion of our character. We are
accidentally thrown into the company of a stranger; the stranger
becomes a companion, the companion a friend; the friend is
powerfully imbued with the spirit of Christ, capable of instructing
and consoling us in seasons of perplexity and depression; and though
we may not notice the original moving cause of the interview, yet
the consequences resulting from it may be felt through life, and in
another and better world.

It was the privilege of Miss Roscoe, when labouring under her mental
depression, to find in Mrs. Stevens a friend eminently qualified
not only to impart the sympathies of friendship, but to administer
the consolations of religion. As she had passed through the same
tumultuous and darkened scene, she knew how to guide the footsteps
of another; and having "tasted that the Lord is gracious," and felt
the moral efficacy of his death, she could speak on these sacred
themes with a peculiar force of impression. Her skill in introducing
religious subjects in conversation was great, and her news were
clear and comprehensive. She minutely studied the peculiarities of
the human character; observed the times, and seasons, and forms
of its development; and while she rarely left an individual or a
company without dropping some appropriate remark, she never obtruded
her sentiments so as to make them unwelcome.

As Mrs. Stevens was walking one evening to her favourite retreat for
meditation, she saw Miss Roscoe approaching, and after exchanging
the customary salutations, the conversation turned on the subject of
religion and a future state.

"My mind," said Mrs. Stevens, "has been dwelling with more than
ordinary delight on the immortality of the soul. Immortality is the
grand prerogative of man. He lives amidst the decay of his nature,
survives his own dissolution, and lives for ever."

"How few," replied Miss Roscoe, "are impressed by this grand
subject. Here and there I meet with an individual who is alive to
the powers of the world to come; but the vast majority move onwards
to the tomb, as though that receptacle of death was to terminate
their existence. To me immortality is alternately a pleasing, and an
awful theme of meditation. There are seasons when it is invested
with a radiant brightness, which almost entrances my soul, and I am
eager to join the general assembly of the redeemed; but at other
seasons my mind recoils from the thought of dying, and I ask, in
terror--

    'Will it be morning then with me,
    Awak'd to hail his glorious light:
    Or must my doleful destiny
                  Be endless night?'"

"That the subject of immortality, preceded by dying, should present
the varying aspect of delight and of terror, is not surprising. Some
are in bondage all their life through fear of death, and others are
_occasionally_ in a state of great alarm; but this proceeds either
from the incorrectness of their views of the economy of revealed
truth, or the weakness of their faith. They look for some degree
of moral perfection in themselves, to which they never attain,
rather than to Jesus Christ, in whom they are accepted as complete;
or they hesitate to place an implicit dependence on his power and
willingness to save them, lest they should be guilty of an act of
presumption. But as the gospel is a revelation of grace to sinners,
and as we are invited in the most encouraging language to receive
it, we ought not to hesitate, or deem it presumptuous to do so. I
remember hearing our venerable minister once conclude a sermon with
this striking remark: 'Are you willing to be saved?' After a short
pause, he added, 'Then Jesus Christ is willing to save you. You and
the Saviour are both of one mind, and who can separate you?'"

"But I fear," said Miss Roscoe, "that I have not yet felt that deep
contrition for sin which is essential to genuine repentance, and
which must precede the exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I recently read a sermon, in which the author says, that 'the
sorrow which is connected with true repentance is not only sincere,
but deep and pungent. It not only enters into the heart, but it
penetrates into its inmost recesses, and there lives and reigns. It
not only causes the tear to flow, and the breast to heave with the
bitter emotions of anguish, but it is compared to the most acute
sorrow which can pierce the human bosom; to the sorrow which chills
the heart of a parent as he mourns the loss of a son, of an only
son, of a first-born!' I know I have felt abased and humbled when
reviewing my past life; and silently adore the long-suffering of
God in bearing with me; but I am yet a stranger to that acute and
overwhelming agony of soul which, in the estimation of this writer,
is essential to genuine repentance."

"If, my dear, you have felt sorrow for sin, you need not be
distressed because you have not felt it in its most intense and
agonizing degrees. True repentance does not always burst forth
in bitter lamentations and weeping, leaving the victim of its
infliction an exile from all the comforts of life and all the
promises of mercy--doomed, in his own apprehension, to a more
awful banishment at the day of final decision; but it is often
the silent tear, and the noiseless sigh--the self-loathing of the
soul over its defects--which become daily more and more apparent,
accompanied by an humble and implicit dependence on the death and
mediation of Jesus Christ for pardon and endless life. The author
from whose beautiful sermon you have quoted a passage, remarks
towards the latter end of it, that 'heartfelt sorrow for sin is
not opposed to happiness. The tears of penitence are not tears of
unmingled bitterness. There is a joy connected with them which is
as satisfying and exalting as it is purifying and humbling. God
himself has pronounced the sorrow of the poor in spirit, blessed;
and he has not blessed it in vain. His people taste its sweetness.
Their happiest hours are those which are spent in the exercise of
penitence and faith; and while these graces are in lively exercise,
they may look on the inhabitants of heaven without envy, even
though they may long to participate of their still more elevated
enjoyments.'"

"Such a repentance I am conscious I have felt. I would not return
to my former course of life, even if it were compatible with a
religious profession; for I have lived a life of vanity, minding
earthly things; my intellectual studies were pursued to gratify
pride, which coveted the honour which comes from man; the claims
of God, on the homage and supreme affections of the heart, I have
neglected; the Redeemer I have neither loved nor honoured; I have
spurned from my presence those religious principles which require a
separation from the world, and have uniformly acted as though the
realities of an unseen world were a mere fanciful creation; but now
the delusion has vanished away, and I see with an unveiled face the
supreme importance of those truths and sources of enjoyment which in
the days of my ignorance were concealed from me; and if I have any
regret, it is not because I have discovered the illusion so soon,
but because I did not discover it sooner."

"It is recorded of one of the Roman emperors," said Mrs. Stevens,
that he wept when he saw the statue of Alexander the Great, because
Alexander had conquered the world at a period of life when he had
gained no victory. And if you, my dear, have been later than some
others in making your spiritual discoveries, and in gaining your
spiritual conquests, I hope you will now distinguish yourself by
a decision more firm, and a zeal more ardent, and redeem, for the
honour of the Saviour, the time you have withheld from his service;
and by carrying the principles of your faith to the highest possible
attainments, you will compel others to see the effects which the
grace of God produces in the human character."

On passing within sight of a cottage standing on a slight elevation,
Miss Roscoe said, "That, I believe, is Mrs. Labron's, and I greatly
admire it, it is such a beautiful specimen of Gothic architecture,
my favourite style of building, and its shrubbery and gardens are
laid out and planted with so much taste."

"Yes, my dear, there is great external beauty, but within there is a
sad spectacle of domestic sorrow and moral disfigurement. Her eldest
daughter is rapidly fading away from life, under the withering
influence of that disease which proves fatal to thousands; and I
am informed that, to divert her attention from dying, she spends
the greater part of her time either in reading novels or playing
at cards; and though a minister of Jesus Christ, who has a slight
intimacy with the family, expostulated with her on the impropriety
of devoting herself to such amusements at such an eventful crisis,
yet it made no impression on her; and her mother said, with an
air of apathetic indifference, that as she was passionately fond
of novels and cards, she thought it would be an act of cruelty to
withhold them from her; adding that she had taken the sacrament,
and made her peace with God! and that the physician particularly
requested that no one be permitted to speak to her on religious
subjects."

"This is appalling, truly awful; and yet how many modern Christians
would give it the sanction of their decided approval. The physician
requesting that no one may be permitted to speak to her on
religious subjects! Oh, how cruel! What is this but interdicting
the visit of mercy, and dooming a sinner to pass into the eternal
world unprepared to die? I remember, at an early stage of my
late affliction, the medical attendant urged upon my parents the
necessity of keeping the Bible out of my reach, and they complied
with his request; and that holy book, which reveals life and
immortality, was kept out of my sight. Can you account for this most
astonishing part of their conduct?"

"I can tell you the reason which they assign for it. They, I have no
doubt, will say that the mind of a dying patient ought to be kept
in a state of great composure; and concluding that religion will
agitate and alarm, they forbid all reference to it."

"Poor creatures, how ignorant must they be of the nature and
tendency of pure religious truth! If a person be renewed in the
spirit of his mind, and if he feels the love of God shed abroad in
his heart, there is no subject which will have such a delightful
effect as the immediate prospect of entering heaven. I lately sat
beside the bed of a dying Christian, who, not long before her
departure, after praying in the language of Stephen, 'Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit,' repeated the following lines with an emphasis
and melody of voice which still sounds in my ear:--

    'Dissolve Thou the bond that detains
      My soul from her portion in Thee:
    O strike off these adamant chains,
      And set me eternally free.

    When that happy moment begins,
      Array'd in thy beauties I'll shine;
    Nor pierce any more with my sins
      The bosom on which I recline.'

And if a person be ignorant of the scheme of salvation which is
revealed in the Scripture, there is no subject which ought to
be pressed more upon his attention. If he have but a short time
to live, no portion of that time ought to be lost. To-day he is
here--to-morrow in eternity. For the physician to interpose, to keep
him in a state of ignorance, is an act of cruelty which no language
can adequately describe; and, notwithstanding the frivolous reasons
which he may assign for his conduct, it is an act for which he will
stand responsible at the last day."

As I was returning from a solitary walk, I accidentally met the
ladies, and on reaching the end of the grove through which we were
passing, we seated ourselves on a garden chair, which stood under
a very fine beech tree, from whence we had a distinct view of the
rectory and its church, and also of Mr. Stevens' unobtrusive chapel.

"These Dissenting chapels," I remarked, "are what may be called
ecclesiastic retreats; spiritual places of refuge for the gospel
when it is driven out of the church."

"They are spiritual Bethels," Miss Roscoe replied, "where God
unexpectedly visits his chosen ones with the manifestation of His
unseen but not unfelt presence; often astonishing and delighting
them; constraining them to exclaim, in the language of the venerable
patriarch, '_Surely the Lord is in this place_.'"

"Yes," said Mrs. Stevens, "and sometimes in these chapels He conveys
the grace of life to the spiritually dead. This reminds me of what I
should have told you before, but it escaped my memory. You know that
we have seen Mrs. Pickford at our chapel several times lately, and
last Sabbath evening, when she was passing my pew after the close
of the service, I spoke to her, expressing the pleasure I felt on
seeing her there; and inquired after the welfare of Mr. Pickford
and the family. She then very modestly, for she appears to be an
amiable woman, referred to the benefit which had resulted from your
visit, and asked me to remind you of your promise to visit them
again."

"I intend to see Mrs. Pickford in the course of the week. I know,
Madam, that you are partial to yon modest-looking chapel, but still,
though its _internal glory_ may be greater than that of the church,
yet it does not form such an imposing object in a piece of scenery."

"I admit that; but it often calls up, in a pious mind, an order of
richer and more hallowed associations, and awakens a more sublime
and elevating class of feeling. There is a church, with its Liturgy
and its white-robed priest, yet from it the gospel is cast out; but
it has taken refuge in what you call our modest-looking chapel,
where it proves to be the power of God to salvation."

"I have been accustomed," said Miss Roscoe, "to attend that church
from my childhood; the gentleman who does duty in it is a learned,
polite, and amiable man; we have often spent many pleasant evenings
together; he excels in music, and has a fine poetic taste; but I
regret to add, he has a strong aversion to evangelical truth. He
came to see me just as I was recovering from my late affliction,
and when I made some reference to the influence which reading
the Bible had over my mind, he said, 'I hope you will be on your
guard, for you are now in great danger of becoming too religious.
The mania has affected many amongst us, but I hope you have virtue
enough to resist it.' He is rather lofty in his spirit, though
very familiar when among the poor. His ideas of the dignity and
excellence of human nature are diametrically opposed to the
scriptural representation; and he asserted in the last discourse I
heard him deliver, that the charge of a universal corruption having
taken place among the members of the human family, was a gross
libel on our virtue. 'There are a few imperfect,' he said, 'yet
they have virtue enough left to atone for their defects; but the
great bulk of mankind are as perfect as their Creator ever intended
they should be.' He then adverted to the evangelical doctrines of
faith, and salvation by grace through the imputed righteousness of
Jesus Christ, which he denounced as corruptions of Christianity,
and warned the people against them, as being more pernicious to
the peace and good order of society than the principles of open
infidelity. On being asked by my father how I liked the discourse, I
replied, 'Not at all, as Mr. Cole not only opposed the Scriptures,
but the Articles of his own church;' and I then quoted the eleventh
Article, which put an end to our conversation. I have not heard him
since; for I think it wrong to sanction by my presence a style of
preaching which is subversive of the entire scheme of salvation."

"It must be painful," I observed, "to be driven from the church
by the introduction of erroneous doctrines; but it must _be more
painful to a conscientious mind to sit and hear them_. Where do you
now attend?"

"Alas! Sir, like the captives of Babylon, I am denied the privilege
of worshipping in the temple, and, like them, I sit and weep over
the desolation of Zion. But He who was a little sanctuary to them in
the season of their captivity, visits me within the retirement of
the closet, by the special manifestations of his holy presence. I
asked permission the other Sabbath to go and hear the venerable Mr.
Ingleby, but I was refused. Oh! this pierced me to the heart."

"But why did your father deny a request so reasonable?"

"He would not have done it if he had not been influenced by others;
for such is the strength of his attachment for me, and such his
devotedness to my happiness, that he has heretofore deemed no
sacrifice too great, nor any indulgence too expensive to promote my
comfort. But the Rev. Mr. Cole and some lay gentlemen have urged
him to interpose his authority, to save me from what they call the
delirium of religion. They tell him that his honour, his peace, and
his influence, are all in jeopardy; and that if I am permitted to go
on in my present course, nothing but inevitable ruin awaits me. By
such stratagems they have induced him to act a part which I know is
repugnant to the generous feelings of his nature; because he told
me, at an early stage of my hallowed impressions, that if I found
peace in religion, he would not presume to interfere."

"This trial," said Mrs. Stevens, "is not joyous, but grievous;
nevertheless, it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Though it comes through a medium which invests it with a peculiar
poignancy, and may throw a gloomy shade over all your hopes of
future comfort, yet the Redeemer says, 'My grace shall be sufficient
for thee, my strength shall be made perfect in thy weakness.' You
have only to act wisely, and with decision; keep your conscience
void of offence towards God and man; demonstrate, by the meekness
of your disposition, and your efforts to please, that your religion
is not the religion of fancy or of passion, but of principle; and
then you will rise above the visible agents who are employed in
conducting the machinery of Providence, to meditate on Him who sits
behind the cloud that conceals Him from our sight, working all
things after the counsel of His own will."

"I have known," I remarked, "some young Christians commence their
religious profession under auspicious influences. They have been
hailed by pious parents and pious friends with acclamations of joy;
the spring-time of their spiritual existence has been free from the
rude blasts of persecution; and they have advanced from stage to
stage, with unobstructed and undiverted steps. I have known others
rocked in the whirlwind, and cradled in the storm. They have had to
contend with the principalities and powers of evil in their high
places. They have been despised and rejected; and the reproaches
of men have fallen upon them. But I generally find that opposition
at the commencement of a religious profession has a beneficial
rather than an injurious tendency. It forces its principles deeper
into the mind. It consolidates them. It gives to them an energy
which ultimately rises superior to resistance; a healthful vigour,
which they rarely attain to when nourished by the fostering hand of
parental solicitude; and it brings them forth into such visible and
powerful manifestations, that even the enemies of our common faith
are compelled to feel

  'How awful goodness is!'"

"Yes, Sir," observed Mrs. Stevens, "and we should remember that
those who oppose religion, when it takes possession of an individual
mind, and exerts its influence over the visible actions of the life,
often do it ignorantly. If they knew that they were attempting
to resist the work of God in the new creation of the human soul,
they would cease their opposition. But they do not. They have no
conception of such a thing. They ridicule it as visionary; and
if a person offer to prove, by sober arguments taken from the
Scriptures, or from the Articles of our church, that such a new
creation of the soul is a reality, and that it will develope itself
precisely in that exterior form which they see exhibited in the
conduct of those whom they oppose, yet they will refuse to hear.
Their unfairness to meet the arguments in support of _the reality of
the thing_, I grant, is very censurable; but it must be attributed
to that judicial moral blindness which is one of the consequences
of our apostasy from God, and which calls for the exercise of our
forbearance and our tenderest pity. Hence, when we are reviled
for our religion, we should not revile again; when we suffer, we
should forbear to reproach; and commit our cause to Him who judgeth
righteously."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the course of the week I availed myself of the opportunity,
during the absence of my esteemed friends from the villa, to go and
take tea at Farmer Pickford's; and I was very much gratified by my
visit. During the evening he made several references to his wife's
attendance at the chapel; and at length he spoke out, by saying,
"Mr. Stevens, I think, is about one of the best of us: he is very
charitable to the poor, and so is his wife; and he is always willing
to do any body a good turn when he can; and my wife says he is a
capital preacher, but I can't think so."

"Have you ever heard him preach?"

"No, Sir, I must have an Oxford or Cambridge man. To speak my mind,
Mr. Ingleby is the preacher for me. I never went into his church
before you took lunch with us, but what you said then inclined me to
go. Why, I would rather hear one of his _sarmunts_, than I would a
score of Parson Cole's. He sends what he says _home here_," laying
his hand on his heart; "but I can get a comfortable nap when Parson
Cole is holding forth. We all go to church now on a Sunday morning,
and I seem to like it; and the youngsters like it, and so do the
sarvants. It helps to keep us in a bit better order. And wife often
tells me she was never so happy in all her life as she is now; and
that makes me feel a bit more comfortable, as I like to see smiling
faces in my homestead."

I listened with some emotions of surprise and delight while he
was running on in his tale of reformation, and, after a little
hesitation, I ventured to propose reading a chapter of the Bible,
and going to prayer.

"Ay, that's right, Sir. That puts me in mind of what I heard my
uncle say, the last time he slept here, and he was as staunch a
Churchman as ever sung a psalm tune: 'Prayer and provender are two
good things; one is good for man, and t'other for beast:' though, I
must say, we ant had much prayer here; worse luck."

I read the second chapter of Ephesians, making a few comments on it,
and then we knelt before the throne of grace; and when this domestic
service was over, I received the hearty hand-shake, and set out to
retrace my steps to Fairmount, which I reached just in time to lead
the devotions of the family; when, having committed ourselves to the
protecting care of our heavenly Father, we retired to rest.



A VILLAGE FUNERAL.


Death is a solemn subject of meditation; and it is one which
presents stronger claims on our attention than any other, because
we all _must die_. If to die were a mere cessation of being; if,
when the mind ceases to think, and the passions cease to glow; if,
when the active and the passive virtues cease to display their moral
beauty and vigour, and when the mantle of mortality falls from off
us, we live only in the recollection of surviving friends, we should
forbear passing a heavy censure on the general indifference which
is manifested towards death and dying. But we live, when dying; we
outlive death, and live for ever. Yes, life and immortality are
brought to light by the volume of inspiration. There we read that
"the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall
hear His voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto
the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the
resurrection of damnation."

Death spares neither age nor rank, talent nor piety. The king of
terrors sways the sceptre of absolute authority over all the living;
none can elude his grasp, nor resist his power. What a scene is
presented where he has achieved a conquest! The sparkling eye
become dim, the instructive lips sealed in perpetual silence; the
ear deaf alike to the voice of friendship and the song of mirth;
and the tabernacle of bliss changed into the house of mourning.
The preparations necessary for the interment keep the mind in a
state of constant agitation; but when these are all adjusted, and
the ministers of death enter to bear away the dear departed to the
distant tomb, then the sobs, and tears, and groans of agonized
survivors, proclaim the greatness of the irreparable desolation.

It was on a still summer evening, as we sat conversing together on
the immortality of the soul, and on the blessedness of the righteous
in the heavenly world, that we received intelligence of the
approaching dissolution of Mrs. Allen. Mrs. Stevens expressed a
desire to see her once more before her decease; and having accepted
my offer to accompany her, we hastened to her lonely dwelling.

[Illustration: THE HOUSE OF MOURNING.

Vol. i. page 187.]

I have often observed, in my intercourse with society, that the
benevolent affections are not cherished exclusively by any class of
its members, but glow in the breasts of all; yet they are usually
most delicate when refined by the hallowed fire of devotional
feeling. On some occasions we see in humble life the tributary tear
paid to departed worth, even where religion has not instilled her
sweetest influences; yet, in general, a degree of insensibility
is manifested which may well excite astonishment. But we felt, on
entering this cottage, that we were indeed in the house of mourning.
The husband, just returned from his hard day's labour, sat in the
window-seat, his mug of ale, and bread and cheese, untouched on the
table beside him; his hand spanned his forehead, concealing his
eyes, and his little boy stood near him, pensive and sad. No voice
spoke, no noise was heard, nor did our entrance disturb the mourner
in his musings. We felt a momentary tremor, under an apprehension
that death had already borne off his captive.

At length Mrs. Stevens said, "Well, Robert, is your wife still in
the body, or in glory?"

He started up, and, as the tear fell on his sun-burnt face, replied,
"She is still with us; but she will soon be gone. She has been
discoursing about you, Ma'am, all day; and she will be very glad to
see you again before she enters into the joy of her Lord."

We went up stairs, and it was evident, from the expression of Mrs.
Allen's countenance, that our visit gave her great delight. She
sat up in bed, supported by pillows; her face glowed with a hectic
flush, her eyes shone with radiant brightness, her voice was clear,
though not strong, and her mind discovered its usual cheerfulness
and vigour.

"Here I am, hourly expecting a change. Disease has nearly consumed
my body; but as my outward man perisheth, blessed be God my inward
man is renewed day by day. I have passed through deep waters since I
saw you, but they have not been permitted to overflow me; for when
the enemy came in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifted up a
standard against him. The contest is nearly over, the prize of my
high calling is in view, and Jesus, my beloved Saviour, will soon,
very soon, present me faultless before the presence of the Divine
glory with exceeding joy."

"I am happy," said Mrs. Stevens, "to find you in such a calm ecstasy
in anticipation of the coming crisis. You have borne a living
testimony to the truth of religion, and now you can bear a dying
testimony to its excellence."

"My living testimony has been but feeble; it has not been so decided
as it ought to have been; I dare not think of it but with regret and
self-loathing. I have been an unprofitable servant, but I look for
redemption and for acceptance to Jesus the Mediator, whose blood
cleanseth from all sin."

"But it must give you some degree of satisfaction to look back and
see the fruits of your religion, though the fruit may not have been
so rich nor so fine as you could wish."

"It gives me pleasure to know that I have been kept from falling,
and that I shall soon be permitted to bow down in the presence of my
Lord, and offer to Him some expression of my ardent gratitude for
his great goodness to me; but I can derive no satisfaction from a
review of my own conduct. I am a sinner saved by grace."

"You are now," I observed, "near the end of your course, and I
suppose you would not willingly recommence your pilgrimage on earth."

"I would, Sir, cheerfully, if my Lord were to command me, but not
otherwise. I long to be with him. To give up my dear husband and
child occasioned a hard struggle, but I have been enabled to do it;
and now I am going home, and my Father is waiting to receive me."

We committed her departing spirit to the Lord Jesus, and prayed for
her husband and her child; then returned to Fairmount, where the
news of her decease reached us within the space of an hour. After
we left she had spoken but seldom, lying with her eyes closed, but,
from the occasional motion of her lips, it was evident that she was
much engaged in prayer. At length she said, "I feel a change which I
cannot describe--is this death?--how easy it is! The king of terrors
is transformed into an angel of deliverance. I shall soon see the
King, the Lord of hosts in his beauty. I am entering the valley, but
there is no darkness. I see the shadow of death, but feel no sting."
After a short pause, during which her spirit seemed to be gathering
up its strength for the final departure, she embraced her husband
and her child for the last time; and, having solemnly commended them
to God, she reclined her head on the pillow, and expired. Precious
in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, and their
decease is often precious in the sight of men. Yes, their composure
when bidding farewell to their endeared relatives, and their
joyful anticipations when in the act of passing into the unseen
world, often produce such a powerful effect on the spectators of
their exit, that many who contemn their religious principles, have
retired from the solemn scene, saying, "Let me die the death of the
righteous, and may my last end be like his."

Mrs. Allen's long affliction had so impoverished her husband, that
he was not able to meet the expenses of her funeral; but such was
the esteem in which her character was held, that a subscription
for the purpose was immediately raised. I had often seen the city
funeral, where the simplicity of nature is sacrificed to pompous
show. The mourning coaches, the hearse decorated with plumes, and
drawn by horses clothed in black, the hireling mourners, who make
a mockery of grief--these may, by their sombrous appearance, throw
a momentary gloom over the spirits, but rarely, if ever, produce
a deep moral impression on the heart. I had now to witness, in a
village funeral, a very different scene.

The ancient custom of burying the dead in the evening, which still
lingers in some parts of the country, prevailed in this village. I
left Fairmount, in company with Mr. Stevens and Mr. Lewellin, about
five o'clock, the eighth day after her decease; and we were both
astonished and pleased by seeing Farmer Pickford on the road before
us. When we came up with him I saluted him.

"What, Farmer, are you going to the funeral?"

"Yes, Sir; my mistress wished it, as she mainly liked Mrs. Allen;
and I felt a bit inclined to pay a little respect to her memory,
because I once made sport of her religion; but I am now satisfied
that it is of the right sort."

"It is so. It gives comfort on a bed of sickness and pain, and it
fits a person to die well--to die with a full expectation of going
to heaven; that is, of going home."

"It's a main good thing, and no mistake, when we are turned out of
one home, to have another to go to."

"And that _other_ home _heaven_, which I hope, Farmer, will be your
home at last and for ever."

"The Lord grant that it may be so. I often pray a bit about it; but
my prayers are but poor prayers, worse luck. I can't pray like you."

"You can pray, like the publican, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'"

"Ay, that's the prayer for me. I can pray that prayer, and feel it
too."

Almost immediately after we had reached the cottage, a neat oak
coffin, bearing the name and age of the deceased, was brought out,
and placed on two stools in the centre walk of the garden. A band
of singers from the church choir took the lead in the procession,
then the bearers of the coffin, two and two, a lad walking on each
side with a stool, to afford an occasional resting; then the chief
mourners--the widowed husband and his little boy; some relatives,
and a few poor friends, walked behind; and many of the villagers
attended as spectators. As the bier entered the vale that divides
the two parishes, the singers sang the following hymn:--

    "Hear what the voice from heaven proclaims
       For all the pious dead;
     Sweet is the savour of their names,
       And soft their sleeping bed.

    "They die in Jesus, and are bless'd;
       How still their slumbers are!
     From suff'rings and from sins releas'd,
       And freed from ev'ry snare.

    "Far from this world of toil and strife,
       They're present with the Lord;
     The labours of their mortal life
       End in a large reward."

The effect was solemn and impressive. As soon as the hymn was sung,
the bier stood still, and the bearers rested; when the thrush
and the yellow hammer, roused by the music, poured forth their
melodious notes, as though anxious to prolong the song. The number
of spectators increased as we advanced; all were serious, some wept;
and when we turned into the lane which led up to the church, another
hymn was sung, in accents more bold, but equally melodious with the
former:--

    "O for an overcoming faith,
       To cheer my dying hours,
     To triumph o'er the monster Death,
       And all his frightful pow'rs!

    "Joyful, with all the strength I have,
       My quiv'ring lips shall sing,
     'Where is thy boasted vict'ry, Grave?
       And where the monster's sting?'

    "If sin be pardon'd, I'm secure;
       Death hath no sting beside;
     The law gives sin its damning pow'r;
       But Christ, my ransom, died.

    "Now to the God of victory
       Immortal thanks be paid,
     Who makes us conqu'rors while we die,
       Through Christ, our living Head."

The venerable rector met the procession on its entering the
burial-ground, and walked before it up the pathway leading to the
church, reading, as he walked, the thrilling words of inspiration:
"I am the resurrection and the life." The corpse was taken into the
middle aisle of the church, and placed on a raised platform; the
concourse of people attending seated themselves in the different
pews, and listened with devout seriousness to the appointed lessons
and portions of the Scripture, which Mr. Ingleby read in very
impressive tones. When he had finished, the corpse was carried
forth to the place of sepulture; where, after the rest of the
burial-service was performed, it was deposited till the morning of
the resurrection. When Robert and his little boy looked down into
the grave which had just received the remains of her they loved,
they wept, and returned to their house of mourning, cast down, yet
animated by a hope of a reunion in the celestial world.

I stole away from the crowd, which was pressing round the grave
to take the last look of the coffin, that I might indulge my
reflections in solitude. Death was the theme of my meditation.
Humiliating theme! How calculated to bring down the lofty spirit of
pride, to extinguish the flame of ambition, to hush the contentions
of discord!

A thrilling horror came over my spirit as I anticipated my own
decease. I felt attached to life, and my nature recoiled in prospect
of losing it. The lengthened sickness; the parting tear; the final
farewell; the unknown pains of dying; the solemn anticipations of an
immediate entrance into another world; the interment of my body in
the cold, damp earth; the sighs of my bereaved widow and fatherless
children; all rushed in upon my fancy. Never did the communication
which the Redeemer once made to the mourner of Bethany appear so
beautiful as at this moment: "I am the resurrection, and the life:
he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet he shall live: and
whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die." It was the
light of life and the vision of immortality bursting in upon the
empire of death; elevating my soul above the desolation around me,
to look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, "who shall change
our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,
according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all
things unto himself."

I did not leave the church-yard till the shadows of evening
reminded me of the lateness of the hour, and of my having left my
friends, who were waiting for me at the rectory. When I entered the
study, the venerable rector said, "I am happy, Sir, to see you once
more on this side the grave; I shall be more happy to see you on
the other side; but before that blessed interview can take place,
two graves must be opened, and we both must pass through the dark
valley of the shadow of death. My grave-yard is much richer than it
was when I commenced my labours in this parish; and in walking round
it, my eye catches sight of monuments which bring to my recollection
some with whom I have taken sweet counsel, and who will be, I have
no doubt, my crown of rejoicing in the presence of the Lord Jesus
Christ at his coming. They are now resting from their labours, and
I shall soon rest from mine; and then we shall appear before the
throne of God together, and serve him day and night in his temple,
and for ever."

"You uniformly speak," said Mr. Stevens, "with confidence of your
final salvation, but every disciple of Christ cannot do so; for I
have noticed, within the limited circle of my Christian fellowship,
great variation of mental feeling as the hour of departure has been
drawing near. Some I have seen in solemn rapture when anticipating
death; a sweet calmness of spirit in others; while in many I have
known hope and fear alternately prevail. And though we may possibly
trace up this varying state of feeling as death approaches, to
physical causes, yet should we not contemplate the sovereignty
of God at this crisis, who gives what portion of consolation he
pleases?"

"I think the sovereignty of God is as conspicuous in the dying
chamber as in the temple of grace; yet the Scriptures lead us to
believe that there is an ordained, if not a natural connection
between an eminently holy life and an eminently peaceful death.
Hence the apostle, after enforcing on his readers the cultivation
of the graces of the Christian character, concludes by saying,
'Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling
and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into
the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' I
have a funeral sermon, published by the Rev. Mr. Jay, which I have
read with much satisfaction, particularly the following passage:
'The confidence of the people of God generally increases as death
approaches. Hence Isaiah compares their peace to a river; for as
a river rolls deeper and wider as it hastens to the sea, so their
peace commonly becomes more solid and more extensive as they draw
near eternity. In this view the change which Dr. Goodwin experienced
was remarkable. "Is this dying?" exclaimed he, a little before he
expired. "Is this what, for so many years, I have been dreading? Oh!
how precious does the righteousness of the Saviour now appear!--He
cannot love me better than he does; and I think I cannot love him
better than I do." This is not a solitary instance. How many have
we ourselves seen who wept upon the mountains of Zion, but rejoiced
in the valley of the shadow of death; whose harps, long before
hung upon the willows, were taken down, and delightfully used in
singing the Lord's song in the most strange part of all the strange
land! We cannot always account for things as effects, which yet
we are compelled by observation and testimony to admit as facts.
But the case before us sufficiently explains itself. The love of
life having, from the will of God, no longer now any purposes to
answer, is suffered to die away. By drawing near the better country,
we feel something of its influence, as the perfumes of Arabia the
Happy are blown into the neighbouring provinces. Above all, there
is now more of the simplicity of faith. During life some degree
of legality attaches to all our performances. Doing continually
intermingles with believing; and often, insensibly to ourselves, we
are anxious to make ourselves better, to _entitle_ us to the divine
favour, or to find something in ourselves wherein to _hope_, if not
whereof to glory before God. But all this is now over. What can the
believer do when dying? What qualifications can he then acquire?
What attainments can he then propose? "Let him look back upon a
well-spent life." This is impossible. Every review which he takes
of himself is humbling. The very sins of his holy duties would
drive him to despair. One resource remains--one, only one, which is
always equal to our relief--one whose consolation is only hindered
from flowing in to us by the want of simplicity of mind; it is
looking by faith to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the
world; it is to commit implicitly the soul to him. He is able also
to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he
ever liveth to make intercession for them.'"

"I am fond of visiting the sick and the dying," said Mr. Lewellin.
"When with them, I feel the truth of religion. The terror which
seizes on the spirit of an infidel in his last moments, and the
rapture which glows in the breast of the expiring Christian, are
equally impressive and instructive. I have seen the unbeliever
tremble as the footsteps of death have been heard; his face has
turned pale through fear, or it has been beclouded by despair. I
have heard him utter the most piercing cries; send forth heavy
sighs and groans--the speechless messengers of woe; I have heard
him reproach himself in the strongest language for his folly and
his guilt, in having passed through life an enemy to the faith of
Christ; and I have seen him expire in unutterable anguish. I have
also seen the believer, calm and enraptured. I have heard the music
of his soul becoming more soft and enchanting as the vital spirit
has languished in his frame. I have listened while he has given
utterance to his holy aspirations and blissful anticipations; but I
have never heard one express any regret for his attachment to the
doctrines of the gospel. I have never known one willing to renounce
his faith, or give up his hope, in prospect of death."

"Nor I," said Mr. Ingleby; "and this circumstance is a strong
evidence in favour of the adaptation of the gospel to our moral
condition. Infidelity may contemn the faith of Christ, and hold up
its friends to scorn, but she is faithless; for when her disciples
want her comfort in their last hours, she generally leaves them as
victims whom she has fitted for destruction, that she may mingle
among the gay and the dissipated, to prepare _them_ also for the
pangs of the second death."

It was late before we left the rectory, and in passing the now
desolated cottage, we saw light in the room, and on knocking at the
door, we gained admittance. "Well, Robert," said Mr. Stevens, "you
are not yet gone to bed."

"No, Sir; if I go to bed, I don't think that I shall sleep. I
thought when my wife lay so ill, and suffered so much, that I should
be willing to give her up to the Lord, if he would take her; but now
she is gone, I feel my loss. No man can tell what death is till it
comes. I love to think of her, for she was a good wife, and a good
mother; and I should like to talk to her; but now if I go into the
room, I find that I am alone; and this chills my heart. My boy tries
to comfort me, but, poor fellow, he wants a comforter as well as I;
for he loved his mother."

"But God can support you under your trial; for he has said, 'Call
upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt
glorify me.'"

"Oh, yes; he does support me, and he has given me a spirit of
resignation to his holy will; but, Sir, nature can't help feeling."

"But I do not suppose you would recall her from heaven, even if you
were permitted."

"Why, Sir, it gives me pleasure to think that while I am mourning
here below, she is happy and at rest in heaven; but if I were
permitted to recall her, I am sure I should be tempted to do it;
for she always tried to make me happy. She is gone, never more to
return. In looking into her drawer, since we came back home, I found
these papers, which I have just been reading."

Finding they were in Mrs. Allen's writing, I afterwards borrowed
them, and having transcribed a copy of one, I here insert it. It was
dated three months before her decease:--

"I have just been favoured with a singular manifestation of the
loving-kindness of my Saviour. He has taken away the guilt of all
my sins. He has removed all my doubts. He has given me peace, and
has enabled me to resign my husband and child to his care. He will
soon take me to himself. As I have felt at times great depression,
and may in my last moments be unable to speak of his doings, I now
record in writing what will not be seen till after I have seen him.
I die a guilty and worthless sinner, depending on his death for
salvation; and can say that I die in full and certain hope of a
joyful resurrection to eternal life.

  "SARAH ALLEN.

"DEAR WIDOWED HUSBAND,--Before you see this, I shall have passed
through the valley, and joined the redeemed above. While you are
weeping I shall be rejoicing; yet, if the spirits of the glorified
are suffered to visit their earthly friends, I will often come and
hover over you and the dear motherless child. Follow me as far as I
followed Christ. Farewell, till we meet in glory.--Yours, for ever."



MISS ROSCOE WITHDRAWS FROM GAY LIFE.


As Miss Roscoe was sitting one evening with her parents, the
conversation turned in the following manner:--

"I have just received," said Mr. Roscoe, "an invitation from Mr.
Denham to attend a private ball at his house; and he hopes that you,
my dear Sophia, will accompany me and your mamma. I fear, from some
incidental remarks which you have made at different times, that such
amusements have lost their charm; but I hope that your good sense
has overcome your scruples, and that you will not hesitate to comply
with my request. I ask it as a personal favour."

"Yes, my dear," said Mrs. Roscoe, "I hope you will; your father
and I have had much conversation together on the subject, and we
both think you can do it and be very religious too. You know that
religion is not to deprive us of any enjoyments. Indeed, I think
when such religious people as we have always been indulge ourselves
in these fashionable amusements, we do more to recommend religion
than such austere professors as our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens."

To which Miss Roscoe replied: "I certainly think that religious
people ought to recommend religion by their cheerfulness and their
pleasantry, as well as by their strict moral deportment; but I do
not see how that religion, which requires us to avoid a conformity
to the vain customs of the world, can be recommended by a compliance
with them. If we do as others do, we shall be thought like them; and
I am sure, from my personal knowledge, that those who find pleasure
in balls and theatrical amusements are as averse to the religion of
the Bible as those who openly and avowedly reject it."

"My dear," said Mrs. Roscoe, "I hope you do not intend to say that
all who avail themselves of such recreations are destitute of
religion. I do not like such sweeping charges. You would condemn
some of the most amiable and virtuous persons living!"

"A person may be amiable without being religious, and virtuous,
even while he rejects as fabulous that scheme of salvation which
we admit to be true. If, then, we admit it to be true, does it not
become us, if we wish to preserve consistency, to conform ourselves
to its _preceptive_ parts? And does it not require us to become a
peculiar people? And in what can that peculiarity be manifested but
by an entire avoidance of the habits and customs which the world
sanctions? You know, mamma, that I often acted a most prominent part
in these scenes of fashionable gaiety, and that I intermingled with
the indiscriminate throng, participating in the glow of feeling
enkindled in their breast, and am, therefore, intimately familiar
with the moral qualities and the religious sentiments of those who
derive their highest gratification from such sources; and while I
would proceed with great caution in invading the province of the
heart, yet it is my decided opinion that no person who has ever
felt the transforming influence of divine truth can sanction them."

Mr. Roscoe remarked: "I grant, my Sophia, that a superior mind will
look with indifference on such frivolous amusements, and that many
who resort to them are impelled more by custom than inclination; yet
I do not perceive that they can injure the religious tone of the
mind. I have been as firm a believer in the divine origin of the
Bible, and the mission and death of our Saviour, after my return
from a ball, as before I went, though I confess my time could have
been more profitably occupied."

"And I am sure," said Mrs. Roscoe, "that I have felt as religious
at the opera as ever I felt at church; my heart has been elated
with gratitude to the Almighty for permitting us to enjoy such
recreations."

"I do not suppose, my dear father, that going to a ball or the opera
would shake your belief in the divine mission of Jesus Christ; but I
presume that you do not imagine that He would attend them if He were
on earth! and ought a disciple to go where his Lord would not go?
I grant that _that_ religion which consists only in a speculative
belief may not be injured by such amusements; but I am conscious
that they produce and nourish sentiments and feelings which are
not only unconsonant, but directly opposed to the spirit of vital
Christianity. I could not pass from the gaieties of a ball-room to
anticipate the happiness of heaven, nor retire, after the fatigues
of a lengthened dance, to hold spiritual communion with the Holy
One."

"But where," said Mrs. Roscoe, "is the necessity of being always
religious? Is the world to be turned into a convent, and are we all
to become either nuns or monks--forbidden to taste of any of the
pleasures of life, and doomed to perpetual fastings and prayers?
What! religion every day, and all day long! Why, my Sophia, your
remarks alarm me."

"I am sorry, my dear mamma, that I should cause you any alarm, but I
assure you that there is no occasion for it; the religion which has
given me a distaste for pleasures so ephemeral and unsatisfactory,
has opened to me sources of enjoyment of a much higher order. I do
not stoop to earth or any of its gay scenes for mental bliss, but
arise to intercourse with the Great Invisible. I no longer seek for
religious impressions amidst the forms and ceremonies of an external
devotion, but in the exercise of that faith which brings remote
objects near, and which invests those which are unseen with a more
attractive power than those which are visible. I no longer hover
in a state of uncertainty respecting my final destiny, for I enjoy
the bright beamings of that hope which is full of immortality; and
can attest that now my mental happiness is more pure, elevated, and
stable, than it was when I was a devotee to fashionable amusements."

"I am glad," said Mr. Roscoe, "to hear that you are happy; but I
must confess that it is a sort of happiness of which I can form no
idea. The Almighty is very good; he wishes to make all his creatures
happy--some in one way and some in another; we should follow where
inclination leads. Inclination is the first law of nature, which all
must obey if they wish to be happy; and I think that we ought not to
interfere with each other's propensities."

"But as by nature we are inclined to evil, ought not _such_ a
propensity to be restrained? What are the various laws of civil
society but so many proofs of the evil propensity of our nature, and
so many restraints on its indulgence?"

"I admit that the majority are wicked, and that they require the
strong arm of the law to keep them in subjection; but I cannot admit
that _all_ are corrupted by the evil principle. What models of
perfection may we select from the circle of our acquaintance!--men
of honour, of integrity, of benevolence--men in whose character all
the virtues are concentrated, and who live amidst the contagion of
the world without being injured by it--men who would scorn an act
of meanness or duplicity; who would sacrifice their ease and their
wealth to promote the general good; _who are religious without
ostentation_; and who know how to enjoy the felicity of social life
without being entangled by its snares. Are we to suppose that such
men are corrupted by evil principles, and that they are under some
fatally evil inclination?"

"You will admit, my dear father, that a community of rebels may
cultivate the social virtues among themselves, even while they live
in a state of revolt against their sovereign, and in hostility
against all who retain their loyalty?"

"Yes, my dear, certainly they may."

"Do we not read in the Scripture, that _all_ have sinned against
God--that _all_ are gone astray from their subjection to his
authority--that _all_ are become corrupt? And do we not know that
the sentence of death has passed upon _all men, because all have
sinned_? Now if, as you suppose, some have escaped the general
contagion, and are absolutely pure and virtuous, how is it that they
are involved in the same sentence of condemnation with the openly
depraved and wicked? Where is the equity of such a decision? And are
we not accustomed to say, when kneeling before the Lord our Judge,
'We have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep; we have
followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts; we have
offended against thy holy laws; we have left undone those things
which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we
ought not to have done, and there is no health in us; but thou, O
Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders?'"

"Yes, my dear Sophia; but you must remember that our excellent
Liturgy was composed to suit the moral condition of the great
majority of the people; and therefore it became necessary that such
strong language should be employed; but you cannot suppose that it
is strictly applicable to the virtuous part of the community."

"Then why do they adopt it? Why do they acknowledge, on their knees
before God, what they deny to man? Is not this a resistless proof of
the evil propensity of human nature?"

"I think not. I think it is a proof of the generous amiability of
human nature, as the virtuous part of society consent to employ
language which is not strictly applicable to themselves, out of
compassion to the more degenerated and worthless, who ought to make
such concessions, and pray in such strong terms of humiliation."

"How, then, ought the virtuous to pray, if they ought not to pray
in the strongest terms of humiliation? Shall we revive the spirit
of the ancient Pharisee, which our Lord condemned; and shall we
approach the footstool of the divine throne with his language: 'God,
I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust,
adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I
give tithes of all that I possess?' In this prayer there is the
language of self-gratulation and the spirit of censoriousness, but
no humble confession for sin, nor any petition for mercy."

"Being a virtuous man, he had no sins to confess, and therefore did
not need to implore mercy, but he did not forget to offer thanks to
God for his virtuous endowments.

"He did not _feel_ the guilt of his sins, nor did he _feel_ the need
of mercy; but his insensibility was no proof of his innocence. The
publican was in the temple at the same time, but how different the
spirit which he discovered, and the language which he uttered: 'And
the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his
eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful
to me, a sinner!' And in the following verse we read the judgment
which Jesus Christ pronounced on the state of these two men: 'I
tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the
other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he
that humbleth himself shall be exalted.'"

"I am sorry, my dear," said Mrs. Roscoe, "that you have taken
such gloomy views of human nature; I do not think that they will
contribute to your happiness, and I very much regret that you should
ever have imbibed them. We were once happy and united, but now we
are a divided family; the introduction of this evangelical religion,
as it called, among us, has broken up our peace, and we are censured
by many of our friends for permitting you to follow your present
bias. We did hope, when the fervour subsided, you would return to
your former habits of life, but I begin to despair of this."

"The views of human nature which I have taken, dear mamma, are
scriptural, and in strict accordance with the language of the
prayers and articles of our church. If I am mistaken, I am willing
to be convinced of my error; but, on a question of such magnitude,
I can receive only the most substantial proof. You charge me
with breaking up the peace of the family; this charge possesses
a keen point, and it has deeply grieved me. My peace was broken,
and I wandered almost a forlorn object of grief, because I had no
prospect of happiness till I was led to embrace my present religious
opinions; these have acted on my wounded spirit as the rebuke of the
Saviour did on the agitated waters of Gennesaret, and now I enjoy
an internal calm; and must the restoration of peace to my mind be
regarded as the destroyer of domestic happiness?"

"Why, you know, my dear, that your views on religious subjects
differ from ours; indeed, I think them very eccentric, and we cannot
approve of them, and our friends make many remarks which are not
pleasant. Some say that you are a Methodist, some that you are a
Calvinist, and many say that you are become quite a fanatic. These
things are unpleasant, they mortify us. We think it quite a disgrace
to our family that you should have such things said about you. I
therefore hope you will consent to go with us to Mr. Denham's ball;
it is held, I assure you, principally on your account; there is to
be a large party, and all will be delighted to see you. You then
will wipe off the odium which your eccentric views have brought on
yourself and us. Your father has made a very handsome purchase for
the occasion, which he intends to present to you. You know it will
not prevent your being very religious."

"I would sacrifice much to please and gratify you, my dear mamma;
but do not press me to a compliance which I cannot yield to without
making a sacrifice of principle."

"But what principle would you sacrifice by complying with such a
request?"

"If I were to go I should feel no interest in the scene, and my
sadness would throw a gloom over the cheerfulness of others; and I
should render myself the object of satirical remark, rendered keener
than any which has yet been directed against me, as my inconsistency
would justify it; for those who are so anxious to get me among them,
well know that I must first sacrifice my religious principles before
I can consent."

"O no, my dear, they will receive you with more delight than they
would an angel; and when you get among your old friends, you will
disengage your mind from your religious meditations, which you will
find a great relief; I have no doubt you will be quite yourself
again, and that will make us all as happy as we used to be. I feel
in ecstasy in prospect of it. Do yield to our request."

"Yes, I must disengage my mind from all religious recollections
or anticipations to be happy on such an occasion; but such a
disengagement would be the entire destruction of my happiness in
this world, and the prospect of it hereafter."

"Then, must we go without you?"

"I cannot consent to go unless you insist on it; and even then I
should go with reluctance, and I fear my presence would disturb the
harmony of the evening."

"I assure you," said Mr. Roscoe, "it is with the deepest regret that
I witness the pernicious infatuation under which you are labouring.
Fitted to move in any rank of life, and to command the respect
and esteem of a large circle, who would feel proud to enjoy your
friendship and society, you seem determined to descend even to the
lowest, and gather up the fragments of a fanatical felicity among
the evangelical professors who abound among us. My peace is gone,
because yours is wrecked; and my hopes of your future respectability
are all vanished. I certainly did expect that you would comply with
my request to accompany us to Mr. Denham's, when I solicited it as
a personal favour; but I now perceive that your religion has taught
you how to refuse a parent's request; and if the first-fruits are
disobedience, what will be the issue? After all the pains that I
have bestowed on the cultivation of your mind, and the bleeding
anxiety of my heart during your protracted illness, to see you now
come forth to contemn the elegant accomplishments of social life,
and the society of those with whom you have been accustomed to
mingle with so much delight and _eclat_, is a calamity which will
bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave?"

Miss Roscoe was too much affected by this severe and unexpected
address, to make any reply; and though she endeavoured to suppress
her feelings, yet she was obliged to retire to her own room, where
a flood of tears gave her some relief. When somewhat composed,
she opened her Bible, and the following passage struck her eye:
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess
also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny
me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in
heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I come not
to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance
against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the
daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall
be they of his own household" (Matt. x. 32-36). The remarks of
her favourite commentator, Scott, strengthened her views of the
passage, and she felt more and more that it was her duty to act
consistently with her religious principles, though she might incur
the displeasure of her parents.

Soon after this conversation took place, a select party came to
spend the evening at the Roscoes'; and, after tea, the cards were
introduced as usual.

"I shall be happy," said the Rev. Mr. Cole (addressing himself to
Miss Roscoe), "to have you for a partner at whist."

"I am sorry, Sir, to deny you any request, but I cannot comply with
the one which you have just made."

"Indeed! why, we have often spent the evening in this amusing
manner, and I hope we shall spend many more."

"Yes, Sir, we have; but it is not my intention to consume any future
portion of my time in such an amusement."

"But do you think that there is any moral evil in it?"

"It has, in my opinion, _the appearance of evil_, from which _we are
commanded to abstain_."

"But of two evils is it not the wisest maxim to choose the least?
and is it not a smaller evil _to amuse ourselves at cards, than, as
is often the case at evening parties, to play at scandal and defame
the reputation of others_?"

"Unquestionably; but I presume that a wise and good man would avoid
both these evils."

"But I am not aware that any evil can arise from this amusing
exercise."

"Does it not consume that time which ought to be devoted to a more
profitable purpose? Does it not frequently give excitement to those
passions of our nature which ought to be repressed? Does it not
encourage a passion for gaming, which, we know, has involved many in
entire ruin?"

"But that is the abuse of the thing."

"Nay, Sir, I think it is the natural tendency of it."

"But are we to have no amusements because some indulge in them
to excess? Is life to pass away in a dull, monotonous routine of
duty? Are we always to live in a state of exile from the charms
and fascinations of social intercourse? Is the mind never to relax
itself amidst the diversions of polished society? Must we ever keep
up our attention to the sombrous claims of religion, and always
think, and speak, and act, as though we were treading on the verge
of an awful eternity? Indeed, I give it as my decided opinion, that
that species of religion which interdicts these amusements, cannot
claim a divine origin, because it is opposed to human happiness."

"That species of religion, as you are pleased to call it, does claim
a divine origin, and, perhaps, if you examine its claims, you will
find them attested by the spirit of the New Testament. Permit me
to ask you one question, and I am willing that your answer shall
decide the question at issue between us--Do you believe that if
Jesus Christ or any of his apostles were now present, they would
consent to pass away the hours of this evening in such an exercise
as playing a game of cards?"

"Perhaps not, but they were extraordinary persons, and their virtue
kept them from many sources of amusement from which we, who are more
frail, may very innocently draw a portion of our pleasure."

"Then you admit that it is our frailty that leads us to such
amusements, and that if _we possessed more exalted virtue_ we should
avoid them?"

"You reason excellently well, Madam, against the amusement; but
_such is the frailty_ of our nature, that I fear the passion cannot
be subdued with such a weapon."

"Perhaps not, Sir."

"Pray, Madam, what amusements would you sanction?"

"Those which would afford me pleasure on reflection, and in which I
could be engaged in my last moments."

"The apparent delight with which evangelical professors anticipate
their _last_ moments, is a tacit acknowledgment that the present are
dull and insipid."

"We anticipate our last moments, Sir, with awe, mingled with
delight, and though you may imagine that our present moments are
dull and insipid, yet, I assure you, you are mistaken. We have
our sources of happiness, but card-playing is not included in the
number."

"I cannot but think that evangelical religion has an antisocial
tendency, and would, if generally prevalent, deprive us of all our
innocent recreations."

"Evangelical religion, like the religion of the New Testament,
requires us not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed
in the renewing of our mind, and it produces a distaste for those
frivolous and pernicious amusements in which the votaries of
this world delight; but I am not aware that it has an antisocial
tendency, unless you mean by that expression, that its tendency is
to mark out the essential difference between a real Christian and
one who bears only the name."

"Why, we are all Christians, and good Christians, too; but our
Christianity does not teach us to wait the arrival of death before
we can be happy."

"Yes, Sir, there are the pleasures of sin, which we are commanded to
forsake for the recompense of reward."

"And, Madam, there are the pleasures of innocence, which are as
sweet and as sacred as the joys of angels."

"But I cannot suppose that you include card-playing among the
pleasures of innocence."

"Most certainly I do!"

"Then, do you imagine that our old friend, Mr Lock, is of the same
opinion, who in an evening was reduced from a state of affluence to
a state of poverty?"

"Why, that was an unlucky night for him, certainly; but you know we
do not play for more than we can afford to lose."

"I think, Sir, with all due deference to your judgment, that every
one who plays at this game of innocence stakes more than he can
afford to lose."

"You are, indeed, an ingenious casuist, and I wish to know how you
can prove the correctness of your assertion."

"Can you afford to lose your temper?"

"If I do lose it I can easily recover it again."

"You may, Sir, but can others?"

"If they cannot, they are to blame."

"_Then, Sir, this game of innocence is found on experiment, first,
to destroy the placidity of the temper, and then to involve its
abettors in censure._ But there is often more staked in this game
than the loss of temper."

"What is there, Madam?"

"The loss of friendship. You know that the families of the Orrs and
the Humes have never met in any party since the quarrel which took
place two years since at Brushwood House."

"Why, that was a very serious affair, certainly, but you know that
such quarrels rarely happen."

"Nay, Sir, they often happen, only friends interpose and effect a
reconciliation. But with such facts imprinted on our memory, can we
say that such a game is the game of innocence?"

"I think, Madam, you are rather too severe, for you must allow that
it often beguiles away many a languid hour."

"Which hours, Sir, ought to be spent in preparation for immortality."

"You veer, Madam, towards death, from whatever point of the compass
you set out."

"And, Sir, death is veering towards us, in whatever employments we
are engaged; but would you like to feel his fatal infliction when
seated at a card-table, or returning from a theatre?"

"Too grave; much too grave, Madam, to be pleasant."



FRESH PERPLEXITIES.


Mrs. Denham was not one of the select party that met at Mr.
Roscoe's, as she had accompanied her husband to Bath, where he was
detained longer than he expected, having some important family
matters to adjust with the executors of a deceased uncle. On the day
after her return home, when sitting quietly by herself in her little
back parlour, working away hard and fast with her knitting needles,
Miss Denham came in, took a seat by her side, and thus began:--

"Do you know, mamma, that Miss Roscoe is become so religious, that
she actually refused the Rev. Mr. Cole as a partner at cards, at Mr.
Roscoe's party, and said so many hard things against card-playing,
and brought forward so many arguments from some old Puritanical
book, that he was at times quite disconcerted?"

"Yes, my dear, and it is enough to disconcert any good Christian to
have religious subjects introduced at our convivial parties."

"O yes, mamma, exactly so. I think if we are religious on a Sunday,
it is as much as ought to be expected. Our Maker can't expect more.
Do you think he can, ma'?"

"Certainly not, my dear; if he did, we should have had two Sundays
in the week, instead of one."

"Well, ma', I really wonder how it is that Miss Roscoe has become
so religious all at once. What a pity. I suppose she must be very
unhappy."

"Yes, my dear, that you may depend on. Her parents are nearly
broken-hearted. Dear Mrs. Roscoe says that all their peace is gone;
and they really dread the consequences. She has positively refused
to attend our ball on Friday week."

"Is it possible? I wish I had known it, I would have reasoned the
point with her. I will go and see her. I think I can persuade her,
because I recollect putting aside an engagement one night last
winter to go with her to see the _Beggar's Opera_."

"Ah! my dear, when this evangelical religion, as it is called, takes
possession of a person's mind, it is no use to attempt to reason or
try persuasion--reason has nothing to do with it."

"Then, mamma, it must be a very unreasonable thing."

"Exactly so, my dear, and I hope you will avoid its snares."

"Dear mamma, I really wonder that you should consider it necessary
to give such a hint; I assure you I have no prepossessions in its
favour. Indeed, it is not my intention to trouble myself at all
about religion yet; of course, I shall go to church along with you
and papa, and take the sacrament once or twice a-year. That will do,
won't it, ma'?"

"Yes, my dear, our Maker won't desire more from such a young person
as yourself. But still it will be necessary to avoid all intercourse
with those religious people who are known to be evangelical; for the
Rev. Mr. Cole says he thinks that there is something of a bewitching
nature in it, as it is known sometimes to overcome those who have
the greatest antipathies against it."

"Why, mamma, you quite alarm me. Then no one is safe. Is it
possible for me ever to take to this evangelical religion? O, I
would rather enter a nunnery at once, and take the veil for life."

"Yes, my dear, and I would rather you should; but still I deem it
prudent to give you a hint to be on your guard; for I heard you,
a short time since, drop some expressions, when speaking of Mrs.
Stevens, which quite alarmed me."

"Indeed, mamma! I don't recollect it. I certainly think Mrs.
Stevens a most amiable lady; and though she may have rather too
much religion, yet she is very accomplished, and a most interesting
companion."

"She is amiable and accomplished, but I think her _a most dangerous
companion_."

"What! the amiable Mrs. Stevens a dangerous companion? Why, mamma,
she is a truly virtuous and lovely woman."

"She is so, my dear, and that makes her so dangerous. She is always
aiming at proselyting others to her religion, and such is the
bewitching charm of her eloquence, and such the fascination of her
manners, that she scarcely ever fails. Why, do you know, though I am
ashamed to confess it, she nearly got me over to her religion when I
was with her by myself one evening last winter."

"Dear ma', you quite surprise me. _You_ nearly made an
_Evangelical_! Did you ever tell pa' about it, and what did he say?"

"O, no, my dear, I never mentioned it before to any one; and I
should not like to have it repeated."

"I may just mention it to Mr. Ryder, as a curiosity in the economy
of life."

"No, no, I beg you won't; it will make me so much talked about, and
it will induce her to make another effort. But, as I was saying,
you really must be on your guard. You have not my fortitude and
self-possession. She is a most beguiling woman, and has so much
tact. She easily accommodates herself to the taste of her visitors,
she bribes the poor by her benevolence, fascinates the young by her
pleasantry, and entangles the thoughtless by her arguments. No one
is safe who associates with her."

"But, mamma, I do not think she would proselyte me, for I have no
predilection for religion. It is too gloomy a subject to suit my
taste. Indeed, I do not understand it; though every now and then I
am tempted to wish I did; I have at times such strange thoughts and
feelings."

"Of course, you know, my dear, it is a duty you owe the Almighty to
resist an evil temptation."

"Exactly so; but is it not odd that I should ever be tempted
to a thing for which I have no predilection, and which I don't
understand? But, ma', I am under an engagement to take tea with Mrs.
Stevens and Miss Roscoe next week--what shall I do?"

"Decline, of course, my dear."

"But the time is fixed."

"You can send a note, _and plead indisposition as an apology for
absence_."

"But would that be honourable, if I should not be indisposed?"

"You know it is fashionable."

"Yes, mamma, but I have long felt a great dislike against the
fashionable habit of sacrificing truth to expedience. I cannot do
it. I have no strong desire to become religious, but I wish to
be virtuous; and I think an inviolable regard to truth the very
foundation of virtue."

"Very true, my dear; I am pleased with your remark, it discovers a
virtuous mind; but you must not be too scrupulous. You will find
it impossible always to avoid the customs of fashionable life; for
though some of them are open to the censures of the strict moralist,
yet they have been too long established to be changed."

"But, mamma, I should think it wrong to comply with any custom
which pure morality condemns. When I was at Mr. Travers's, the
housemaid, who had been in the family seven years, and who was
greatly respected, was called up into the parlour and discharged
at a moment's warning. She wished to know the cause. Mrs. Travers
said to her, 'I have detected you in so many falsehoods, that I
cannot believe a word you say.' She took up her wages, and said,
'Who taught me to speak untruth? When I came into your service, I
came uncorrupted; I abhorred a lie, but did you not compel me to
the habit? Was I not forced to say, when you were unwilling to see
company, that you were ill, or from home; and if mistresses teach
servants to lie, ought they to be discharged when detected?'"

"How insolent! Did not Mr. Travers force her out of the house?"

"Yes, mamma, he resented the insult; but after she was gone, he
said, 'I hope the truth will always be spoken in future; for if we
compel our servants to falsify for our convenience, we ought not to
be astonished if they do so for their own.'"

"Well, my dear, with your high notions of virtue, I do not see how
you can excuse yourself from Mrs. Stevens's; but let me entreat you
to be on your guard, for we live, as the apostle says, in perilous
times. I would rather follow you to the grave than see you infected
with a religious contagion; and I am sure your papa would disown
you."

"Dear mamma, I wonder that you should harbour any suspicions. It
is not my intention to become religious yet. Indeed, if I were, my
religion must tolerate all the fashionable gaieties. You know I
am fond of cards and concerts, of balls and plays; and as for the
Bible, I assure you that I have not read it since I left school.
It is too grave to suit my taste, and so mystical that I cannot
understand it. Indeed, I have my doubts about it; particularly since
our acquaintance with the Ryders. Mr. John is quite a sceptic; he is
very clever, and his arguments are so powerful!"

"I have no wish that you should become a sceptic, my dear; it would
make you so much talked about."

"Exactly so, mamma; I know it is not fashionable for ladies to
become sceptics, but Miss Sims affects to be one, and really boasts
of it, which sadly mortifies her sister Amelia. However, I have made
up my mind to keep to the good old religion of our church; though
Mr. John Ryder said the other evening, in a large party, he expected
to make a convert of me."

"I admire your firmness. Yes, keep to the church, and you will be
sure to go to heaven when your Maker takes you out of this world!"

"You think I shall, ma'."

"To be sure, my dear. Our Maker could not object to take such a
dear lovely girl as you are to heaven, to live amongst the happy
innocents there."

"That's a beautiful thought. Sceptics don't expect to go to heaven,
do they, mamma?"

"No, my dear."

"Where will they go?"

"I don't know, and I don't think they know themselves. I once heard
your papa say, they expect death will snuff them out of existence as
we snuff out the flame of a candle."

"Do they really believe this? What a sad pity--snuffed out of
existence. I shall never forget the expression. I'll repeat it to
Mr. John Ryder the next time he calls; I wonder what he will say?"

"He will only laugh at it."

"Laugh at being snuffed out of existence! No, mamma, I will never
become a sceptic, to be snuffed out of existence. I would rather
turn an evangelical, for they, when death comes, are in ecstasy, in
anticipation of eternal life and happiness in another and better
world."

"What a loud ring, I wonder, ma', who it can be; but it does not
matter, we are dressed to receive company." The servant entered with
the cards of Miss Dorothy Brownjohn, and her sister Susan, who, of
course, had been ushered into the drawing-room.

"I am so glad to see you; do be seated, ladies. Well, this is a
pleasure I did not expect when I rose this morning, though I said
last night, when looking at the coal leaf waving on the bar of
our parlour grate, that we should have company to-day. We should
have made a call on you, as we missed you at the sacrament last
Sunday week, only I have been to Bath with Mr. Denham. We were all
prodigiously affected, as we thought you were ill."

"Oh no," said Miss Susan, "we haven't been exactly ill, but it was
all hurry and bustle with us that week, and I could not get through
my preparation reading and prayers, to fit me for the sacrament."

"I think my sister," said Miss Dorothy, "is too scrupulous, and I
tell her, that if she can't get done all the preparation reading and
prayers, the Almighty will overlook it, and so would Mr. Cole."

"Oh dear, yes, to be sure he would. Why, I had not time that week to
read a single extra prayer; we had company in the house every day
and night."

"The principal purpose of our calling on you this morning, dear Mrs.
Denham, is to ask you if you know any one who would suit us in the
capacity of a cook."

"What, are you going to part with the old cook who has been with you
so many years?"

"Oh dear, yes," said Miss Susan, "and I wish we had got rid of her
at the beginning. Since she has got infected with the rector's new
religion, she has not been the same woman she once was."

"Yes, there is an obvious difference," said Miss Dorothy, "in her
spirit, and appearance, and manners, which I cannot account for."

"Does she neglect her duties?"

"Oh no," said Miss Susan, "she does not neglect her work; if she did
I should soon be after her. She used to sing a good song, and be as
merry as a cricket; but no singing now, except some odd psalm; and
she never appears happy but when going to church, or reading her
Bible; and she is trying to get over the rest of the servants to her
religion."

"Have you given her notice to leave?"

"Oh no, not exactly. I'll tell you, dear Mrs. Denham, how it was. I
heard a whisper amongst the rest of the servants that the cook got
up before them in the morning, and sat up after them at night; and
I was determined to find it out, and the reason of it, for it did
not look well; now, did it? So one night, when all the rest were
gone to bed, I went down stairs very softly, and looked through the
keyhole, and saw her reading her Bible; and I made up an excuse
for going in; and I said to her, 'I think, cook, sleep would do you
more good at this hour than that book, sitting up wasting fire and
candle;' and she gave me such an insolent reply, that she ruffled
my temper very much. She said, 'If I thought so, Ma'am, I should be
in bed, but I like a little reading out of God's book before I go
to rest; and if I do my work to your satisfaction, as I hope I do,
I think you have no cause for complaint.' And the next morning she
actually gave notice to leave."

"And I am sorry to say," added Miss Dorothy, "that just before we
left home, the housemaid gave _me_ notice."

"Why, sister, you did not tell me that. This is all our rector's
doings. We were living as peaceably as a nestling of birds, till he
began to preach the new doctrines of the new birth, and faith, and
salvation by grace. I am sometimes tempted to wish myself in heaven,
out of the way of these domestic miseries."

"Mr. Cole, in his sermon on Sunday morning, said that this
evangelical religion is a spiritual epidemic; it spreads by the
power of sympathy, and affects all alike. It is a prodigious evil."

"That's true; we will have no more of it in _our_ family," said Miss
Dorothy, "for our next servants shall engage not to go and hear our
rector, and I will substitute the prayer-book for the Bible, for the
servants to read."

"Very proper," said Mrs. Denham, "that venerable book will do them
no harm."

"They may read that," said Miss Susan, "and welcome. It will never
make them miserable, nor keep them up late at night."

"Then, ladies, you are in want of two servants?"

"Yes," said Miss Susan, "and two who like to read the prayer-book
better than the Bible, and won't go to hear any of the evangelicals."

"Shall we see you at church next Sunday; Mr. Cole is going to preach
a charity sermon for our Sunday-school."

"What, have you a Sunday-school?"

"Yes, Mr. Cole felt compelled to set up one in self-defence, for he
found the children all going off to a school kept by some of the
evangelicals, and their parents followed them. We haven't many."

"For a Sunday-school," said Miss Dorothy, "in self-defence, there
is some excuse, otherwise I would not give it my sanction; I hope
you are very careful what you teach the children, otherwise you will
lift them up with pride, and they will not work as servants ought to
do."

"Mr. Cole won't have anything taught in the school but the Church
catechism."

"They may learn that," said Miss Susan, "and welcome; it won't do
them any harm. Yes, you may expect us on Sunday, and perhaps then,
Mrs. Denham, you may be able to tell us if you can help us to any
servant who will comply with our terms--read the prayer-book, and
not go near any of the evangelicals."



THE RELIGIOUS PARTY.


There was at Mr. Stevens's a select but not a large party. The
conversation was of a desultory nature till after tea, when Miss
Roscoe was requested to favour the company with a little music.
She seated herself at the piano, and sung the following hymn with
considerable effect:

    "O my Lord, I've often mused
       On thy wondrous love to me;
     How I have the same abused,
       Slighted, disregarded Thee!

    "To thy church and Thee a stranger;
       Pleas'd with what displeased Thee;
     Lost, yet could perceive no danger;
       Wounded, yet no wound could see.

    "But, unwearied, Thou pursu'dst me;
       Still thy calls repeated came,
     Till on Calvary's mount I view'd Thee,
       Bearing my reproach and blame.

    "Then o'erwhelmed with shame and sorrow,
       Whilst I view each pierced limb,
     Tears bedew the scourge's furrow,
       Mingling with the purple stream.

    "I no more at Mary wonder,
       Dropping tears upon the grave--
     Earnest asking all around her,
       Where is he who died to save?

    "Dying love her heart attracted,
       Soon she felt its rising pow'r;
     He who Mary thus affected,
       Bids his mourners weep no more."

"I scarcely know which to admire most," said Mrs. Stevens, "the
air or the hymn itself; there is plaintive melancholy in the music
which accords with my feelings, and an exquisite delicacy in some
of the expressions of the hymn, which I greatly like. How touching
the allusion to our former state of indifference and insensibility!
How correct the beautiful reference to the moral efficacy of the
Saviour's death in exciting sorrow for sin! But the last stanza, in
my opinion, is the most soothing and consolatory--

    'He who Mary thus affected,
    Bids his mourners weep no more.'"

"It is a favourite hymn of mine," observed Mr. Lewellin; "and the
last stanza, to which you refer, brings to my recollection the lines
of Cowper:--

    'But with a soul that ever felt the sting
    Of sorrow, sorrow is a sacred thing.'

But no sorrow is so deep and pungent as that which the mind
usually feels when pierced by the convictions of guilt; and yet
there is a sacredness in the passion which distinguishes it from
unmingled anguish or grief. When first excited, it often occasions
deep mental depression; but when relief is obtained, by a clear
perception of the way of salvation through faith in the death of
Jesus Christ, it is turned into a spring of grateful joy."

"But the generality of professing Christians," said Miss Roscoe,
"scornfully reject those religious sentiments which commence their
moral operations by inflicting pain in the mind. They are religious,
but their religious opinions are not permitted to excite either
the passion of sorrow or of joy; and as soon as a person begins to
_feel_ what he believes, he is denounced a fanatic."

"Yes," replied Mr. Lewellin, "when a person begins to feel the
moral efficacy of the truth, he is regarded by many as falling into
a state of idiotcy, or rising to a pitch of frenzy. We may feel
the charm of music, but not the charm of devotional sentiment; we
may be depressed when we give offence to an endeared friend, but
a recollection of our transgressions against our Father who is in
heaven must occasion no regret; the imagination may be delighted
by captivating scenery, but not with the sublime visions of future
bliss. No! An excitement which takes its rise in such causes is
considered by the semi-Christians of the present age as a certain
indication of a disordered intellect or degenerated taste."

"The veil of ignorance," observed the Rev. Mr. Guion, "which is
thrown over the mind of the unregenerate, renders them incapable
of forming any clear perceptions of the nature or design of the
gospel. They reduce the whole of religion to a human arrangement,
which merely requires an external homage to an established formula;
and conclude that after they have uttered the solemn responses of
the Liturgy, listened to the sermon which the clergyman delivers,
and taken the sacrament, they have discharged the whole of their
duty towards God; and as they have no clear perceptions of revealed
truth, they cannot have any powerful religious impressions. Their
heart is as cold during the service as the marble slab which bears
down to succeeding generations the names of the deceased of past
ages; and as they never feel deep sorrow for sin, nor ardent love
for an unseen Redeemer, we ought not to be astonished if they treat
with contempt the excitement of such emotions in the breast of
others."

"Certainly not," replied Miss Roscoe; "I very well recollect being
much surprised when I accidentally heard a little girl singing the
following verse of a hymn, which I now much admire:--

    ''Tis religion that can give
    Sweetest pleasures while we live;
    'Tis religion must supply
    Solid comforts when we die.'

I was quite incapable of conceiving how religion could give
_pleasure_. I compared a religious service with a concert; and while
the recollection of the one produced a pleasant feeling, the other
appeared dull and insipid. I compared a Sabbath-day with another
day, and regretted that custom had set it apart for observances
which were repugnant to my taste. If I went to church, I felt no
interest in the service; and if I stayed away, I was unconscious of
having sustained any loss of mental improvement or enjoyment."

"But I presume," said Mr. Lewellin, "that _now_ you can trace the
connection between religion and pleasure."

"Yes, Sir; there is an inseparable connection between the influence
of religious truth on the heart, and the highest degree of mental
enjoyment; it brings the soul into a new world of being, where
objects, unseen by the natural eye, disclose their beauties;
and truths, unfelt by the unrenewed mind, excite a joy which is
unspeakable. Now I can understand the Scriptures; the Saviour is
invested with overpowering charms, and the futurity which stretches
beyond the grave, presents a clear and spacious scene of bliss to my
imagination."

"How naturally," observed Mr. Guion, "the mind of an enlightened
Christian associates the hope of future happiness with the name
of the Redeemer. How cheering and animating to believe that after
the sorrows and turmoils of this life have ceased, we shall enter
into rest. What a scene of sublime grandeur will open on us then,
enkindling emotions of astonishment and joyous delight infinitely
beyond any ever previously felt!"

"I admit," said Mr. Lewellin, "that the external beauties of the
heavenly world will impart a high degree of delight, but the society
of the place will constitute the chief source of felicity. We shall
behold the Son of God seated on his throne of majesty and grace.
He is the perfection of beauty, and his form is as glorious as his
nature is pure. What an impression will be produced _when_ we see
him face to face!"

"I love," said Mrs. Stevens, "to think of heaven as the
dwelling-place of my Redeemer. The very anticipation of the first
interview with him whom unseen I love and adore, excites a feeling
in my soul, rich in all that is sacred and delightful. I have, it is
true, many ties which bind me to earth, yet there are seasons when I
can sing the ardent language of the poet without a faltering accent--

    'Where Jesus dwells my soul would be,
    And faints my glorious Lord to see;
    Earth, twine no more about my heart,
    For 'tis far better to depart.'"

I had as yet taken no part in the conversation, but this reference
to Jesus Christ now living in the celestial world, led me to remark
that the sufferings he endured when on earth were a decisive
proof that he came to accomplish some wonderful ulterior design.
We know, from the testimony of the Word of God, that there are
beings in heaven of divers rank and order; but from what has taken
place, and what is still taking place in the economy of the Divine
procedure, we find that a new order of beings is to be called into
existence, and one which is to take precedence of all others--to
stand out conspicuously for the admiration of all worlds, as the
most marvellous specimens of the creating power of God. But instead
of putting forth his creative power, as when the angelic orders
were called into existence, the Lord Jesus himself, in human form,
comes into the dark and wicked world, and, out of the most impure
elements, moulds a people for himself, whom he will acknowledge as
his brethren, and to whom the angels of God are to act for ever as
ministering spirits.

Mr. Lewellin replied: "We are accustomed to say that the facts of
real life are often more startling and surprising than the wildest
conceptions of romance, but the fact to which you have just given
such a prominency is one which must have taken all beings, of
all worlds, by surprise; the lowest and the meanest in the scale
of intelligence, if not the most polluted and the most vile, are
advanced, through the condescending grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
to stand at the head of the intelligent creation of God."

"Then," said Miss Roscoe, "to be a redeemed sinner, when the
ulterior purpose of Jesus Christ is actually accomplished in us,
will be regarded as a nobler mark of distinction than to be an
archangel."

"Yes, the angels of God are the _servants_ of the celestial
establishment, but redeemed sinners are the sons of God, fashioned
like unto the glorious form of Jesus Christ himself, each one being
the express image of Jehovah's person."

An allusion having been made to the impression which must have been
made on the minds of the apostles when gazing on the ascension of
Jesus Christ, I mentioned that I had recently heard an intimate
friend give a graphic description of the scene, in a discourse
delivered in his own chapel, and, at my request, he was kind enough
to give me a copy of it. As it bore an emphatic relation to the
subject of our conversation, I then read it to the party:--

"When going with his apostles from Jerusalem to Bethany, he stops,
and stops somewhat abruptly, as though under the impulse of some
new thought--they also stop; and when he lifts up his hands, they
gather around him; he speaks--they listen with fixed eagerness of
attention; he blesses them, though in what form of expression we
are not told; they feel the power of his blessing diffusing through
their soul an indescribable sensation of calm and ecstatic joy;
still looking on him with intense earnestness, at once expressive of
their confidence and their love, they suddenly see a movement, and
are startled, but not affrighted; he moves, he rises above them, and
enters a trackless pathway, on which no one but himself could tread;
he is parted from them, gradually ascending higher and higher, till
at length a bright cloud receives him, and he disappears out of
their sight. They are petrified to the spot, not by terror, but
amazement; no one speaks--all instinctively feel that the spot is
too hallowed for sounds of human utterance. Two messengers from the
celestial world break the silence of ecstatic wonder, saying, 'Ye
men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus,
which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner
as ye have seen him go into heaven.' The apostles bow in reverential
awe, and on the spot on which he stood before he was parted from
them, they kneel down and worship him, and then return to Jerusalem
with great joy.

"With what raptures did the celestial spirits hail his return,
and with what joyful awe did they witness his re-investure with
the glory he had with the Father before the world was. A new and
never-to-be-forgotten era in the annals of immortality is now begun;
the new dispensation of mediatorial grace and love, for which
the events of four thousand years had been a preparation, is now
established; inaugurated into his office as a king and a priest on
his throne, he presents to the joyous spectators the first redeemed
sinner brought from earth to grace his triumphs. And who is selected
for this novel manifestation of his power and his love? A man of
genius? a man of rank? a man of Platonic virtue or of Socratic fame?
No: a man of crime! who but a few days before was hanging on a
cross of infamy and torture, reviling him who is now presenting him
faultless before the presence of the Most High, amidst the praises
of myriads of celestial spirits. What a wondrous scene!"

"Yes," said Mr. Guion, "that is a scene I should like to have
beheld, but the resurrection will surpass it in awful grandeur; and
this we shall all see."

This animating conversation excited a degree of feeling which I
am not able to describe. Every countenance beamed with delight,
and even Miss Denham, who had been a mere listener, manifested an
interest in it which I was rather surprised to witness. At length
Mr. Stevens rang the bell, when the servants entered the parlour,
and Mr. Guion, after reading a portion of the Scriptures, engaged
in prayer. He was solemn and devout, and though no visions of
glory were seen, nor any supernatural voices heard, yet the Divine
presence was eminently enjoyed, and we rose from our knees and sang--

    "The world knows nothing of the joys
       That Christian fellowship supplies;
     Enamour'd of their glitt'ring toys,
       Our hopes seem nothing in their eyes.

    "But we can witness what we know,
       And speak aloud, nor care who hears;
     Our joys from heavenly sources flow,
       And would be ill exchanged for theirs.

    "We envy not the great and wise;
       We count ourselves more blest than they:
     We're taught their honours to despise,
       And from their joys to turn away.

    "'Twill soon appear who serve the Lord,
       And who are they who serve him not:
     Then let us hold his faithful word,
       And ours will be a glorious lot."

On resuming our seats, Mrs. Stevens said: "I think that _all_ the
pleasures of religion are not reserved for another world. There are
some which we may partake of in this, and one of the most gratifying
is the pleasure of doing good to others."

She then read to us a letter she had received from an aged
Dissenting minister, who had a large family and a very limited
income, imploring her generous assistance to enable him to extricate
himself from some pecuniary embarrassments.

"I am a clergyman," said Mr. Guion, "and feel no disposition to
leave the church, but I know how to respect a Dissenting minister,
and to sympathize with him in his afflictions. But this good man
wants something more than sympathy, and I feel thankful that it is
in my power to offer it."

"I have already collected a few pounds," said Mrs. Stevens,
"which, with the addition of your liberal donation, will be a very
acceptable present."

"The charity of bigotry," said Mr. Lewellin, "is restricted in
its sympathies, and, like the Levite, will pass by the sufferer
if he belong to another denomination, without extending relief;
but the benevolence of the gospel, like the good Samaritan, asks
no invidious questions, weeps with them that weep, and rejoices
with them that rejoice, and rising to an elevation which renders
the landmarks of religious distinctions invisible, pours down its
charities upon all who are in trouble."

"I assure you, Sir," replied Mr. Guion, "that as I advance in
life and become more imbued with the love of the truth, I feel an
increasing attachment to real Christians of every denomination,
particularly the faithful ministers of Jesus Christ. When I first
took orders I was a first-rate bigot; I resolved to have nothing
to do with Dissenters. I despised them. I contemned our venerable
friend Mr. Ingleby for his liberality, and refused to associate with
him because he associated with some pious Dissenters. I thought that
as they left the church they should be banished from all intercourse
with our society; and such was the degree of my hostility towards
them, that it would have given me pleasure to have seen them sent to
some distant colony, where they could live by themselves. But since
it hath pleased God to call me out of the darkness of ignorance in
which I was involved, into his marvellous light, and shed abroad his
love in my soul by the power of the Holy Ghost, I have cherished
the pure benevolence of the gospel, and now recognize all as
fellow-heirs of the grace of life who bear the image and breathe the
spirit of Jesus Christ."

"I think," said Mr. Stevens, "that the spirit of bigotry is
decidedly antichristian, as it separates those from each other who
are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and it has a natural
tendency to excite strong aversion in the minds of unbelievers
against religion; hence we ought to watch and pray, lest we should
be imperceptibly injured by it."

"But do you think," said Miss Roscoe, "that it is possible for a
real Christian to possess an atom of bigotry?"

"An atom!" exclaimed Mr. Lewellin, "I know some who are enslaved by
it."

"What! and Christians?" said Miss Roscoe.

"Yes."

"Indeed! I should have thought it impossible. But you would not
adduce their bigotry as an evidence of their personal religion?"

"O no, it is an evidence of their personal weakness."

"From such a spirit, Sir, I hope we shall ever be preserved. I would
shun it as much for its meanness as I do for its malignity; and look
on it as a demon who destroys the harmony which ought to prevail
among all who rest their hope in Christ."



MISS ROSCOE.


It was near the end of the following week ere Miss Roscoe and Mrs.
Stevens again met. After some remarks from Mrs. Stevens upon the
evident depression of her friend's spirits, Miss Roscoe observed:

"Since I had the pleasure of seeing you last week, I have felt the
extremes of anguish and of joy. My life is indeed a chequered one,
and I often wonder how the scene will end."

"Yes, my dear, the life of _every Christian_ is a chequered life.
He is liable to a continued change of feeling, and the scene of
Providence is ever shifting; the current of his history may run
on for a season in a smooth and even course, but it is constantly
exposed to obstructions. Joy and grief are very delicate passions;
and as they have such a powerful influence over us, it is wisely
ordained that we shall not be kept in a state of perpetual
excitement. They come in as with a flood of feeling; but, instead of
laying waste the mind, they often become the means of enriching it
with the most nutritious consolations."

"But how difficult it is to control grief, when it springs out of a
domestic calamity."

"I hope, my dear, you have no new domestic trial."

"I am not aware that I have a new one, but I have one that has
inflicted a most poignant wound, and I know not what steps to take.
My dear parents manifest the most decided hostility to my religious
opinions and habits. When they confined their hostility within the
bounds of argument and persuasion, I found it comparatively easy to
maintain the contest; but now they begin to reproach me, and I fear
their attachment is on the decline. To survive the loss of their
affection, I think, will be to live too long for my own peace. Where
shall I find another home? Where shall I find another father? Where
shall I find happiness when my parents cease to love me and regard
me as their daughter?"

"Though your parents are hostile to your religious opinions
and habits, their hostility will not continue always. They are
disappointed by your not appearing in that circle of society in
which they expected you to move; and are mortified by the satirical
remarks which your religious profession has provoked; but time will
soften down these asperities of feeling, and they will eventually
tolerate what they may never be disposed to sanction."

"But what ought I to do? Am I to sacrifice my religious principles
to parental solicitation? I have been advised to do so, as obedience
to parents is a cardinal virtue of Christianity. It is a virtue
which ought to live in the heart of every child; yet I feel I cannot
give it that form of expression which they wish. It is this that
aggravates my sorrow. I love them, I revere them, I would sacrifice
my health and my life to please them; but I cannot, I dare not
sacrifice my conscience."

"Your situation is very delicate and painful; yet you must remember
that you are under the peculiar protection of the Redeemer. He
has all power in heaven and on earth, and works all things after
the counsel of his own will. He can cause light to spring out of
darkness, and often comes forth to deliver his people when they
despair of help. I would advise you to be firm, yet temperate; to
blend the utmost degree of kindness with inflexible decision; to
avoid every appearance of eccentricity; not to introduce religious
questions in conversation at an improper time, and when you _do
introduce them_, cautiously abstain from minor and subordinate
topics; bear reproach without murmuring; never discover an eagerness
to expose erroneous views of truth, unless you have reason to
conclude that it can be done without giving offence; and, as a
general maxim, prove the truth and the excellence of your religious
sentiments and opinions, more by your life than by your tongue."

"I sometimes think that I shall sink beneath my afflictions, but
at other times I rise above them. I know that it is through much
tribulation that the righteous are to enter the kingdom, and I
know, also, that amidst all their tribulations they enjoy peace.
The candidate for immortality ought not to object to the cross; but
when the cross is prepared by those we love, it becomes peculiarly
oppressive. After much deliberation and many prayers, I resolved on
writing to my parents, and have placed in the hands of my father, as
I left home, a letter, a copy of which I will read to you:--

"'MY BELOVED PARENTS,--It is with many varied and conflicting
emotions that I now address you; you may think it strange that I
have chosen the more formal style of writing, rather than conversing
with you, but I trust you will agree with me that, considering
the importance of the subject which is now engaging so much of
our mutual thoughts and feelings, and the different opinions
we entertain, it is of great consequence that we should fully
understand each others' sentiments. Upon your kind sympathy I throw
myself; judge me not harshly; though compelled to differ from you on
many points, still let me have your usual kindness and consideration.

"'I am fully aware of the deep and poignant sorrow which my late
course of conduct has brought upon you; you have ever been to me
kind and indulgent, have brought me up in the enjoyment of every
comfort and elegance which your station in life has enabled you to
command; no expense has been spared to fit me for the position in
society you wish me to occupy; and now, by my own act and decision,
I deprive you of the pleasure and reward which you so naturally
expect. You wish to see me moving in elegant society, joining with
youthful vigour in those scenes of amusement and worldly gaiety in
which you think I ought to find delight, and attribute my objections
to such amusements to a morbid antipathy to the elegancies of life,
and an assumption of ascetic rigour ill suited to the character of
one who has enjoyed my advantages. Both from love and duty, you
require me again to frequent these scenes of amusement in which I
now feel no interest, again to conform to the usages of fashionable
life, and again to be, what I once was, "a giddy worldling." My dear
parents, were it an earthly attachment you asked me to surrender,
however great the sacrifice, however my heart, its woman's hopes and
happiness might be wrecked, so great is the affection I bear you, so
high a regard have I for parental authority, that I would yield. But
what is it that you ask of me? Not such a sacrifice as this--that
time, your love, and other ties might heal--but the sacrifice of
all I hold most dear, most valuable--the sacrifice of _myself_, my
precious and immortal soul. Start not, my father, but ponder well
and deeply what I say. Judge me not by this world's judgment, but
by the Scripture authority, which I know you revere, and will never
gainsay. I believe in no strange doctrine; no new or fanciful form
of religious truth has taken possession of my heart and feelings.
Taking the testimony of Scripture for my guidance, seeking to be
led alone by its revealed truth, and to learn and to obey its
commands, how can I conform to the world, and yet remain a disciple
of Christ Jesus? The two are impossible! "Be ye not conformed to
the world" is a solemn command, to which I must yield obedience.
It has pleased God in his providence so to influence my heart and
conscience, that I now see things with a different eye than before;
I must therefore regulate my conduct by these convictions. Love of
the world, and worldly pleasures, cannot find a place in the heart
of one who has given herself to Christ. You may plead that God
requires not sacrifices such as these from his people, especially
in opposition to parental authority; and that I have no right to
blast your happiness, and bring disgrace upon your family by my
eccentric notions. I cannot admit that by my decision I am justly
incurring your displeasure, or disgracing myself and you. I cannot,
conscientiously with my sense of duty to Christ, any longer mix with
the gay and thoughtless, make myself a partner in their follies, or
join in their amusements; but I am not required to shun literary
pursuits, the improvement of my mind, and those intellectual
enjoyments in which I have ever delighted; but believing, as I do,
the utter inconsistency of all worldly dissipation and gaiety with
the pursuits of a Christian life, I must for ever renounce them.
I am prepared for all that misrepresentation and contempt from
others may do to wound and annoy, but cannot give up my religious
principles, and what I consider my Christian duty. I trust, with
the blessing of God, and help from him, sustained by the love and
sympathy of my dear Redeemer, I could willingly become _a martyr_,
but never either an inconsistent professor or an apostate.

"'My beloved parents, ponder well ere you deprive me of your
confidence and affection; listen not to the satire and bitterness
of others, who cannot judge me as I ought to be judged. Believe
me--supreme love to the Saviour will not make me love you less;
my religious feelings will not make me indifferent to the claims
of parental regard, authority, and affection. I shall not be less
your child because I call God my father. I implore you, let not
domestic strife and sorrow enter our once happy home! For the sake
of _peace_, must I conform to the world, return to the habits and
customs of fashionable life, be again--what I once was--one of
the gay and thoughtless, or no longer the child of your fondest
affections, or perhaps even an inmate of your home? Bear with me
while I tell you; my choice is made; I am prepared to sacrifice
everything but my religious freedom, my love for my Saviour, and
obedience to his authority. 'He that loveth father and mother more
than me, is not worthy of me.'

"'It will not be long, at the longest space of time, before this
world, with all its gaieties and follies, will pass away from us;
we know not how much of sorrow or joy lies before us; what will
sustain us should sorrow as a flood flow over us, desolation, and
bitter woe? Will the jocund laugh, the merry dance, the enlivening
strain of earth's sweetest music, soothe the heart overburdened
with deepest sorrow? If we have no other foundation to rest upon
than these--no other friendship than that of the world, which is as
evanescent as its happiness--where shall we go if sorrow withers
our joys and enters our home? But we may escape these, and, like
a peaceful stream, our years may glide from us, our sky still be
bright and serene, and a cloudless sunset cheer our departing day;
but night follows day--and there is a night, dark and stormy if
unenlightened from above, coming upon us all, for which we each
one must prepare--the night of death! What will it avail us then
whether riches or poverty, rank or _meanness_, has been our portion
here? These will not save us; all that human love and friendship
can effect will be unavailing then, if our hope is not on high--if
an Almighty friend is not with us to divide for us the waters of
dissolution--to become our intercessor and Saviour. Oh! my beloved
parents, dearer to me than life itself, think of these things; think
of the last earthly scene; let me prepare for it, and forget not
that the same preparation is needful for you.

"'I can no longer trifle with the things of time; an eternity of
bliss or woe is before me. I am prepared for the sacrifice of all
earthly honour and happiness, that I may be safe in Christ, and
prepared to meet him at his coming. That you, my dear parents, may
finally meet me in the heavenly world, where no sorrow can enter,
and where the voice of discord is never heard, is the sincere prayer
of your affectionate and dutiful child,

  "'SOPHIA.'"

"I have no doubt," said Mrs. Stevens, "but this letter will
operate greatly in your favour. Your parents are labouring under a
misapprehension, which your open and frank statement will remove;
and while they must admire the independence which claims its
rights, they will respect those religious principles which no human
authority can, or ought even to attempt to subdue."

"Oh! they are the best of parents, and if they had not been
influenced by the evil spirit of others, they never would have
disturbed my peace. I blame not them, but the officious few who,
like the ancient Pharisees, will not go into the kingdom of heaven
themselves, nor suffer them that are entering to go in. But I
forgive them. They demand my pity--they have it--and my prayers
also, for they know not what they do. I will now, as a diversion
from this painful subject, read to you an interesting letter which
I have just received from a young friend with whom I formed an
acquaintance when at Dawlish, and I have no doubt it will give you
great pleasure, as it has given me. She was, when I first knew her,
devoted to the pleasures of this world; but now, I trust, she is
seeking those of a better:--

"'MY DEAR SOPHIA,--I received your last letter; on looking at
the date of it, I must apologize to you for leaving it so long
unanswered. It came to me while my mind was in an agitated state,
and I had almost abandoned the hope of future happiness. Not that
I have been called to pass through any scene of earthly trial and
disappointment, but my volatile and thoughtless heart has been
deeply impressed by the conviction of my sinfulness in the sight
of God, and my consequent danger. Although I have received a
religious education, and ever felt a reverence for what is sacred
and sublime, yet love for real religion had never found a place
in my heart. Far from my thoughts and feelings was all regard
for what is most essential to our eternal interests. Fond of the
society of the worldly and gay, my chief pleasure and pursuits have
been in the world--gayest among the gay, the festive dance, the
evening assembly--all the pleasures which may be derived from the
associations and charms which this vain and transitory scene can
give, had acquired a complete ascendency over my heart. The thought
of death and futurity I banished from me, living on in a state of
careless, thoughtless indifference.

"'At this time a friend presented to me a little treatise, and I
could not from politeness refuse to read it. From its perusal I
have received those deep and powerful impressions, which, I trust,
may never be effaced from my heart. I now see wherein I have acted
so foolishly. God, in his great mercy, has poured into my soul the
light of Divine truth. Oh! how greatly are all things changed to me!
I can no longer find pleasure in worldly dissipation and gaiety; I
have entirely forsaken those scenes of folly and sin; and am I not
happy? The peace and true joy which only a Christian can know, has
taken possession of my heart; love to my Saviour, who lived and died
for me, and a sense of his forgiving mercy, is my chief delight.
In the study of the Holy Scriptures I find intense enjoyment; the
time I formerly spent in thoughtless gaiety I now devote to the
improvement of my mind, and the sacred delights of private devotion.
If you, my dear Sophia, have felt the renewing influence of Divine
truth, you will be able to rejoice with me, and fully comprehend the
gratitude I feel to Him who has arrested my steps, and is now, I
trust, leading me in the paths of purer happiness and peace.

"'Hoping soon to receive another letter from you, and with kind
remembrances from my dear parents, believe me, ever your sincere
friend,

  "'LOUISA.'"

"It is pleasing," said Mrs. Stevens, "to see the progress which the
truth is making. It is true we cannot boast of numbers, when we
compare the righteous with the irreligious, yet our number is on the
increase. The poor in general hear and receive the gospel; and the
God of all grace is calling some in the higher ranks of society to
be the living witnesses to its truth and excellence."

"But how few the number! We may quote the language of the apostle
as descriptive of the present state of the higher orders: 'Not many
wise, not many mighty, not many noble are called.' Alas! no. The
wise disdain to receive instruction from the fishermen of Galilee;
the mighty are too proud to yield subjection to the authority of
the son of the carpenter; and the noble contemn the ignominy and
reproach of the cross. They support the dignity of the church, while
they debase the character of its Founder; venerate its ministers,
while they despise and reject the authority of their Master; observe
its sacraments and its ceremonies, while they repudiate the design
for which they were instituted; and move onward towards the unknown
world of spirits, without ever agitating the great question, _What
must I do to be saved?_ Alas! they are self-doomed to endless woe.
"We should pity and pray for them."

"Their talents, their rank, and their wealth, often excite our envy;
but if we knew all the moral disadvantages which are attendant on
their great possessions, such a passion would never glow in our
breast. They are exempted from many of the evils which press on
the lower and middle classes of society, but they are not exempted
from the pangs of sorrow, nor the visitations of death. A late
senator,[9] whose knowledge of human life and manners was as
comprehensive as his eloquence was brilliant and fascinating, has
somewhere said, 'that to the great the consolations of religion are
as necessary as its instructions. They, too, are among the unhappy.
They feel personal pain and domestic sorrow. In these they have
no privilege, but are subject to pay their full contingent to the
contributions levied on mortality.'"

  [9] Burke.

"From the intercourse which I have held with the higher circles,
I am of opinion that there is a much smaller proportion of real
happiness among them than is generally imagined; and when I reflect
on the temptations and dangers to which they are necessarily
exposed, I feel no disposition to envy them. But what rank of life
is free from danger? Who, of all the human family, would ever
seek redemption through the blood of Christ, unless impelled by
an invisible force? What heart would ever glow with love to God,
unless that passion be enkindled as with a live coal from off his
own hallowed altar? And where this passion does glow, what force can
extinguish it? And if we have been made to differ from others, ought
we not to distinguish ourselves both by the purity of our life, and
the ardour of our zeal for the honour of the Lord Jesus?"

"Where much is given, much is required. Our responsibility rises
in proportion to the elevation of our rank and the extent of our
influence. When I see a professing Christian, possessed of wealth
and of leisure, freed from the incumbrances of the world, yet living
a supine and comparatively inactive life--while he makes no effort
to form plans for the moral welfare of society, or to lend his aid
to those already established--I feel the force of the apostolic
question, How dwelleth the love of God in him?"

"There is, in my opinion, a grand peculiarity in the religion of
Jesus Christ, which cannot be expressed in more emphatic language
than that of Paul:--'For the love of Christ constraineth us; because
we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and
that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth
live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose
again.'"



THE FAMILY OF THE LAWSONS.


One evening I received an invitation to dinner from Mr. Lawson, a
retired tradesman in easy circumstances, who within the last three
years had settled in his native village. Mr. Lawson was a man of
no education, but possessed of an active mind; his manners were
unpolished yet agreeable; and though he had been busily engaged in
the trading world for more than twenty years, he had quite acquired
the habits of a country gentleman. His garden was his favourite
amusement; there he toiled early and late, displaying great taste in
its cultivation, and often availing himself of the gratification of
sending a portion of its fruits to some of his old city friends.

He married early in life, and made what was thought a prudent
choice; he had no fortune with his wife, but soon found he had a
fortune _in_ her; for what he gained by industry, she preserved by
rigid economy. He used often to repeat with satisfaction one of
her choice maxims--_those tradesmen who begin life as gentlefolks,
often end life as paupers_. Mrs. Lawson's early habits of economy
in process of time degenerated into extreme parsimony; and though
she would often talk of charity, yet she usually excused herself
from the practice of this virtue by quoting the common adage--_we
must be just before we are generous_. Though a rigid economy was the
order of the house, Mrs. Lawson was more anxious for the education
of her children than her husband. He often used to say, "Where is
the necessity of spending so much money in education, when we got on
well enough without it?" To which she would aptly reply, "The times
are changed, and if we wish our children to move with respectability
in that rank of life to which their fortunes will elevate them, we
must train them up for it."

Mrs. Lawson was considered very religious by some of her most
intimate friends, but she was more attached to the doctrines of the
gospel than to its precepts, and usually expressed a more ardent
desire to enjoy the consolations of faith, than to grow in knowledge
and in grace. She was more solicitous to guard the little territory
of opinion which her judgment occupied, than to extend the empire
of righteousness and peace; and though she would sometimes speak of
the love of God to sinners, yet such qualified terms were invariably
employed, that it bore, at least in her estimation, an exclusive
reference to a few of her own order. On their settlement at
Broadhurst they attended the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Ingleby, but
his style of preaching did not exactly suit Mrs. Lawson; sometimes
he preached well, but at other times he was too legal--he dwelt too
much on the preceptive part of the Scriptures, and too little on
the doctrinal. He enjoined obedience to the law of God, instead of
leaving the principle of grace to produce it, without any reference
to obligation. He did not go sufficiently deep into Christian
experience, nor employ that singular phraseology of speech which
she had been accustomed to admire. Mr. Lawson and his daughters
were more delighted with this new style of preaching (as it was
termed) than with the old; but rather than disturb the harmony of
the family, they consented to go with Mrs. Lawson on the Sabbaths a
distance of six miles, to hear one of her more favourite ministers.
This circumstance at first wounded the feelings of the rector, and
excited no small degree of astonishment among the pious, who had
anticipated that this family would have been an acquisition to their
little circle; but when the spirit of Mrs. Lawson was more fully
displayed, and her sentiments more generally known, it gave entire
satisfaction, as they were unwilling to have their numbers augmented
at the expense of their mutual felicity.

The day on which I was to dine with Mr. Lawson at length arrived.
After dinner our conversation turned on religious subjects, and Mrs.
Lawson distinguished herself, not less by her loquacity than by the
occasional bitterness of her spirit.

"I think, Sir," she said, "that we live in very awful times; but few
know the truth, and very few preach it. I do not know six ministers
in the kingdom whom I could hear with any pleasure."

"Indeed, Madam, and what is the cause?"

"I hope, Sir, _you_ know."

"But, my dear," said Mr. Lawson, "how should this gentleman, who is
a stranger among us, know the cause unless you tell him?"

"If, then," said Mrs. Lawson, "I must speak, though it is with great
reluctance that I bring forward such a heavy charge, _they do not
preach the gospel_. They are in general mere moral lecturers, and
their sermons are mere essays on some one branch of relative duty;
but those who are called 'evangelical,' I consider most censurable;
because, though they profess to know the truth, yet they are afraid
to preach it."

"I presume you except Mr. Inglebly from this sweeping charge?"

"He may be a good man, but his knowledge of the gospel is very
superficial. I have occasionally heard him preach a sermon which
has given me a little pleasure, but his light merely serves to make
his darkness the more visible. He preaches what I call a legalized
gospel; instead of preaching a free salvation, he is always
exhorting his hearers to be doing something; and tells them that
they must look into their own heart, or to their own life, for the
evidences of a work of grace."

"And pray, Madam, where is a person to look for a genuine proof of
his personal religion, unless he does look into his own mind? Are
we not told that a tree is to be known by its fruit? And is not
this figure employed by Jesus Christ to teach us that if our moral
principles are good, we shall exhibit the visible signs of their
goodness in our life and conversation?"

"I hear a great deal about moral goodness in the present day, but I
very seldom see any; human nature is awfully depraved; some preach
about its being made better by the grace of God, but I believe it
never can be improved. The heart after conversion is as deceitful
and as desperately wicked as before, and if we are saved it must be
by free and sovereign grace."

"I admit, with you, Madam, that those who are saved 'are saved by
grace through faith;' but does not that faith purify the heart
and overcome the temptations of the world? Where the principle
of grace is implanted, is it not represented as reigning through
righteousness unto eternal life?"

"Yes, Sir, and our evangelical moralists tell us that the principle
of grace will gradually extend its influence over the whole mind,
till every disposition is subdued, and we are fitted for the kingdom
of heaven."

"And do we not read that he that hath the hope of future blessedness
'purifieth himself, even as God is pure?'"

"But how can we purify ourselves? Does not such an idea supersede
the work of the Spirit?"

"By no means, Madam. If we are made alive from the dead by
the infusion of the principle of spiritual life, we possess a
certain degree of moral power; but this power does not render us
self-sufficient; we become new but not independent creatures. We
have duties to discharge, but we are not left to discharge them in
our own strength. Mark the reasoning of the apostle: 'For if ye
live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye, _through the Spirit_,
do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.' Here we see human
agency, in concurrence with the assistance of the Spirit, employed
in mortifying the deeds of the body."

"It is but seldom," observed Mr. Lawson, "that I interfere with
any religious discussion, but I must confess that I like those
principles which have the best influence over our temper and our
actions. My wife contends for faith, and some high points in
divinity which I cannot reach; and though I readily agree with
her, that faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ is essential to
salvation, yet I like to see some good works following it."

"What do we more than others?" I replied, "is a question which is
proposed to us by high authority. Many who reject Christianity
carry the principles of morality to very high perfection, and are
distinguished for their integrity and benevolence, but we are
required to surpass them. The same mind which dwelt in Christ
Jesus is to dwell in us. We are not only to admire his humility
and condescension, his meekness and his devotional fervour, but
to imitate it. We are not only to love him as a Saviour, and obey
him as a sovereign, but to follow him as an example. If we contend
for the faith, we are to 'contend earnestly,' but always with
the 'meekness of wisdom.' We should never indulge ourselves in
indiscriminate censure, nor vainly presume on our own infallibility,
but endeavour to hold the unity of the faith without bursting the
bond of peace."

The young ladies, who appeared altogether indifferent to the
conversation, now withdrew. They were genteel in their manners, and
seemingly amiable in their dispositions; but their style of dress
gave me no high opinion of their moral taste. They were much too gay
in their appearance for the daughters of religious parents, and I
could not avoid receiving the impression that they spent a larger
portion of their time in adjusting the plaiting of their hair, and
the disposal of their ornaments, than in the cultivation of their
minds. I love to see an elegant neatness in female attire, but when
the passion for dress reigns in the heart, it destroys dignity of
character, engenders vanity, consumes time, is always instituting
comparisons which either mortify pride or inflame it; and it becomes
such a perpetual drain on the resources of the pocket, that the
claims of charity are rejected, because they cannot be relieved.

"My daughters," said Mrs. Lawson, "have received a very superior
education, but have never seen much of fashionable life; they were
never at a ball or a play; and though I _once_ permitted them to
attend a concert, yet only once. I think their taste would lead them
to such scenes of amusement; but, as they know my objections, they
do not press for my consent."

"As religious parents," I observed, "_ought_ to support the
sacredness of their character by the moral consistency of their
conduct, _so ought their children_. They have the same evil
dispositions and propensities as the children of the irreligious,
but they are placed under more powerful obligations to repress and
subdue them. It is true that parents cannot force their children
to be religious, but they have a right to expect them to pay some
attention to the injunctions of religion, if not for their own
sake, yet from respect to the feelings and reputation of their
parents. This respect for parental feeling and reputation is often
the safeguard of juvenile worth; but when it is once destroyed,
the barrier of restraint is broken down, and ruin becomes almost
inevitable. I once said to a youth, who was pleading in favour of
a fashionable amusement, 'Remember, your parents are pious; and if
you persist, you will not only wound their feelings, but dishonour
their reputation; and will you deliberately commit two such evils
for a momentary gratification?' After a short pause, he replied,
'No, Sir; I will not purchase personal indulgence at such a price. I
will never deliberately wound feelings which I ought to hold sacred,
nor injure a reputation which I would allow no person to attack with
impunity.'"

"That was a noble decision," said Mr. Lawson, "and the youth who
formed it, I have no doubt, is an ornament to his father's house."

I now ventured to remark, that the present era afforded the
Christian parent great facilities in the discharge of his religious
duties towards his children, as the variety of engaging works
which issue from the press are calculated not only to interest but
to instruct, and the numerous societies which are formed for the
education of the poor, and for evangelizing the heathen, have a
tendency to keep up a high sense of the importance of religion in
the youthful mind, while they call his powers into active operation."

"Yes, Sir," said Mrs. Lawson, "the press sends forth its monthly
publications, but I permit very few to enter this house. I do not
approve of teaching young people religion; for who can teach but the
Holy Spirit? And He does not require any human performance to aid
him in his work. Sunday-schools may do a little good, by keeping
the children out of mischief; but I am no friend of missions to the
heathen: when their time comes they will be called; and, till that
'set time' comes, it is no use for us to send them the gospel."

"Then, Madam," I asked, with some degree of surprise, "are your
daughters connected with no religious institution?"

"No, Sir; and if they were to wish it, I would not give my consent.
A person ought to possess religion before he engages in any
religious exercises."

"I know a young lady," I observed, "who entered a Sunday-school, and
she soon became an excellent teacher; but, when reflecting on the
nature and design of her employment, her heart smote her, as she
felt convinced that she had never experienced the power of religion
on her own soul. It pleased God to bless these reflections to her
conversion, and she is now an eminently devoted disciple of the Lord
Jesus."

"Such a case _is possible_," said Mrs. Lawson, "because, 'with God
all things are possible;' but I should think it an insult to Him to
send my daughters to teach in a Sunday-school, or to collect for a
missionary society, as an inducement for him to convert them."

"I wish," said Mr. Lawson, with great earnestness, "our daughters
were converted; I should have a larger portion of happiness than
I now have, and should look forward to the grave with much more
composure. But, alas! all their attention is devoted to the follies
of the world--dress, music, painting, and visiting, consume the
greater part of their time. I see the children of other religious
families decidedly pious, but I see no signs of piety in mine; I
begin to think that we have neglected the means, and therefore God
withholds his grace."

This remark excited a smile on the countenance of Mrs. Lawson
who satirically observed, that her husband was fond of the legal
dispensation. "What," she added, with great warmth of expression,
"shall the Divine decree be subject to the control of our freewill?
Have not the Lord's people, in every age, had wicked children? Yes;
Abraham had an Ishmael, and David an Absalom, 'but the foundation of
God standeth sure; the Lord knoweth them that are his.'"

"True, Madam; but are we not commanded to 'train up our children
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!' I know that we cannot
give them the grace of life, but we can give them instruction;
we cannot force their obedience, but we may convince them of its
reasonableness; we cannot keep them from evil, but we may succeed in
placing many formidable obstructions in their path to ruin."

"Very true, Sir; but human expedients will never renew their souls.
This is a work which Divine grace alone can do; and I think that we
ought not to labour to accomplish what we know we cannot effect."

"But do we not know that the Spirit often breathes on the dry bones
while the prophet is calling on them to live? We know that we cannot
command a future harvest, but does that conviction prevent our
sowing the seed?"

'But, Sir, it is no use to sow the seed unless God gives the
increase."

"Very true, Madam, and have we any reason to expect the increase
unless we do sow the seed? Are we not commanded, 'In the morning
sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou
knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether
they both shall be alike good?'"

"I know, Sir, that your opinions and mine are very different on
most religious subjects; and I think, if we continue the debate, we
shall not come to an agreement. I daily pray for the conversion of
my children, and take them with me to hear the pure gospel of Jesus
Christ; and I leave them in the hands of God, to do with them as
seemeth good in his sight. I cannot merit grace for them, neither
can they merit it for themselves. If it be given, it will be given
freely; and if it be withheld, it will be withheld righteously."

The cool indifference with which she uttered these sentiments
paralyzed my whole frame, and I felt that I ought to make no reply.
Indeed, what reply could I make that would have made any good
impressions on a mind so devoid of the common feelings of humanity,
as to give utterance to expressions of such a fearful import? I
involuntarily sighed over victims which a perverted faith was
preparing against the day of slaughter, unless a miracle of grace
should be wrought to prevent it, and speedily retired from the room,
in which I had suffered more mental anguish than I had felt during
my whole visit to Fairmount.

There is a strange diversity of character in the professing world,
but amidst all the varieties which it contains, no one presents
so many repelling qualities as the high antinomian professor. He
embraces a few leading truths of the Bible, while he rejects others
not less essential and important. His spirit is bitter, and his
censures indiscriminate; and while he pleads for the divinity of a
system which inculcates humility and meekness as cardinal virtues,
he usually displays much pride, and great want of charity. He
arrogates to himself the collected wisdom of the age, stamps his
own opinions with the seal of infallibility, and has the vanity
to suppose, and the hardihood to assert, that he, and he only,
understands the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The compassion
which sighs over the moral miseries of the world, never glows in his
breast; the pity that weeps in prospect of the desolation which is
coming on the ungodly, never moistens his eye; the eloquence which
would warn them of their danger, and point them to the refuge of
safe retreat, never quivers on his lips; and if we could penetrate
the deep recesses of his soul, and render ourselves familiar with
every passion which claims a local habitation there, we should find
ourselves associated with the master vices of the moral world;
whose breath pollutes, and whose touch defiles; whose existence, in
connection with the religion of the Saviour, is a mystery which a
future day will unravel, but which the present has reason bitterly
to deplore.

The antinomian heresy, which, happily, is not now so prevalent in
this country as it was in the early part of the present century, is
qualified for mischief by the very properties which might seem to
render it merely an object of contempt--its vulgarity of conception,
its paucity of ideas, and its determined hostility to taste,
science, and letters. It includes, within a compass which every head
can contain, and every tongue can utter, a system which cancels
every moral tie, consigns the whole human race to the extremes of
presumption or despair, erects religion on the ruins of morality,
and imparts to the dregs of stupidity all the powers of the most
active poison.

To find the children of such professors of religion devoted to
the follies and vices of the world, ought to excite less surprise
than regret; because it is wisely and judicially ordained, that
the adoption of error and the neglect of duty shall meet with a
just rebuke, and a severe chastisement, in the consequences which
inseparably attend them. But ought not the irreligion of such
children to become a beacon to warn parents of the danger of such
perverted notions and such criminal remissness? Shall we presume to
insult the Holy One by offering up our prayers for their conversion,
if we withhold from them instruction, and cease to exercise a
constant and active vigilance over the formation of their character
and their habits?

Can such professors be said to _adorn_ the doctrine of God our
Saviour in all things? Do they "add to their faith, virtue; and to
virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance,
patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly
kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity?" Are they conformed
to the image of the Son of God? If we compare their vanity with his
humility--their bitterness of spirit with his gentleness--their
bigotry with his liberality--their love of discord and contention
with his love of peace--their insensibility to the moral disorders
of the world with the tears he shed when anticipating the
desolations which were coming on the inhabitants of Jerusalem--and
the rancorous eagerness which they discover to restrict the
blessings of redemption to a select few, with the unbounded
comprehension of his invitations addressed to all, of every age
and every clime--we must feel at a loss to conceive how they can
present any fair claim to fellowship with him. If the Saviour were
to reappear on earth, he would calumniate no minister who preaches
salvation by grace--he would break up the peace of no church which
holds the unity of the faith--he would show his regard for the law
of God by obeying its precepts, and unveil the glory of the gospel
by proclaiming it among all people. But the modern antinomian
preaches only to the _elect_--sets aside the authority of the law
by pleading the indemnities of grace--disturbs the harmony of the
brethren by the contentions of discord--and pours insufferable
contempt on those holy men who endeavour to win souls to Christ,
because they execute every part of their commission. We may speak
of them in the language which Jacob employed in reference to two of
his sons, "O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their
assembly, mine honour, be not thou united."

Sometimes these high antinomian sentiments are embraced by
persons whose genuine piety operates as a check to their natural
tendency; but they ought always to be avoided as a moral
contagion, which, though kept under restraint for a season,
will eventually break out, and produce essential injury in any
Christian community. Who can look abroad without seeing occasion
to deplore their pernicious effects? The religious instruction
of children is discountenanced--the claims of the heathen are
rejected--the love of the brethren no longer remains the test of
discipleship--the great majority of the world are placed under
the ban of reprobation--the attractive graces of the Spirit are
repudiated as obnoxious to the faith--and the lovely, the merciful,
the compassionate Redeemer is appealed to, to sanction these
monstrosities of modern professors.



CALM DISCUSSION.


The letter which Miss Roscoe addressed to her parents proved a
means of softening down their prejudices, and convincing them of
the impropriety of attempting to force her to comply with customs
which were offensive to her feelings. Though they could not feel the
attractions in religion of which she spake, they resolved never more
to annoy or reproach her. Thus the cloud which had been gathering
for months, threatening the destruction of all her domestic peace,
passed away, and she was now left to pursue her onward course
undismayed by difficulties, because she had no longer to contend
with the spirit of persecution.

I have sometimes known the ardour of devotional feeling cool as soon
as the fire of persecution has been extinguished; and the heroic
fortitude, which the storm has been unable to subdue, has gradually
relaxed under the soft influence of prosperous ease. The mind,
almost instinctively, accommodates itself to its circumstances;
and though it rises in stern defiance against the lawless threats
of injustice and oppression, it too often sinks into a state of
comparative apathy when opposition ceases. It is at such a period
that religious principles are in danger. Courtesy will often prompt
to a sacrifice which compulsion could never obtain; a smile will
sometimes conquer where a frown would fortify to resistance; and
the faith which has stood immovable amidst the virulence of reproach
and sarcasm, has sometimes wavered under the entreaties of parental
kindness, and the tender solicitations of endeared friends.

But such was the ascendency which Divine truth had acquired over
the mind of Miss Roscoe, and such the decision of her character,
that no external change impaired the strength, or shook the firmness
of her religious principles. She was not less spiritually minded
under the sunbeams of prosperity than when adversity lowered; her
affection for her parents did not diminish her superior regard to
her Redeemer; and though she now felt still stronger obligations
to please them, yet she regulated the whole of her conduct by the
sacred maxim--"Them that honour me, I will honour, saith the Lord."

It was after her return from the cottage of a poor neighbour,
where she had been administering the consolations of religion to
a young woman about her own age, who was then in the last stage
of consumption, that she sat herself down on a sofa, in perfect
abstraction, unconscious of the presence of her father, who had just
entered the parlour. For some time he felt unwilling to disturb her,
but at length he broke in upon her musings, by asking if she felt
indisposed?

"Oh, no, papa, I am not indisposed; I never enjoyed a finer state of
health, or greater elevation of feeling than I do at this moment. I
have been spending an hour with Jane Thomason, whose happy spirit is
on the eve of departing from this vale of tears. It is beside the
bed of the dying that I feel the degradation and the grandeur of my
nature. There I see what sin has done to disfigure and destroy the
body; and there I see what the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ does
to adorn and dignify the soul."

"Yes, my dear, death is a debt which we must all pay; and I hope we
shall be able to pay it with submission when nature demands it. But
I wish you not to suffer yourself to be too much absorbed by this
subject, as it will depress your spirits. I have long known Jane;
she was always a virtuous girl, and I doubt not but she has made her
peace with her Maker."

"Depress me, father!--No; such a theme of meditation possesses no
depressing tendency. It is true, a momentary tremor will come over
my spirit when I think of the parting scene and the unknown pang of
dying, but it is only a momentary tremor--a passing tribute to the
value of that life which I would spontaneously resign for a more
perfect state of existence, if my heavenly Father required me to do
it."

"But if you incessantly dwell on a future state of existence, I fear
you will neither improve nor enjoy the present. The present has its
duties, which we ought to discharge, and its pleasures, which we
ought to enjoy; and, while we may derive some consolation from the
prospect of a future life, I think we ought not to undervalue the
present."

"To undervalue the present life, my father, would be an insult to
Him who gave it; and to neglect its duties, would be to incur his
righteous displeasure; but when we feel the renovating influence of
Divine grace infusing the principle of spiritual life into the soul,
it will be impossible for us to wish for its endless duration. I
have just been reading a discourse, which says, 'The soul no sooner
receives this new life, than it begins to be filled with hopes and
fears, desires and dispositions, to which, in its fallen state, it
is an entire stranger. It becomes concerned about its own safety,
and conscious of its own dignity. The things of eternity arrest
its attention, and call all its powers into exercise. It thinks,
and feels, and acts, as though it regarded itself born for an
immortal existence--as though it looked on heaven as its home, and
never could be satisfied or happy till it should be engaged in its
services and sharing in its joys.'"

"Well, my dear, I hope, when our earthly pilgrimage is ended, that
we shall meet in heaven; but I must confess that I do not feel
that glow of animation in the prospect of it which you feel. In
looking over the letter I received from you the other day, I was
surprised to find that we differ so little in our religious belief;
and yet, when we converse together, a stranger would imagine that
we are at the distance of the antipodes from each other. We admit
the same truths in theory, but you appear to discover an importance
and an excellence in them which I cannot feel or perceive. They
are invested with a charm in your mind to which I am altogether
insensible. Indeed, there is a mysteriousness connected with their
operation on you which I cannot comprehend. Can you explain it?"

"Our Lord," said Miss Roscoe, "when conversing with his disciples,
who had proposed to him this question, 'Why speakest thou unto
them in parables?' answered, 'It is given unto you to know the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.'
It is evident, from this passage, that the truth which is revealed,
requires some supernatural illumination to enable us to understand
it; and if you search the Scriptures attentively, you will perceive
that this fact is asserted in the most positive and direct terms.
'The natural man' saith the apostle, 'receiveth not the things of
the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he
know them, _because they are spiritually discerned_.'"

"But are we to expect that this supernatural illumination, of
which you speak, will convey to us any truth which is not already
revealed? If so, the revelation is imperfect, and if not, it strikes
me that a supernatural illumination is unnecessary."

"There will be no fresh truth communicated; but without this Divine
illumination we shall not discern the importance and excellence of
that which is revealed. Hence we read of having the eyes of our
understanding enlightened. The psalmist prays thus: 'Open thou mine
eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law!' And the
historian who records the conversion of Lydia, when assigning the
cause of it, says, 'Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended
unto the things which were spoken of Paul.'"

"But as we are endowed with an understanding which is capable of
discriminating between truth and error, I cannot perceive the
necessity of any supernatural assistance. I believe that we are
sinners, and I believe that Jesus Christ died for sinners. I do not
want any supernatural illumination to confirm my belief of these
facts."

"But you want supernatural assistance to invest your belief with
power to impress them on your heart. You may believe that you are a
sinner, and yet you may not see the malignancy of sin, nor yet feel
that deep, poignant sorrow which the Scriptures call repentance. You
may believe that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,
and yet may not perceive how his death accomplishes this great
design."

"But I fear, my dear Sophia, you are now soaring into the region of
mysticism, and are in danger of paying more attention to the visions
of your fancy than to the convictions of your understanding."

"No; a mystical theology is not only inexplicable, but it cannot
be defended by sober and rational argument. Am I offering an
insult to my reason when I beseech the Father of light to illumine
my understanding, and thus enable me to perceive, _not only the
meaning, but the beauty and excellence of the truth which he has
revealed_? And considering the volatility of the mind, how much it
is under the control and dominion of the passions, how rarely it can
abstract itself from sensible objects and pursuits, and what uniform
indifference it manifests to the great questions of personal piety,
shall I be considered as acting irrationally, if I pray that I may
be deeply and permanently affected by the truth which I believe?
O, my father! I can attest from experience that this supernatural
illumination of the mind is the great secret in personal religion.
Without it we are in darkness, while encompassed by the light of
revelation; may admit the inspiration of the Bible, while the veil
of mystery hangs over its sacred pages; may condemn, as Puritanical
or Methodistical, the very principles we theoretically acknowledge
to be divine; and, amidst all our professions of reverence for the
character of God, and love to the person of the Redeemer, may be
destitute of that mental peace which arises from a _scriptural_
belief of the truth."

The conversation now turned on the right which every person
possesses to form his own opinion on religious truth.

"I have been an enemy to free inquiry," said Mr. Roscoe, "but on
maturer reflection I must give up my opposition. Where this liberty
is enjoyed there will be great diversity of opinion, but probably
that will prove less injurious to the practical influence of
religion than a perfect uniformity, which admits of no discussion.
When you and I thought alike on religious questions, my mind was
in a stagnant state; I very rarely thought much or deeply on the
subject; but since you have imbibed your present views my feelings
have been agitated; I have been obliged to re-examine the evidences
of my belief also; and though I cannot agree with you on all points,
yet I begin to see that my knowledge is defective."

"Persecution," Miss Roscoe remarked, "on account of religious
opinions is a cruel crime, and though the apologist has often
attempted to palliate it, and sometimes to justify it, yet it is
nothing less than an outrage on the inalienable rights of man. Who
can compel me to believe any system of opinions? The effort, if
made, would be fruitless, because physical force cannot subdue the
understanding; and if I do believe any system of opinions, who can
compel me to disbelieve? Have I not the same right to exercise my
judgment in the adoption of my belief as another person, and ought I
to be disturbed, especially in this land of freedom, if I claim and
exercise this right?"

"I think not, though our prejudices are so very much in favour of
old established doctrines and customs, that we almost necessarily
feel impelled to interfere and prevent a person, if possible,
abandoning them. A parent, who is a member of the Establishment,
does not like to see his child deserting it, and though a severe
critic may attribute this to the force of prejudice, yet I am not
surprised that it should assume a powerful influence over the
feelings. The religious belief in which we have been educated, whose
rites, and forms, and ceremonies are associated with our earliest
recollections, at whose hallowed altars we have formed the most
sacred of all human alliances, and in whose consecrated earth the
remains of our ancestors are deposited, may be supposed to enkindle,
even in the breast of age, the fire of a youthful attachment; and
it must occasion deep regret to see it forsaken as the child of
superstition or the parent of error."

"I assure you I have no inclination to leave the Establishment,
though, I presume, you will admit that I have a right to do it if I
should think proper."

"Your right is admitted, for I am convinced that we ought not to
attempt to control the judgment of another; but I sincerely hope
that you will never think proper to exercise your right."

"It is not likely that I shall. I am under no temptation to do so.
I admire the liturgy of our church, I approve of her articles;
and though there are imperfections, which a scrutinizing eye may
discover, in her constitution and in some of her ceremonies, yet I
believe that she is as pure as any church of modern times."

"I am happy that your evangelical views of truth have not destroyed
your veneration and esteem for the Establishment, as it would be
a source of great mortification to us if you were to become a
Dissenter."

"I am not acquainted with any Dissenter, except Mr. Lewellin, whom I
have occasionally met at Mr. Stevens's, but our attention has been
so fully engaged by the great and important truths of revelation,
that I have never heard the question of dissent discussed. As
Christians of every denomination will meet together in heaven, and
unite in one common anthem of praise, I think they ought to cherish
the kindest affection for each other; and, instead of suffering the
minor questions of difference, which give a distinctive shade to
their religious character, to keep them in a state of reciprocal
alienation, they ought to 'dwell together as brethren.'"

"But, my dear, I am no advocate for an indiscriminate association of
religious people. 'Evil communications corrupt good manners.' Your
attachment for the church may be weakened if you hold intercourse
with those who dissent from it. There are, I have no doubt, some
wise and good men among the Dissenters; but, as there is _a larger
number of that description among us_, I think you will have no
occasion to wander out of the pale of the church for society."

"It is not, I assure you, my intention to form a large circle of
acquaintance; but I must confess that my mind is too deeply imbued
with the catholic spirit of the gospel, to keep up the separation
which divides those who are united together by ties more sacred
and durable than those of nature or common friendship. The ardour
of my feelings may impel me to become zealous in the cause of
vital godliness, but I feel such an aversion to bigotry, that I do
not think that I shall ever become a bigot. To me the questions
of conformity and non-conformity, of church and dissent, are so
insignificant and worthless, when put into comparison with the vital
Christianity of the Bible, that I dismiss them from my mind. No, my
dear father, I value, more than I value life, the truth which bears
the stamp of Divine authority, and care but little for the opinions
which are alternately admitted and rejected by human authority."

Mrs. Roscoe now entered the parlour; and, after taking her seat, she
expressed the pleasure which she had felt on reading her daughter's
letter; and said she hoped, though they differed on religious
subjects, that in future they should live together in peace. She
assured Miss Roscoe that the trifling opposition they had raised
against her was not intended to wound her feelings; and, as they
were now satisfied of the goodness of her motives, though they
still felt a little regret at the eccentricity of her habits, they
should leave her to pursue the course which her own good sense was
competent to mark out. "We hope you will not object to accompany us
when we visit our friends?"

"Certainly not, mamma, unless it be to a ball or card party. My
religious principles have not alienated me from the pleasures of
social life, though they have given me a distaste for fashionable
amusements."

"Your secession from the fashionable circle," said Mrs. Roscoe,
"has excited both astonishment and regret; and many of your best
friends very much pity you."

"Their astonishment, mamma, does not surprise me; and though I
accept of the expressions of their regret as a proof of their
friendship, yet if they knew the cause and the reasons, they would
be more disposed to offer me their congratulations. I have exchanged
one source of gratification for another; and can attest, from
experience, as I have tried both, that my present is more pure and
more satisfactory than the former."

"Really, my dear, I often wonder what you can see in religion to be
so captivated by it?"

"If, mamma, my mind had not been illuminated by a heavenly light,
I should have seen no attractions in it. I once saw none; and if I
had been told a few years since that I should live to renounce the
gaieties of the world, and embrace the calumniated doctrines of
evangelical piety, I should have trembled in prospect of the issue."

"And I assure you that I even now tremble for the issue. I fear that
you will have your mind so bewildered with your religious notions,
that its energy will be destroyed, and its peace entirely broken up."

"You need not, my dear mamma, give yourself any uneasiness on that
subject. I am happy, more happy than at any former period of my
life; and I have a prospect of future happiness before me. What more
can I desire? I have gained the prize for which all are contending;
and though it has been found within the sacred inclosures of
religion, where I never expected to find it, yet ought I to cast it
from me?"

"Well, my dear Sophia, if you are happy, I will not attempt to
disturb your happiness."

"No," said Mr. Roscoe; "nor shall others. If it has pleased God to
give you a portion of heavenly light, which he has withheld from
us, we will not try to extinguish it. I deeply regret that I ever
reproached you for your religion, or opposed you, for I am now
convinced that the spirit which originates such measures must be
evil. A remark which I met with in a discourse recently published by
a clergyman, has made a deep impression on my mind. He says, when
illustrating the following sentence--'Behold, the devil shall cast
some of you into prison, that ye may be tried'--'It might often
serve to stay the hand of persecution in religion, to consider
who, in fact, sharpens the axe of the executioner, lights the
fires of cruelty, or kindles the still fiercer flames of bigotry
and theological hatred in the soul. It is _his_ work who is 'the
father of lies;' and therefore the natural enemy of the truth is
the author of every plot for its destruction. Consider, therefore,
if you discover even a spark of intolerance and harshness in your
own heart, in what flame that spark is kindled, and make haste to
extinguish it in the waters of love.' When opposing you, my dear
Sophia, I thought I was merely opposing a modern fanaticism; but
it is possible that I have, through ignorance, been opposing the
progress of genuine piety. Ignorance may palliate, but cannot excuse
crime; and I now resolve to let you enjoy unmolested the liberty
of thinking and deciding for yourself on the great question of
religion; and my daily prayer is, that God will be as merciful and
gracious to us, as he has been to you."

Miss Roscoe replied, after she had recovered herself from that
overflow of feeling which such noble sentiments had excited, "I
thank you, I thank you, my dear father, for your kindness. You have
given me many proofs of your attachment, but this last I receive as
the strongest, because I value it as the most sacred. It is to the
influence of others that I always attributed the opposition which
I have met with; and, as I felt conscious that it would die away
upon cool reflection, I endured it as a temporary evil, which would
become productive of a permanent good. Had I met with no opposition,
I should not have enjoyed so much my present liberty; and I trust
that the veil of oblivion will now fall on the past, while a
brighter vision rises on our fancy as we look forward to future
days."

How many have pined away in the dungeon, or expired at the stake,
under the relentless demon of persecution! and though the shield of
the civil law now protects Britons from the tortures which the pious
of former ages had to endure, yet the evil spirit still exists, and
often displays, even in this land of freedom, its unsubdued enmity
against the pure religion of Jesus Christ. It cannot imprison, but
it can reproach; it cannot consume by an instantaneous death, but it
can break down and destroy the vivacity of the mind by the lingering
process of daily sarcasm and misrepresentation; yet, let not the
sufferer compromise his principles, but remain faithful, even unto
death. The angel of the Apocalypse, when assigning the reason why
some of the brethren of Smyrna should be cast into prison, left on
record the design which God has in view by permitting _you to be
afflicted_. "He (_i.e._, the devil) shall cast some of you into
prison that ye may be tried."--"Here, then," to quote the language
of an elegant writer, "if you are the children of God, is the real
end and object of your trials. They are permitted, not in anger, but
in love; not to destroy, but to sanctify; to prove your sincerity,
to try your patience, to ascertain your deficiencies, quicken your
zeal, and stimulate you to confidence, and trust, and prayer, and
love to Him who is 'able to save to the uttermost all that come to
him.' It is thus that our heavenly Father frustrates the devices
of the devil. The very fires lighted by the enemy of saints, serve
only to cherish the graces of the true Christian, to melt down the
irregularities of temper, _to burn in_ and fix all those qualities
which were, perhaps, hitherto sketched but in light and fading
colours on the character. The spirit of persecution may rage against
you, but its duration is fixed. 'Ye shall have tribulation _ten
days_:' and as He, 'whose you are, and whom you serve,' has limited
its duration, so he can abate its violence; and, when his gracious
designs are accomplished, he will deliver you from its power. The
religion of Jesus Christ has often been despised and rejected, even
by those who are her ministers; and sometimes she has been bound in
chains by the kings of the earth, as though she were the destroyer
of human happiness; but she has, in this country, broken asunder
the bands of her captivity, and is enjoying unrestricted liberty.
'May her sceptre sway the enlightened world around.' 'Then shall the
earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us,
God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.'"



SELF-DELUSION.


According to our custom, after the engagements of the day we
retired to the drawing-room, to enjoy the pleasures of social
intercourse. Mr. Stevens having spent the morning in visiting among
scenes of sorrow and distress, our conversation naturally turned
on the subject of human happiness and sorrow. After much varied
discourse, Mr. Roscoe (who formed one of our party) observed, "There
is much misery in the world; and every individual of the human
family is called, at some period of his life, to drink its bitter
draughts; yet, in my opinion, there is a larger portion of happiness
distributed among us than is usually admitted."

"These observations," said Mr. Stevens, "are quite correct; yet
how few wish to live their life over again. Some, who have no hope
of a blissful immortality, would not object to a second birth and
to a second childhood; but in general they would prefer some other
course of life than that which they have run, under a supposition
that they should be able to avoid the evils by which they have been
oppressed, and gain the prize of mental happiness, which they have
never obtained."

"But the reluctance which we may feel to go back to infancy, and
live through our past life is, in my opinion, no substantial
argument against a preponderance of happiness in the world. If we
prefer another course to that which we have run, it is because we
calculate on a fewer number of evils, and a greater portion of
enjoyment; but who would not willingly endure all the miseries which
he has suffered, with the comforts with which he has been favoured,
rather than die and enter the invisible world, where he knows not
what destiny awaits him?"

"If we know not what destiny awaits us in the eternal world,
we ought to prefer the endless continuance of life, even when
associated with the severest afflictions, rather than wish for its
termination; because _here_ the most violent pulsations of anguish
admit of some intermitting seasons of ease; but there, if we miss
the prize, _we shall be cast out into outer darkness, where will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth, and for ever_."

"This subject," said Mr. Roscoe, "at times almost overwhelms me; and
like Job, when in his anguish, I am inclined to say, 'Let the day
perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, there
is a man-child conceived.' But this is useless. I am in being, and
can't go out of existence. I may pass from one world to another, and
sometimes wish to pass the line which separates the unseen from the
visible world, that I may know the final issue; but this is not a
permanent desire. No! the final issue of life is invested with such
solemn and awful grandeur, so much personal and relative happiness
or misery is dependent on it, that I feel either instinctively or
morally afraid to anticipate it. Indeed, I should be a more happy
man if I could disbelieve the immortality of the soul. Yes, I
should. I could enjoy life; and though I might feel some occasional
regret in prospect of ceasing to exist, yet then I should escape the
awful sense of horror which sometimes fills my mind in the fearful
apprehensions of future degradation and misery."

"I have thought," said Mr. Stevens, "from our former conversations,
that you had no doubt of a state of future happiness."

"Very true, I once had no doubt, but then I never thought deeply
on the subject. I felt confident that I should enter heaven, and
participate in the joys of the blessed, immediately after my
decease; but then I was under the power of that self-delusion
which you so often entreated me to guard against. I sometimes
felt a momentary elation in anticipation of seeing the beauty and
grandeur of the heavenly world; but when I began to examine the
foundation of my confidence, I found it giving way. I thought that
the Supreme Being could not, consistently with his benevolence,
inflict punishment in another world for the sins committed in this;
and that the conscientious discharge of our relative duties towards
each other, constituted the whole extent of our obligations to him.
Hence I necessarily expected a state of future happiness; but, by
a closer examination of the Scriptures, I am convinced that he has
appointed a day in which the administration of justice will be
conducted impartially; when the motives of human action, as well as
the actions of human life, will undergo a strict investigation, and
we shall be rewarded or punished according as we have done good or
evil."

"This is a very important discovery, and may be regarded as the
beginning of a great change in your religious opinions--a change
which may lead to the most happy results."

"But can such a discovery, which has plunged me into an abyss of
terrific horror, ever lead to any favourable issue?"

"Yes, Sir, it can. It is the discovery of our guilt and our danger
that predisposes and impels us to receive the Christian faith as
exactly adapted to our moral condition. Until this discovery is
made, the scheme of salvation which is revealed in the Bible may be
contemplated as true, without being _felt as necessary_; and the
mind, perplexed and bewildered by the speculative doctrines of its
own belief, may admit them in theory, and yet reject their practical
application. But when we feel our guilt, and perceive the moral
danger to which it inevitably exposes us, we necessarily ask the
question which the jailer of Philippi once put to the apostle, 'What
must I do to be saved?' Will a person ever put such a question till
he _feels_ that he is in danger of being lost?"

"Certainly not; but when he _does feel_ that danger, the question
becomes not only proper, but one of paramount importance. And what
MUST we do?"

"As you have admitted the importance of the question, I at once
reply to it, and do so by quoting the language which the apostle
used when it was proposed to him--'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
and thou shalt be saved.' This reply corresponds with the language
of Jesus Christ himself, who says, 'God so loved the world, that
he gave his only begotten Son, that _whosoever believeth in him_
should not perish, but have everlasting life.' Hence you perceive
that _our salvation is made to depend on our belief in Christ_; but
it must be obvious to you that it must be such a belief as will
produce a practical effect. Not a vague and inoperative assent,
which leaves the mind in a state of moral apathy, neither alarmed by
a perception of danger, nor delighted by the promise of deliverance;
but that strong faith in the efficacy of the Saviour's death, and
his willingness to save, which will impel us to make a direct and a
constant appeal to him."

"I am aware that a change is taking place in my religious opinions,
or rather, that my religious opinions are beginning to produce a
deeper impression in my heart; but my happiness is not increased
by it. Indeed, I cannot account for the singular restlessness and
depression of my mind. I once could pray with ease and pleasure;
but now, if I make the effort, I cannot do it. I once had great
delight in reading the Scriptures, but now I cannot understand them.
The more I read and reflect, the deeper I am involved in mental
perplexity; and such is the perturbed state of my feelings, that
unless it please God to interpose, and give me some relief, I shall
be lost."

As he gave utterance to these expressions, we were no less
astonished than delighted; and the rapid interchange of looks,
seemed to indicate a positive mistrust of our senses. A perfect
silence prevailed among us for some minutes, while each one felt
grateful to _Him_ who was in the act of redeeming a noble spirit
from the bondage of ignorance and self-delusion, by pouring into the
recesses of his soul the light of truth. At length Mr. Stevens said,
with an emphasis which I shall never forget,

"Permit me, my dear Sir, to offer you my congratulations. Your
present depression is to me a source of unutterable joy. Your spirit
is wounded by an unseen hand; but there is balm in Gilead--there is
a Physician there. You are involved in a state of mental perplexity,
which increases in proportion as you labour to extricate yourself;
but the day-star will ere long arise in your heart, and then, under
the light of a clear manifestation of the truth, you will not only
see its beauties, but feel its moral power. You may be tempted to
conclude that your case is singular, and that you shall never be
able to derive any consolation from the promises of the Bible; but
you must guard against receiving such an impression; and remember
that _He_ who, when on earth, opened the eyes of the blind, and
made the dumb to sing, and _He alone_, can give you that spiritual
discernment which constitutes the essential difference between a
real and a nominal Christian."

Mr. Roscoe felt somewhat embarrassed by this powerful appeal; but
recovering himself, and assuming his natural dignity of manner, he
said, in a subdued tone, "I have much to unlearn, and much to learn,
before I can become a real Christian. The following passage, in
one of St. Paul's epistles, has often puzzled me, but now I begin
to understand its meaning: '_Let no man deceive himself. If any
man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a
fool, that he may be wise_.' I once thought that I could acquire
a knowledge of the theory of revealed truth by the mere effort of
intellectual research and investigation, as we acquire a knowledge
of any human science; and perhaps few men have devoted more time
to the study of it than myself; but I have hitherto neglected to
implore wisdom from above, because I did not think it necessary. And
the result of all my mental application is a painful discovery of
my own ignorance, and even this was not made till I saw my danger.
My dear Sophia has often told me that a Divine illumination of the
mind is the great secret in personal religion; but I could form no
conception of her meaning. Such a sentiment appeared to me not only
_unnecessary_, but absurd; and I often feared, when she has been
speaking on this subject, that her understanding was bewildered
amidst the unintelligible reveries of a mystical theology.
Sometimes, it is true, her arguments would be attended with so much
force and skill that she has compelled me to change the subject of
debate; but on a recent occasion, when she quoted the passage, 'But
the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for
they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because
they are spiritually discerned,' it made so deep an impression upon
my heart, that from that hour to the present I have undergone a
perpetual conflict between my prejudices and convictions."

Mr. Roscoe had engaged to return home early in the evening, and now
withdrew, but not without expressing the great pleasure which the
conversation had afforded him, and making us promise that we would
spend an evening at his house in the following week.

Mr. Stevens and I walked with him the greater part of the way home.
It was a lovely evening. The moon was just rising above the top of
a distant hill; and, as we were entering the grove, we lingered to
listen to the songs of the nightingales responding to each other.

"Here is melody," said Mr. Roscoe. "Here is the song of innocence.
Here is sweet contentment. And why is the bird of night more happy
than man? Ah! why?"

"Because," said Mr. Stevens, "man is fallen from that state of
purity and honour in which he was created, and it is wisely ordained
that misery shall be the consequence of sin." We now bade him adieu.

On our return, Mrs. Stevens said, "I should like to send a note to
Miss Roscoe, to tell her the nature of our conversation with her
father. Dear creature, it will make her so glad."

"I think you had better defer doing so till to-morrow; and even then
I would advise you to avoid precipitancy. Her mind has recently been
under very strong excitement, and as such news will necessarily
produce a powerful effect, great prudence is needful on your part in
making this communication. As she has to pass from the deepest
anxiety to the most elevated joy, she ought not to be startled
by a hasty communication; it should be made cautiously, that the
transition of feeling may be gradual, instead of rushing in upon her
with overpowering force."

[Illustration: "IT WAS A LOVELY EVENING. THE MOON WAS JUST RISING AS
WE ENTERED THE GROVE."

Vol. i. page 262.]

"Perhaps, when he sees her, he will make some allusion to the
subject of our conversation, which may lead to an entire disclosure
of the state of his feelings. What a change! How surprising! I seem
as if I were suddenly roused from an enchanting dream."

"Yes, my dear," said Mr. Stevens, "it is surprising that the Lord of
glory should condescend to subdue the enmity of the human heart, and
thus make the child of disobedience an heir of glory; but it ought
not to surprise us. If we look back, we shall remember the time
when to us the theatre possessed more attractions than the house
of God, and the follies of gay life gave us more delight than the
exercises of devotion; 'but God, who is rich in mercy, for his great
love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath
quickened us together with Christ (by grace are we saved), and hath
raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places
in Christ Jesus.'"

"If," said Mrs. Stevens, "Mr. Roscoe should come forth a _decided
character_, it will make a powerful impression on his irreligious
friends. Surely they will not be able to withstand the force of
such a striking evidence in favour of the divine origin of the
Christian faith--why, it is a self-evident demonstration. I begin to
anticipate the happiest results."

"But, my dear, you must not be too sanguine; Mr. Roscoe may not come
forth _so soon, nor so decidedly_, as you anticipate. Though I trust
the great moral change has taken place which distinguishes the real
from the nominal Christian, yet, as his mind is of a very singular
order, we may conclude it will still retain its individuality, and
develope its new qualities with that precision and precaution which
are its distinctive characteristics. We may calculate on decision,
but not rash or hasty decision; on energy, but not much ardent
zeal; and on unbending integrity and unremitting constancy; but
his progression is likely to be that of a man moving onwards with
the dignity of principle, rather than under the impulse of strong
passion."

"But do you not suppose that he will go to Broadhurst, and hear our
dear Mr. Ingleby next Sabbath?"

"Certainly not; you are not to conclude, from the conversation of
this evening, that he yet sees the truth with perfect clearness.
No, he rather resembles the man of whom we read in the gospel, who,
when the mystic power commenced its mighty operation, saw men so
indistinctly that they appeared 'like trees walking.' The film is
but partially removed from the eye of his understanding; and though
he has the power of spiritual discernment, yet not perfectly. And
such is the degree of influence which prejudice, and family, and
social connections may still have over his mind, that probably he
will not very soon break through his long-established habits, and
mingle among us as one of our own people. Indeed, I hardly wish it;
because it will be so extraordinary, that it would be considered as
a religious mania, taken as by some kind of mysterious infection,
rather than the positive result of deep thought, and cool and
deliberate judgment. Oh, no; minds, when under the dominion of
grace, are usually governed according to the settled laws of their
own constitution; and hence the difference of conduct, in relation
to an open profession of religion, which is so apparent among the
heirs of salvation."

"I am sure Mr. Ingleby will be delighted to hear of it. I have
often heard him say, that the conversion of a moral man to the
faith of Christ is a more decisive proof of the efficacy of Divine
truth, than the conversion of an immoral man, and a much more rare
occurrence."

"Yes, my dear, it is more rare, and more difficult, because it is
not so easy to convince of mental sin as of an overt act of impiety;
but I do not wish that there should be even the most distant
allusion made on the subject to any one but Miss Roscoe."

"My dear, you surprise me."

"Perhaps I may, but I think you will be satisfied with my reasons
for wishing silence to be observed. If we hastily proclaim to
our friends that Mr. Roscoe has undergone a great change in his
religious opinions and principles, we may raise expectations which
his cautious habit of mind may disappoint, at least for a season,
and thus bring on ourselves the censures of some, for stating as a
fact what we merely wish to be true. And not only so, but we shall
deprive his decision of that power of impression which I think it
will ultimately possess. For if we are more forward to speak of such
a mental change than he is to profess it, we may be considered as
the originators of it; and in that case his example will not have
such a powerful influence over his irreligious friends, as it will
have if it appear to be the result, as I expect it will, of calm
deliberation. He will move with great caution, and we should speak
with equal caution."

"What effect do you think his conversion will have on Mrs. Roscoe?"

"Why, unless it should please God to interpose, and bring her to
the knowledge of the truth, I have no doubt but it will be regarded
by her as some astounding and destructive visitation, sent by an
unknown hand to destroy her happiness for life. She is but partially
reconciled to the piety of her daughter; and, even now, expresses
not only her surprise, but her deep regret; and if her husband
become pious (as I have no doubt but he will), though she may
endeavour to conform herself to his religious habits, yet it will be
with extreme reluctance. But perhaps by his conversation, and the
dignified consistency of his conduct, he may succeed in process of
time, in answer to his own fervent prayers and the wrestling prayers
of dear Sophia, in winning her to Christ."

"It is possible, nay, very probable, as prayer will be made for her
continually; and the prayer of faith brings to pass moral wonders.
We may live to hail them both as fellow-heirs of the grace of life."

"What a blissful consummation!"



A NIGHT CALAMITY.


Near Fairmount Villa stood a tasteful cottage, which Mr. Stevens had
erected as a means of giving additional security to his premises. It
was occupied by a worthy man, named Josiah Hargrave, who gained his
livelihood as a common carrier. He had commenced life as a labourer;
and, by honest industry and perseverance, had risen to a state of
comparative independence. His cottage was well furnished; he had two
cows, a good horse and cart, a donkey, a large stock of poultry,
some pigs, and hay and straw enough to last him through winter. He
had been married about seven years; and had three children, two sons
and a daughter. Here they lived in peace and contentment, neither
envying their richer, nor despising their poorer neighbours.

I called on them one day; and, when congratulating them on their
prosperity, I was struck with the very sensible remarks which Mrs.
Hargrave made on the uncertain duration of all earthly blessings.

"Our heavenly Father," she observed, "has blessed us indeed; He has
given us more than we deserve, and more than we expected; and He,
who has given us all, can, if He please, take all away."

"Yes, He can; and suppose He should deprive you of your little
possessions, do you think you could bow in submission, and say,
'_Thy will be done_?'"

"Yes, Sir, if He give the disposition; but if not, we should repine."

"Ah! Sir," Josiah remarked, "we are poor sinful creatures. In
prosperity we are ungrateful, and in adversity rebellious, unless it
please the Lord to sanctify to us His dispensations."

"Which state," I asked, "should you prefer, if it were left to your
choice--prosperity or adversity?"

"Why," said Josiah, "I would rather let my heavenly Father choose
for me, than venture to choose for myself, because He cannot err;
but I may. Prosperity, without His blessing, would be a snare;
adversity, with it, would be a comfort."

We were interrupted in our conversation by the sudden entrance of
the eldest boy, a lad about five years of age, who exclaimed, "I
have said my hymn! and,"----before he saw me.

"Come," said the mother, "go and speak to the gentleman."

"Yes," added the father, "and say your hymn to him."

The boy approached with a modest blush, and immediately repeated the
following verses, with ease and propriety:--

    "I thank the goodness and the grace,
       Which on my birth have smil'd,
     And made me, in these Christian days,
       A happy English child.

    "I was not born, as thousands are,
       Where God was never known,
     And taught to pray a useless pray'r
       To blocks of wood and stone.

    "I was not born a little slave,
       To labour in the sun,
     And wish I were but in the grave,
       And all my labour done.

    "I was not born without a home,
       Or in some broken shed,
     A gipsy baby, taught to roam
       And steal my daily bread.

    "My God, I thank thee, who hast plann'd
       A better lot for me;
     And placed me in this happy land,
       Where I may hear of thee."

He repeated also the third chapter of the Gospel according to John,
without making any mistake.

"And where does your boy go to school?"

"He goes," said Josiah, "to Mrs. Stevens's Sabbath-school; and, for
the last six months, he has been twice in the week up to Squire
Roscoe's; and Miss Roscoe has been so kind as to teach him."

"There was a time," I remarked, "when the rich were either too
proud, or too much devoted to the pleasures of the world, to attend
to the improvement of the lower classes; but now they discover
a disposition to favour almost every institution which pure
benevolence establishes."

"Yes, Sir," said Josiah, "some do; but not all. We have a few in
the parish who are very angry with Mrs. Stevens for setting up her
Sabbath-school; and they have tried to put it down; but, thank
God, they have not been able to do it. We have but little light;
and why should they try to put it out? I went the other day up to
Cleveland Hall, and Sir Harry Wilmot, who was a great enemy to Mrs.
Stevens's Sabbath-school, was pleased to say that my Charles was a
very sharp and well-behaved lad, and did us credit. 'Yes, Sir,' I
replied, 'and we may thank Mrs. Stevens for that; for if she had not
opened her Sunday-school, our boy would be as rude and as ignorant
as other boys.' 'What!' said Sir Harry, 'does your boy go to her
school?' 'Yes, Sir.' He was silent some time, and walked backwards
and forwards his room, and then went to his bureau, and took out a
pound, and said, 'Make my compliments to Mrs. Stevens, and give her
this towards the support of her school; and tell her that as long as
I see such fruits of her labour, I will encourage them.'"

"It is pleasing," I remarked, "to see the prejudices which some of
the more opulent and powerful have cherished against the benevolent
institutions of society, giving way; and I have no doubt but they
will ultimately become the generous supporters of them."

       *       *       *       *       *

We had protracted our conversation at Fairmount to an unusually
late hour, and were preparing to retire to rest, when we heard the
cry of "Fire!" We immediately rushed out, and, on passing through
the back yard, we saw the flames issuing from Hargrave's cottage.
We hastened to afford assistance; but as the wind blew hard, and we
had no engine, it was impossible to save more than a few articles of
furniture. It was a dismal scene; I shall never forget that awful
night. The mother, with one child in her arms, and another by her
side, with difficulty made their escape; and Josiah, in trying to
remove his poor dumb ass from the shed, which stood close behind the
cottage, was severely scorched; and, though he returned again and
again, he was obliged to abandon her.

At length the fury of the wind abated, the rain came down in
torrents, and the neighbours, flocking to our assistance, we were
able, within the space of about two hours, to extinguish the fire.
We now turned our attention to the poor sufferers, who had taken
refuge in the villa. On entering the kitchen, I beheld Mrs. Hargrave
with her infant in her arms, Charles standing close by her chair,
and her husband reclining against the wall, as the surgeon was
examining his wounds. When they were dressed, and the terror had
somewhat subsided, Josiah said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has
taken away, but, blessed be his name, he hath not taken away my wife
nor my children."

"There are," said Mr. Stevens, "some circumstances connected with
every affliction which take off their keen edge, and give a stronger
excitement to our gratitude, than to a murmuring disposition."

"But," said Josiah, as he stood gazing on the living wreck of his
possession, "where is Henry? I don't see him."

"Where did you carry him?" said the mother. "You took him up and ran
out with him, when I came out with Charles and Ann."

"I have not seen him," said Josiah.

The mother, on hearing this reply, darted from her seat, exclaiming,
with a look and in a tone of frantic agony, "My Henry is burnt! my
Henry is burnt! O, my Henry! my poor dear Henry! I shall never see
him again!" This subdued the firmness of Josiah; but he could not
weep. He looked like a man bereft of his reason. He fell back in a
chair, and said, "Alas! my poor dear Henry!" This scene of parental
anguish was too much for Mrs. Stevens; and, though she bore up for
a time, and endeavoured, by efforts of kindness, to allay their
sorrow, yet she was obliged at length to retire.

[Illustration: THE LOST CHILD RESTORED.

Vol. i. page 270.]

As the mother was again exclaiming, "O, my poor Henry! I shall never
see him again!" the gardener entered the kitchen with Henry, and
said, "Here he is, safe and sound!" The father sprang up as with
the rapidity of thought; the mother rushed across the room, and
they both seized the child, as though each was afraid to let the
other touch him. But after the first maternal kiss had been given
to little Henry, who knew nothing of what had been passing, she
suffered her husband to take him, as she still held her infant in
her arms, and they both sat down, with their Charles between them,
while the inmates of the villa pressed round to participate in their
joy.

"And is it you, my Henry?" said the mother. "Kiss me, my boy."

"Kiss me, Henry," said Charles.

We now shed tears of gratitude, and after recovering ourselves from
this agitating excitement, I asked the gardener where he found the
child.

"I found him, Sir, asleep between two trusses of hay in Master
Hargrave's stable."

"O, I now recollect!" said Josiah. "I carried him and put him in the
stable when the fire broke out, as I knew he would be safe there,
but I had forgotten it."

Early in the morning I hastened to the ruins, where I found Josiah
and his wife examining the extent of their loss.

"This has been to you a night which will never be forgotten."

"Very true, Sir," said Mrs. Hargrave, "we never had so many mercies
crowded within such a short space of time. What a mercy that we
were not consumed, that none of our children were burnt, and that
the horse and cart are not injured, so that Josiah can go on in his
business; we can sing of mercy as well as of judgment."

"Ah! Sir," said Josiah, "what a mercy that, though we have lost some
of our little property, yet we have not lost any property but what
was our own. The Lord gave it to us, and now He has been pleased to
take it away, but He has not taken all. He has spared more than I
expected, and much more than we deserved."

"It will be a long time before you will be able to repair this loss."

"Yes, it will; but you know, Sir, that it is 'the blessing of the
Lord that maketh rich.' This trial is sent to moderate our desires
after the things that perish, to teach us to walk by faith, and to
derive our happiness from communion with Him who is invisible."

As we were conversing together, Mr. Stevens came up, and taking
Josiah by the hand, said, "Don't be cast down, I will have the
cottage repaired immediately, and till it is finished, you shall
have my other cottage at the grove, which happens to be vacant."

"Thank you, Sir, for your kindness; I hope Mrs. Stevens is well this
morning?"

"She is not well; she has had a bad night."

Several of the more respectable inhabitants of the village now
joined us in their expressions of sympathy; and it was unanimously
resolved that a subscription should be made for the benefit of the
Hargraves. "Gentlemen," said Mr. Roscoe, "I shall be happy to see
you at my house in the evening. In the meantime we shall be able to
ascertain the extent of this good man's loss, and then we can adopt
some effectual measures to repair it."

There is a kind provision made for the children of sorrow in that
sympathy which is implanted in almost every breast. Who can avoid
its excitement when an object of distress is seen, or a tale of woe
narrated? Yet there are some who will weep over misery, but will
make no personal sacrifice to relieve it. They will talk, but they
will not give. They will recommend to others the benevolence which
they never practise; and profess to admire the virtue which they
are not anxious should adorn their own character. "But," says the
apostle, "whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have
need, and shutteth his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth
the love of God in him?"

The loss which Josiah Hargrave sustained by the fire, amounted
to about thirty pounds; and Mr. Roscoe consented, at the urgent
request of the gentlemen who met at his house, to accompany Mr.
Stevens in soliciting the benevolence of the neighbours towards
repairing it. They commenced their work of mercy on the following
morning, and finished it in the course of the day. The first person
they called on was the Rev. Mr. Cole, the rector of the parish,
and he refused to contribute, because Hargrave chose to attend the
ministry of Mr. Ingleby in preference to his own.

"This refusal," said Mr. Roscoe to his friend, "does not surprise
me, but it grieves me. Mr. Cole is an amiable man, but he is, what I
once was, a religious bigot; and though he is very charitable to the
poor, yet his charity is confined to those who come to his church."

"We may," said Mr. Stevens, "call his charity the charity of
bigotry, not the charity of the gospel."

"I was once taking tea with him, when a poor woman, near the time of
her confinement, applied to him for relief; but when he found that
she attended your chapel, he first reproved her, and then dismissed
her without giving her any assistance."

"But perhaps he thought she was an impostor?"

"No, Sir, she brought with her a note of recommendation from your
friend, Mr. Stone."

"And is it possible that a man, who professes to be a minister of
Jesus Christ, could refuse to assist a poor woman in such a time of
need, because she does not attend his church? Then, I suppose, if he
had been passing by Josiah Hargrave's house when the fire broke out,
his first inquiry would have been, Do you attend my church?--and on
finding that he hears Mr. Ingleby, he would have gone on, and left
him to perish."

"No, no; I think he would have knocked you up, and sent you to
assist him, because his argument is, 'Let those who imbibe the same
faith, assist each other.'"

"A similar argument was employed by the priest and Levite, when they
passed by on the opposite side of the road, disdaining to do more
than merely look on the wounded traveller; but the good Samaritan,
whose breast glowed with pure benevolence, 'when he saw him he had
compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring
in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to
an inn, and took care of him.' And are we not commanded to display
the same comprehensive benevolence, without standing to consider
the character of the sufferer, or presuming to inquire into the
orthodoxy of his faith?"

"I was much pleased with a little anecdote which I heard the other
day, of your friend Stone. A person applied to him on behalf of a
poor man in great distress. He was in a hurry, and had no money
with him. 'I cannot,' he said, 'examine the case now, as I have a
gentleman waiting to see me; but, if the poor man belong to the
household of faith, I will thank you to advance ten shillings for
me; if not, advance five. My maxim is, according to the law of the
Scripture, to do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of
the household of faith.'"

The subscription which was raised by Mr. Stevens and Mr. Roscoe,
with the remittances received from the Rev. Messrs. Ingleby and
Guion, amounted to nearly fifty pounds, and this was given by
Mr. Stevens to Josiah, who was so overcome by this unanticipated
expression of sympathy, that at first he could scarcely speak. He
modestly requested Mr. Stevens to express his grateful thanks, and
those of his wife, to his benevolent friends, assuring them that
they would endeavour, by future conduct, to prove how deeply they
felt this unexpected kindness.

Within the space of three months Hargrave returned to his cottage,
with his family, a richer if not a happier man than before the fire
drove him out; and there he lived for many years, respected and
beloved by all who knew him.

If we say that afflictions spring up by chance, or are brought
about merely by secondary causes, which are not under the guidance
and control of God, we not only reject the authority of the Bible,
but deprive ourselves of the consolation which follows from a firm
belief that the design for which they are sent is merciful and
gracious. If the sufferer should suppose that his afflictions are
of such a peculiar nature that they cannot possibly answer any
good purpose, I would say, Do not impeach the wisdom of God, nor
yet presume to fix limitations to the operations of his power. If
you have never yet repented of your sins, nor sought the salvation
of your soul through the mediation of Jesus Christ, your trials
may be sent to prepare your heart for the reception of the truth,
by which you are to be sanctified and saved. As the gentle rain,
descending from the clouds of heaven, fits the soil for the seed
which it is to nourish for a future harvest, so it pleases God, in
the dispensations of his providence, to allow those painful events
to transpire, which, imperceptibly, predispose the mind, first,
to bow in submission to his authority, and then to seek after the
enjoyment of his favour. There is a native independence in some
minds, which, in relation to man, is a high and noble virtue, but
in relation to God, is a daring sin. When one is made rich, and the
glory of his house is increased, he is sometimes apt to think, if
not to say, "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And
what profit should we have if we pray unto him?" What is this but
absolute rebellion against Divine authority, which must be subdued;
and, if it please Him to employ severe and varied afflictions to
subdue it, then "why should a living man complain--a man for the
punishment of his sins?" "Should we not," says an admired writer,
"principally value that which is morally good for us; that which
influences and secures our eternal welfare; that by which the safety
of the soul is least endangered, and the sanctification of the soul
is most promoted!" Upon this principle many have had reason to say,
"It is good for me that I have been afflicted." "Disease," says
one, "commissioned from above, sought me out, found me in a crowd,
detached me from a multitude, led me into a chamber of solitude,
stretched me upon a bed of languishing, and brought before me the
awful realities of an eternal world." "I never prayed before," says
another; "my life was bound up in a beloved relative; I saw my gourd
smitten and beginning to wither; I trembled; I watched the progress
of a disease which doomed all my happiness to the grave. In that
moment of bereavement, the world, which had won my affections, was
suddenly deprived of all its attractions. I broke from the arms of
sympathizing friends, saying, 'Where is God, my Maker, that giveth
songs in the night?' I entered my closet, and said, 'Now, Lord, what
wait I for? My hope is in thee.'"

Misery seems to possess one of the attributes of the Supreme Being,
and is everywhere present, inflicting its anguish in every human
breast. No situation in life, however elevated, is above its reach;
none, however obscure, is beneath its notice. It goes up to the
throne, and disturbs the peace of the monarch; it creeps into the
lonely hut, wringing the heart of poverty; nor can the tears of
penury, nor the moans of distress, move its pity. It fastens on the
babe in the days of infancy; follows him through the various stages
of childhood and of youth; becomes a more intimate associate as he
advances in life, but often reserves its most poignant inflictions
and its bitterest draughts till old age, when the mind is bereft of
its vivacity and strength. It lurks beneath the most fascinating
objects of delight, and springs out at a season when no danger is
expected; sometimes it throws around itself the garb of complacency,
and, under the appearance of the truest friendship and the purest
affection, disarms suspicion, that it may more effectually entangle
its victim.

Where can we find an antidote for human misery? Not in the
speculations of philosophy. Philosophy tells us that we must endure
our sufferings, because we cannot avoid them; and that it would
be visionary to expect an entire exemption from them in a world
in which they everywhere abound. Miserable comforter! I need some
substantial relief, some prop on which I can lean in the days of
adversity. Where shall I find it?--in human friendship? Alas! that
is too often a phantom of the imagination, which plays before the
fancy while prosperity shines on my pathway, but disappears as the
storm arises, and the darkness of the night falls upon me. I need a
more stable source of consolation. Where shall I find it? "In sweet
submission to thy will, O my God!" Here is bliss. Here I find joy
in grief. Here I have the bitter waters of life made sweet, the
heavy burden of care lightened, and my strength becomes equal to my
day.



A SURPRISE.


The indisposition of Mrs. Stevens increased, and became more and
more alarming; she was soon confined to her room, then to her bed;
and her life was considered in imminent danger. The fever rose
so high that she became somewhat delirious, but even then, while
her fancy wandered amidst the wild scenes of her own imaginative
creation, she spoke with rapture of her approaching dissolution.
On one occasion, as I entered her room, she raised herself up, and
sang, with a strong yet softened melody of voice:

    "Lord, what are all my suff'rings here,
       If thou but make me meet,
     With that enraptur'd host t' appear,
       And worship at thy feet!"

At length, while we were silently watching the progress of a
disorder which was threatening to take from us one of the most
interesting and amiable of women, it pleased the Father of mercies
to throw her into a deep sleep, which lasted many hours. In the
morning she awoke both revived and composed; and, after asking for
Mr. Stevens, she requested some refreshment. Thus the cloud which
had been hanging over us with such a lowering aspect, now gradually
dispersed; and, in a few days, she was pronounced out of danger. "I
thought at one time," she said, addressing herself to her husband,
"I should have left you. I felt the parting pang; and it was such
a pang as my heart never felt before. I looked into the valley
of death; and though the light of life illumined it, yet nature
recoiled at the prospect of entering. I had no doubt of the issue of
dying, but I dreaded the act of dying. But now I am coming back to
life. Oh! that my life may be more devoted to Him who lived and died
for me!"

Miss Roscoe had left home the morning after the fire at Hargrave's
cottage, to spend a few days with her friend, Miss Holmes, but as
soon as she heard of Mrs. Stevens's illness, she returned. "I am
happy to see you once more," said Mrs. Stevens. "This is a pleasure
which I did not anticipate. How uncertain is life!"

"Life is uncertain," replied Miss Roscoe, "but they who believe in
Christ shall never die. They may, in the progress of their being,
drop their mantle of mortality, as the insect leaves his shell, when
he expands into a more beautiful form of existence; but the soul,
redeemed by the blood, and purified by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus,
'liveth and abideth for ever.' I hope your mind has been kept in
perfect peace during your severe affliction."

"It has been kept in peace, but not in perfect peace. On the second
day, when my disorder assumed a threatening aspect, a horror
of great darkness fell upon me. I was compelled to admit the
possibility of having deceived myself--of having claimed privileges
to which I had no title--of having mistaken the excitement of
feeling for the fervour of spiritual devotion--of having indulged
prospects which I should never realize. But, just as I was beginning
to sink into despair, the light of mercy broke in upon me, and
revived my hope. Never, oh! never had I seen such beauty as I then
perceived in the verses--

    'Jesu! lover of my soul,
      Let me to thy bosom fly,
    While the billows near me roll,
      While the tempest still is high:

    'Hide me, O my Saviour! hide--
      Till the storm of life is past;
    Safe into the haven guide;
      O receive my soul at last.'"

"It is consoling to meet with others who are exercised in a similar
way with ourselves. I thought your faith was too strong ever to
stagger, and your prospect of eternal life too clear ever to be
shaded by dubious uncertainty; but now, I perceive, you can doubt,
which encourages me to hope that my faith may be genuine, though it
is sometimes involved in perplexity, and sinks into depression."

"Have you," Mrs. Stevens asked, "had any recent conversation with
your papa on religious subjects?"

"Not very recently, because he has manifested a more than ordinary
degree of reserve when there has been any allusion to them, and
therefore I have judged it proper to observe great caution while his
prejudices are in such a state."

"But may not this reserve on his part be the solemn musings of a
mind deeply impressed by the truth, which has hitherto been either
misunderstood or rejected?"

"I should be happy if I could put such a favourable construction on
his manner; but I fear not."

"Our favourite poet says:--

    'Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
      The clouds ye so much dread,
    Are big with mercy, and shall break
      In blessings on your head.'

Allow me, my dear friend, to offer you my congratulations. Your
prayers, I hope, are answered; and you may go home, and embrace your
father as a 'fellow-heir of the grace of life.'"

"If I could, the sun of my bliss would never go down; but, alas! I
fear that you congratulate me on what we wish to be true, rather
than on what actually is the case."

"My dear, I speak what I believe."

"Impossible! Has he made any particular communication to you, which
enables you to speak in such a decisive tone?--if so, tell me, my
dear friend, what you know. I am impatient to hear it."

"The evening before Josiah's cottage was consumed, your father
spent some hours with us, and seemed not only willing, but anxious
to converse on religious subjects. At one time, he was affected
almost to tears, when he said, 'My dear Sophia has often told me
that a Divine illumination of mind is the great secret in personal
religion; and on one occasion, when she quoted the words of the
apostle, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of
God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned," she made an impression on
my mind which has never left me.' Thus God has not only subdued the
prejudices of your father's heart against the truth, and opened the
eyes of his understanding to see its excellence and importance, but
has employed you as the agent in the accomplishment of this great
work."

After recovering herself from the surprise which this communication
produced, she said, "I feel as if enjoying a most pleasant dream--my
fancy beguiled and deluded by its own visionary conceptions--not
less surprised than delighted to find myself awake--with
you--listening to the most joyful news that could be conveyed to
my soul." She wept. "And is it possible?--Is it true?--What, my
father!--Excuse me; I must go, that I may hear these glad tidings
from his own lips."

On the following Sabbath Mrs. Stevens was so far recovered as to be
able to go to church, where she expected to see the Roscoes; but she
was disappointed. "I fear," she remarked to her husband, as they
were returning home, "that Mr. Roscoe will not become a decided
character; but I hope he will not neutralize our dear Sophia."

"He will proceed, I have no doubt, very cautiously; examine and
re-examine every step he takes; but when the Rubicon is passed,
there will be no fruitless attempts to unite religion and the world,
but an unreserved devotion of soul to God."

In the evening Miss Roscoe was at the chapel, and after service
called at Fairmount to see her friends.

"It is true," she said; "my dear father is at length brought to
know that he is a sinner, and to feel the importance of redemption
through the blood of Christ. I went with him in the morning to hear
the Rev. Mr. Cole, with whose sermon he was not so well pleased as
on some former occasions; and he would have accompanied me this
evening, had it not been for mamma, who most earnestly requested him
not to go."

       *       *       *       *       *

The evening came when we were to pay our promised visit to the
Roscoes, and just as we were about to set out, the Rev. Mr. Guion
arrived. When he found where we were going, he proposed returning
home; but Mrs. Stevens said, "No, no; you must accompany us. You may
be the means of doing some good; and I think your Master has sent
you for that purpose."

Mr. Roscoe gave us a cordial welcome; but when the name of Guion was
announced, Mrs. Roscoe drew back with a very polite movement, and
became unusually reserved. Conversation flagged, till Mr. Roscoe
mentioned that he had been reading Buchanan's _Christian Researches
in Asia_, and called our attention to some passages, which had much
interested him:--

"I have returned home," says the writer, "from witnessing a scene
which I shall never forget. At twelve o'clock of this day, being
the great day of the feast, the Moloch of Hindoostan was brought
out of his temple, amidst the acclamations of hundreds of thousands
of his worshippers. When the idol was placed on his throne, a shout
was raised by the multitude, such as I had never before heard.
It continued equable for a few minutes, and then gradually died
away. After a short interval of silence, a murmur was heard at a
distance; all eyes were turned towards the place, and behold, a
_grove_ advancing! A body of men, having green branches in their
hands, approached with great celerity. The people opened a way for
them; and when they had come up to the throne, they fell down before
him that sat thereon, and worshipped. And the multitude again sent
forth a voice like the sound of a great thunder. But the voices I
now heard were not those of melody; for there is no harmony in the
praise of Moloch's worshippers.

"The throne of the idol was placed on a car, about sixty feet in
height, resting on wheels which indented the ground deeply, as they
turned slowly under the ponderous machine. Attached to it were
six cables, by which the people drew it along. Upon the car were
the priests and satellites of the idol, surrounding his throne. I
went on in the procession, close by the tower of Moloch, which,
as it was drawn with difficulty, grated on its many wheels harsh
thunder. After a few minutes it stopped; and now the worship of
the god began. A high priest mounted the car in front of the idol,
and pronounced his obscene stanzas in the ears of the people, who
responded at intervals in the same strain. 'These songs,' said he,
'are the delight of the god.' After the car had moved some way, a
pilgrim announced that he was ready to offer himself in sacrifice to
the idol. He laid himself down in the road before the car, as it was
moving along, lying on his face, with his arms stretched forward.
The multitude passed round him, leaving the space clear, and he was
crushed to death by the wheels of the car.

"A horrid tragedy was acted on the 12th of September, 1807, at
a place about three miles from Calcutta. A Brahmin died at the
advanced age of ninety-two. He had twelve wives, and three of
them were burned alive with his dead body. Of these three, one
was a venerable lady, having white locks, who had been long known
in the neighbourhood. Not being able to walk, she was carried in
a palanquin to the place of burning, and was then placed by the
priests on the funeral pile. The two other ladies were younger; one
of them of a very pleasing and interesting countenance. The old lady
was placed on one side of the dead husband, and the two other wives
laid themselves down on the other side; and then an old Brahmin,
the eldest son of the deceased, applied the torch to the pile, with
unaverted face. The pile suddenly blazed, for it was covered with
combustibles; and this human sacrifice was completed amidst the din
of drums and cymbals, and the shouts of the Brahmins."

"What horrid rites!" exclaimed Mr. Roscoe. "I fear they have been
too long practised to be easily destroyed. I think Christianity
ought to be established in India, for the moral benefit of our
countrymen. Many of them go out when young--when their passions are
strong--and when they have but very faint conceptions of the nature
or the importance of religion; and as there are no Sabbaths--no
religious ordinances or instruction--they must be in great spiritual
danger from the contagion of evil by which they are surrounded."

"I was intimately acquainted," said Mr. Guion, "with a very amiable
young man, the son of a pious solicitor, who went to India, where
he remained ten years, and then returned. He called on me some time
ago, and I derived much information from him; but I was grieved
to find, by his own confession, that he had become a deist. I
asked him if his deism was the result of any fair and earnest
investigation; and he very honestly said, 'No, I found my belief in
the Divine origin of Christianity becoming weaker and weaker when
I was separated from its ministry and institutions, till at length
it became extinct; and though I have sometimes made an effort to
recover it, yet I have not been able to do so.'"

"But," said Mr. Roscoe, "though the establishment of Christianity in
India might preserve our countrymen from infidelity, yet I do not
think we can calculate on bringing over the natives to embrace it."

"Why not? Is the conversion of a modern pagan to the faith of Christ
more difficult than the conversion of an ancient one? If Greece and
Rome were subdued by the preaching of the gospel, who can despair of
India?"

"If we had the same miraculous powers as those with which the
apostles were endowed, we might anticipate similar results; but we
have not; and I confess that, though I approve of the motive which
originates and supports missionary institutions, yet I do not think
they will ever prove successful."

"By what means, then, did Paul convert the heathen? Was it by the
exhibition of miracles? Certainly not. A miracle may make some
impressions on the judgment, by demonstrating the power of a
present Deity, and of his direct agency in its production, but it
cannot renew the heart, and inspire the soul with the love of God,
with a hatred of sin, and a hope of glory. The miracles of the first
ages were merely the credentials of the teachers, and were given
as a solemn confirmation, once for all, of the divinity of the
new dispensation, which they were commissioned to establish; but
they were not the ordained means of conversion. The apostle Paul
performed miracles but seldom; and when he did perform them, they
had not always a salutary effect on those that beheld them. When
he wrought a miracle in Lyconia, the people first worshipped him,
and afterwards would have put him to death. What, then, were the
ordained means of conversion? The same that are ordained now--the
preaching of the cross; as the Scripture hath declared, 'Faith
cometh by hearing.'"

"If we admit," said Mr. Roscoe, "the concurrence of a supernatural
power with the agency of man in teaching and in preaching, we ought
not to doubt the possibility of converting the whole population of
India to the belief of Christianity."

"Certainly not; and is not this supernatural concurrence promised
by Jesus Christ, to his ministers of every age? 'Lo! I am with you
alway, even unto the end of the world.'"

"My heart often aches," said Miss Roscoe, "when I reflect on
the degradation and wretchedness of women in India--where, if
they escape an untimely grave in the days of childhood, they are
doomed to a state of perpetual ignorance, excluded from all the
accomplishments of society, treated as the refuse of the human
family, and are often burned along with the body of their deceased
husbands. I think every woman ought to make some effort to raise
her own sex from this most appalling condition; and as nothing
will prove successful but the principles of Christianity, we ought
all to become the advocates and supporters of missionary and Bible
societies."[10]

  [10] "Will it be asked what females are expected to do? We leave the
  decision of their conduct to the impulses of their hearts, and the
  dictates of their judgment. Let but their affections be consecrated
  to the cause, and their understanding will be sufficiently fruitful
  in expedients to promote it. Their husbands will be gently prevailed
  upon to lay apart some of their substance to serve religion.
  Their children will be nurtured in a missionary spirit, and learn
  to associate with all their pleasures the records of missionary
  privations and triumphs. They will solicit the repetition of the
  often-told tale, and glow with a martyr's zeal for the salvation
  of the souls of men. Listen to the eloquent appeal of a masterly
  preacher on this subject:--'Christian matrons! from whose endeared
  and endearing lips we first heard of the wondrous Babe of Bethlehem,
  and were taught to bend our knee to Jesus--ye who first taught these
  eagles how to soar, will ye now check their flight in the midst of
  heaven? "I am weary," said the ambitious Cornelia, "of being called
  Scipio's daughter; do something, my sons, to style me the mother
  of the Gracchi." And what more laudable ambition can inspire you,
  than a desire to be the mothers of the missionaries, confessors,
  and martyrs of Jesus? Generations unborn shall call you blessed.
  The churches of Asia and Africa, when they make grateful mention of
  their founders, will say, "Blessed be the wombs which bare them, and
  the breasts which they have sucked!" Ye wives also of the clergy,
  let it not be said that while ye love the mild virtues of the man,
  ye are incapable of alliance with the grandeur of the minister. The
  wives of Christian soldiers should learn to rejoice at the sound of
  the battle. Rouse, then, the slumbering courage of your soldiers to
  the field; and think no place so safe, so honoured, as the camp of
  Jesus. Tell the missionary story to your little ones, until their
  young hearts burn, and in the spirit of those innocents who shouted
  hosannah to their lowly King, they cry, "Shall not we also be the
  missionaries of Jesus Christ?"' Such an appeal to Christian females
  cannot be made in vain. They are not the triflers who balance a
  feather against a soul. They will learn to retrench superfluities,
  in order to exercise the grace of Christian charity. They will
  emulate those Jewish women who 'worked with their hands for the
  hangings of the tabernacle,' and brought 'bracelets, and ear-rings,
  and jewels of gold,' for the service of the sanctuary. They will
  consecrate their ornaments to the perishing heathen; and render
  personal and domestic economy a fountain of spiritual blessings to
  unenlightened nations, and to distant ages. They will resign the
  gems of the East to save a soul from death, and bind round their
  brow a coronet of stars, which shall shine for ever and ever!"

"I have no doubt," said Mrs. Roscoe, who was not at home on these
subjects, "but the natives of India are as happy with their religion
as we are with ours; and if the females do not meet with that
respect which we meet with, you know, Madam," addressing herself to
Mrs. Stevens, "that they do not expect it. Therefore, as it hath
pleased the Almighty to give them their religion, I think we ought
not to try to take it from them. We should not like to have ours
taken from us. However, I think there is too much attention paid to
religion in our days; it was not the case in the good old times of
our fathers."

"But, mamma, would you not save a little child from being drowned,
or a widow from being burned, if it were in your power?"

"Certainly, my dear."

"Now, mamma, as this cannot be done by force, we propose convincing
the people, by a process of fair reasoning, that such practices are
sinful and impolitic; and thus induce them, if possible, to abolish
them."

"Oh! that may be very proper, but I think that we have nothing to do
with it, and therefore, why should we trouble ourselves about it?
Why not let things remain as they always have been?"

"I must confess," said Mr. Roscoe, "that I begin to differ from you,
and I shall be very glad to see an auxiliary missionary society
established amongst us. If we have a purer faith than the Hindoos,
and one better calculated to promote individual and relative
happiness and improvement, we ought to impart it. To monopolize it
would be an act of selfishness and injustice; and though I have
hitherto, like too many around me, been guilty of this act, I will
go and sin no more."

"But, surely," said Mrs. Roscoe, "you do not intend to become a
missionary, and transplant us to some province of India?"

"No, no, my dear; I will not go myself, but I will give some portion
of my property to send others."

Had some shapeless figure, of hideous look, suddenly entered the
room, and denounced a heavy woe on each inmate of the dwelling, Mrs.
Roscoe might have been more alarmed, but she could not have appeared
more surprised than when she heard this last sentence.

"What!" she said, in a more lofty tone than I had ever known her
assume, "and have you so far forgotten your own dignity as to
connect yourself with missionary societies, which go abroad on
purpose to disturb other people in their religion, as we have been
disturbed in the enjoyment of ours?"

"My dear, you seem strangely excited, as though I was going to do
some barbarous or immoral act; when all I propose doing, is to give
a little of that wealth which God has given to us, to convey to the
deluded and degraded Hindoos the good news and glad tidings of great
joy which the holy angels announced to the shepherds of Bethlehem,
and which the ministers of Christ proclaim to us. Surely you cannot
object to this."

"I do not suppose you would like the Hindoos to send their religion
over to us, for our adoption."

"They may if they please; but they would not manage to persuade our
widows to burn on the funeral pile of their deceased husbands, or
induce fathers and mothers to destroy their lovely children."

"Well, at any rate, I think you ought to stay till they apply to us
for our religion as a substitute for their own."

It was now late, and the company upon the eve of retiring, when
Miss Roscoe arose, took from the book-case one of the volumes of
Doddridge's _Exposition on the New Testament_, placed it on the
table, and said to Mr. Guion, "I know, Sir, that it is your custom
to conclude your social visits by reading the Scripture and prayer;
and if you will consent to do so this evening, you will greatly
oblige us."

"I have no objection, if it be perfectly agreeable."

"Certainly, Sir," said Mr. Roscoe, "we ought not to object to
prayer."

The bell was now rung, and the servants were requested to come to
family prayer. We waited several minutes, during which time Mrs.
Roscoe was very restless. At length they entered, at irregular
intervals of time, seating themselves on the corner of the chairs
which stood nearest the door, expressing, by their looks, the utmost
degree of surprise at this novel service, and occasionally, by the
satirical smile which played over their countenance, indicating
either their contempt or their disposition to merriment. I needed no
one to tell me that this was the first time the _family_ had ever
knelt together at the throne of grace; but, knowing that a great
moral change had taken place in Mr. Roscoe, I felt conscious that it
would not be the last; and could not refrain offering my inaudible
expressions of praise to the God of all grace, for permitting me
to see _that_ fire enkindled on this newly-erected domestic altar,
which has ever since burnt with unceasing brightness.



THE CONSULTATION.


"Mamma," exclaimed Miss Denham, as she entered the drawing-room one
morning, after rather a lengthened walk, "I have heard something
that will surprise and distress you; I can scarcely believe
the report, but I have been assured of its truth from the best
authority."

"What is it, my dear? you seem agitated, has anything alarmed you?"

"Nothing more, mamma, than this dreadful report; really none of
us seem safe; dear Mr. Cole never spoke a greater truth than when
he said there was something of a _bewitching_ nature in this new
religion! I am alarmed for myself, and almost wish that we were
away from this place altogether. But I must tell you the story. Mr.
Roscoe has taken to his daughter's religion, and is now as fanatical
as herself!"

"I cannot credit this, my dear," replied Mrs. Denham; "you know how
often I have said this is the worst place I know for scandal; you
should be careful how you receive these reports; no, no, my dear,
I cannot believe such a story as this about Mr. Roscoe; he is too
good, amiable, and virtuous a man to be led so far wrong, and too
much of the gentleman to stoop to anything so mean and vulgar."

"I hope, mamma, it may be so, but I am afraid it is true; and every
one is so distressed and affected by the intelligence, I assure you
it has produced quite a sensation."

"My dear, it is impossible; I saw him at church on Sunday, and
heard him myself repeat the responses louder than he ever did
before; and if you recollect, we talked about it when we got home."

"No, mamma; if you recollect, we dined last Sunday with a large
party at Mr. Gladstone's, and did not go to church."

"Then it was Sunday week."

"It has happened since then. It happened one night last week; and
as I have been at some pains to get at an entire knowledge of this
disaster, I will tell you about it."

"Oh! dear," said Mrs. Denham, as she composed herself to listen to
the tragical story, "what a world we live in! Really nothing but
religion seems to be thought of. Our very servants are becoming
religious, and who can wonder at it, when the rich set them the
example! And if this should be true about Mr. Roscoe, which I
devoutly pray heaven may forbid, there is no saying where the evil
will stop."

"Well, mamma, you know that on Tuesday week Mr. and Mrs. Stevens,
and the gentleman that is on a visit there, and the Rev. Mr. Guion,
all went to spend the evening at Mr. Roscoe's."

"I have always said," interrupting her daughter, "that there is no
good doing when such people get together. If I had seen them go, I
would have given Mr. Roscoe a hint to be on his guard. He was taken
by surprise, I have no doubt. Well, my dear, go on."

"Well, ma', as I was saying, they all went; and when there, Mr.
Roscoe said that he would change his religion, and have that which
flourished so luxuriantly at Fairmount; and he got Mr. Guion to read
a chapter out of the Bible, and to say prayers, and had all the
servants in to hear him, and they all knelt down, though I heard
that the cook stole out slyly, when they were all upon their knees.
She didn't like it."

"I always thought well of that cook; she has a taste above her class
in life, I should like to have her; do you think she will leave?"

"I don't know, ma', but I should think she will; I will ask her if
you wish it."

"No, my dear, it won't do for you to appear in the matter; I'll
speak to John to speak to her. But now about Mr. Roscoe, what is to
be done?"

"But, ma', I have something more dismal to tell you."

"I hope not. Why, this is enough to shock the feelings of an angel.
Reading the Bible, and prayers, and kneeling down on the floor with
servants! I hope Mrs. Roscoe is not gone off."

"No, all this was much against her will, and she is very unhappy
about it, and says she shall never be happy again."

"Dear creature, it is impossible; but what else have you to tell?"

"Why, Mr. Roscoe proposed to set up a missionary society, to raise
money to send this new religion abroad."

"Well, my dear, this last part of your story relieves my mind. This
is a proof of mental derangement. The Chancellor would not want a
stronger. It is often the case, when people go wrong in their mind,
they profess strong attachment to the things they hate most when
they are in their right senses. I now must insist upon it that you
never make another call at Fairmount. Really, if you should ever
take up with this evangelical religion, I should be tempted to wish
myself in heaven, to escape the mortification."

"Indeed, ma', you need give yourself no uneasiness on that subject.
I have no predisposition in favour of religion. Indeed, I have my
doubts, and if it were fashionable, I think I should profess myself
a sceptic, but that would not be lady-like."

Mrs. and Miss Denham, after much long and serious debate, resolved
on making a call on Mrs. Roscoe. They found her at home, alone,
depressed, and reserved, and though she made an effort to rise to
her usual vivacity, yet she could not succeed. Mrs. Denham was very
particular in her inquiries after the health of Mr. Roscoe, and was
surprised to hear that he was well; and on being informed that he
was gone with Miss Sophia to spend an hour at Fairmount, in company
with the Rev. Mr. Ingleby, she became greatly agitated.

"Then I fear, my dear Mrs. Roscoe, that it is too true? Oh! I have
had no rest since I heard it. What a trial! Really, no one is safe.
That such a sensible, and amiable, and virtuous man as Mr. Roscoe
used to be, should so far forget himself and all his friends as to
change his religion, is very astonishing and affecting. We called
on the Rev. Mr. Cole as we came by, to ask if he had heard of the
report, and here he is, dear man, coming to condole with you."

"I am glad to see you," said Mrs. Denham to Mr. Cole, as he entered
the parlour; "we have been offering our sympathy to dear Mrs.
Roscoe--but can't something be done, Sir?"

"Then I suppose there is some foundation for the report. I always
thought Mr. Roscoe a very judicious and sensible man, and I still
hope, that though he has diverged into this eccentric course, his
good sense will, on cool reflection, induce him to return."

"Yes, Sir," replied Mrs. Roscoe, "I hope so too, but it is possible
that the influence and example of our daughter may protract, if it
do not perpetuate, the delusion under which he unhappily labours;
and if so, I shall never see another happy day."

"O yes, you will," said Mr. Cole, "his sun is only passing under
a cloud, and when his mind clears up, it will shine with its
accustomed brightness. His good sense will preserve him from that
fatal vortex into which too many have fallen."

"If, Sir, this were a sudden change, I should be induced to believe
that he might be recovered, but it has been coming on for a long
time. You know that he does not make up his mind on any subject very
suddenly, but when he has done it, you know how firm he is."

"Very true," said Mr. Cole, "but his spirits have been unusually
depressed for some months. I remember the last time we spent an
evening at Mr. Denham's, that I rallied him on his dulness when we
were at play. We must raise his spirits, and then we shall drive
away his evangelical notions."

"I have not noticed any particular depression. He has been rather
more grave, yet he has been cheerful; and has talked rather more
frequently on religious subjects, but they have not affected his
spirits."

"Well," said Mr. Cole, "I will come and have a rubber with him, and
I will engage to rub these notions out of him."

"Indeed, Sir, he has formally declined playing any more, and has
requested me never again to introduce cards."

"Really," said Mrs. Denham, "this is very affecting. Not play again!
Not suffer cards to be introduced? Then I suppose he intends to
break off connection with all his old friends, and take up with the
evangelicals; but I hope you have too much firmness to yield to him."

"It has been my maxim through life to sacrifice everything for the
sake of domestic peace. I cannot oppose Mr. Roscoe, and I must
confess that he has manifested the utmost degree of affection and
kindness."

"The apostle St. Paul has predicted," said the Rev. Mr. Cole, "that
in the last days perilous times should come, and indeed they are
come. The church once enjoyed quietude, but now she is rent into
divisions; not so much by the Dissenters who have seceded from us,
as by the evangelical clergy who are admitted within her pale.
Their eccentric notions, and their extempore and familiar style of
preaching, operate as a charm on the minds of their hearers; and
wherever they go, some stir is always occasioned about religion.
In general, the poor and the illiterate become their admirers; but
sometimes we see men of sense and learning beguiled by their artful
sophisms. I can account for their success among the lower orders,
but when I see an intelligent man brought over to their belief, I
confess I am puzzled. But still I won't give up Mr. Roscoe. I will,
in the course of a few Sundays, preach a sermon which I will procure
for the occasion."

"You will greatly oblige me if you will, Sir, but you must do it
soon, for I dread the idea of Mr. Roscoe going to hear Mr. Ingleby
while he is in his present state of mind."

"But you have no idea of his leaving my church?"

"Why, you know very well," Miss Denham remarked, "that none of the
evangelicals think you preach the gospel. I have heard Miss Sophia
say so many times, and you may be sure that she will try to make
her papa believe it, and if he is become an evangelical, he is sure
to believe it; for I have noticed that what one believes, they all
believe. Really, Sir, there is so much ado made now about the word
gospel and evangelical preachers, that the subjects are become quite
offensive."

"Yes, to persons of intelligence and taste."

"Exactly so, Sir; you will excuse what I am going to say, but I
often think that you are rather severe, too much so I know for some
of your hearers; but I have no idea how any people of sense can go
and hear such preaching as Mr. Ingleby's. I heard him once, _on the
loss of the soul_. I could not sleep after it--and even now, at
times I think of it. But, Sir, you know we have nothing to do with
such subjects till we die, or till after death."

"Such preaching," said Mr. Cole, "is as offensive to pure taste, as
it is revolting to our feelings."

"Exactly so; you know we are to be allured to a brighter world--not
frightened there. Pray, Sir, shall we have the pleasure of meeting
you and Mrs. Cole at Mr. Ryder's on Tuesday? By the by, I wonder
you do not cure Mr. John of his scepticism. There is to be a large
party, and rather a gay one."

"I don't think," replied Mr. Cole, "that Mr. John Ryder has any more
scepticism than does him good--it keeps off the gloom which a belief
in the Bible almost necessarily brings over the youthful mind. No, I
shall not be with you. I have an engagement with a few friends who
are going to Bath, to see _Romeo and Juliet_."

"How dull and insipid is a religious service when compared with a
play. What a pity that our Maker requires us to be religious. I have
not seen a play for some months, and when I was hearing Mr. Ingleby,
I really thought that I should never have courage to see another.
Oh, how he did denounce the theatre! He really said that it was the
pathway to hell."

"Yes," said Mr. Cole, with high disdain, "that man would interdict
us from every social enjoyment; would batter down the temple of the
muses, or change it into a house of prayer; and bring before our
imagination the awful realities of the eternal world, with so much
force, as should compel us to think, with perpetual awe, on death
and the future judgment."

"Oh! dear, they are awful realities indeed. When I heard him, he
alluded to dear Miss Patterson, who took cold on returning from
the play, and died, you know, Sir, a few weeks afterwards? Oh! she
was a lovely creature. She was too good to live on earth. Had she
been religious, she would have been a saint. But she often used
to say that her grandpapa left his religion to her aunts, and his
fortune to his grandchildren. Mr. Ingleby, after condemning plays,
&c., as impure and sinful, made a long pause, and then proposed his
questions with so much solemnity, that my pulse began to beat with
feverish rapidity.--'Should you like,' he said, and he looked while
he said it so stern and solemn, 'to pass from the theatre to the
judgment-seat of Christ? Should you like to leave the gaieties of
this world, to associate with the awful realities of another?' There
was so much stillness in the church as he went on in this strain of
awful eloquence, and so many people were overcome by what he said,
and such a serene smile on his countenance when he began to speak
about our Saviour, that I do really think, if I had not been very
firm and decided, I should have become as religious as any of them.
It was, I assure you, very difficult to withstand his fervour."

"I hope," said Mr. Cole, "you will never go again, for evil
communications corrupt the best of hearts."

"Go again!" exclaimed Mrs. Denham, "not if she have any respect
for her own happiness, or ours. Why, to hear this about the sermon
is enough to frighten any good Christian; what must it have been
to have heard the sermon itself! One thing puzzles me when I think
about it--why do our bishops consecrate such men?"

"Oh, unluckily we have some evangelical bishops."

"A bishop evangelical! don't you consider that a great wonder, Sir?"

"I consider it a great calamity to our church."

"Exactly so; then I suppose we shall always be annoyed with these
evangelical clergy if the bishops sanction them. I hope you won't
turn evangelical."

"Not while I retain my reason. When that is gone, I may go off too."

My readers who are but superficially acquainted with the religious
habits and style of conversation which prevail in the higher walks
of life, may be induced to imagine that I have given a strong
colouring to some parts of my narrative, but I assure them that I
have not. Indeed, had I quoted the epithets and the phrases which,
I know, are sometimes employed, when a certain class of fashionable
Christians, with their anti-evangelical pastors, venture to discuss
religious subjects, and animadvert on religious people, my pages
would be too disfigured to pass through the hands of the pious
reader.

It is to be lamented that many intelligent and amiable persons, who
occupy very prominent positions amongst us, and who are admired and
esteemed by all who know them, are as ignorant of the nature and
the design of Christianity as the ancient Scythian or the modern
barbarian. They imagine that they are Christians, because they are
born in a Christian country; that they are very good Christians,
because they sometimes go to church; and that they are safe for
another world, because their conscience does not condemn them for
the practices in which they now indulge themselves. And if any one,
in the most guarded way and the kindest tones of speech, venture
to suggest the possibility of self-deception, they are offended,
or take refuge in the belief that their hearts are too good to be
guilty of such a mean vice. They keep to the religion in which they
were born and educated; and this to them is the ark of safety.

Yes, you are a Christian in Britain, as you would be a Mahometan
if you had been born in Turkey; but search the Scriptures, and
examine if the design of Christianity has ever been accomplished
in you. Have you been born again? No. That subject you ridicule,
because you do not understand it. Have you had repentance towards
God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? No; and if these subjects
were pressed upon your conscience with the affection of apostolic
compassion, and ardour of apostolic zeal, you would retire
displeased, if not disgusted, with the minister who dares to enforce
them as essential to your safety and happiness. Are you crucified
to the world by the moral influence of the death of Jesus Christ?
Crucified to the world! The very phrase, though scriptural, grates
offensively on your ear! Crucified to the world! O no. You are
devoted to its pleasures, its follies, its amusements. Shut up the
theatre, abolish cards, interdict the assembly and the ball, and how
would a large portion of our modern Christians be able to support
life?

You may imagine that you are a _good Christian_, because you
sometimes go to church; but an occasional visit to a material
temple will not produce that moral transformation of the soul which
is essential to fit you for the holy exercises and enjoyments of
another world. You may reject these questions which I now propose
to you; but before you reject them, permit me to urge you to search
the Scriptures, and then you will see that they have a paramount
claim on your attention. Can you be a Christian unless you possess
the spirit, and are in some degree conformed to the image of Jesus
Christ?

But it ought not to excite our astonishment, though it may our
tenderest sympathy, to see the great majority of those who move in
fashionable life passing away their time amidst the gaieties and
follies of the world, when they are sanctioned, if not encouraged
by the clergy, who ought to teach them better, both by precept and
example.

We have ministers of religion who do not hesitate to hold up to
ridicule and contempt the essential doctrines and self-denying
precepts of their own faith; and attempt, as far as the influence
of their example can extend, to banish all serious and devout piety
from the social circle. They see no harm in customs which the spirit
and even the letter of the Scriptures condemn; and sanction by
their presence those scenes of human folly and gaiety which have
captivated and ruined thousands, who were once the ornaments of
their fathers' house.

Such ministers not only sanction the customs of the world, but
they discountenance all serious piety, and declaim against their
evangelical brethren as disturbers of the peace of the church. If
Christianity be a cunningly devised fable--if the life of faith and
of practical devotedness of the soul to God be mere fancies--if
heaven and hell be the conceptions of romance, brought into the
pulpit to terrify the credulous and please the sanguine--I should
not hesitate to pronounce a heavy censure on those ministers who
bring forward these subjects so often, and who enforce attention to
them with so much ardent and impassioned eloquence.

But if Christianity be true--if the final happiness or misery of the
human soul depend on faith in Christ--if the glories of heaven and
the terrors of hell are realities which exceed the power of man to
describe--then even the most sceptical must admit that the ministers
of religion ought, with great boldness and impassioned earnestness,
to rouse their hearers to a serious and immediate attention to these
great, these awful subjects; and ought they not to teach by example,
as well as by precept? and by the purity of their morals--by
their religious habits and style of conversation--give strong and
unequivocal proofs that they preach what they believe, and believe
what they preach?

But let no Christian, whatever rank he may hold in social life, or
whatever degree of reputation he may have attained for intelligence,
or good sense, or for amiability of temper, presume to hope that he
will ever be able to make a scriptural profession of religion (after
he has felt the power of it) without exciting the displeasure, if
not the opposition, of his irreligious relatives and friends. They
will not object to the religion of forms and ceremonies; to the
religion which is confined to the temple, or to the bed of sickness;
to the religion which allows of a conformity to the gaieties and
the follies of the world, and which frowns from its presence all
references to death, to judgment, to heaven, and to hell; but
the religion which consists in the moral renovation of the soul,
which identifies man with a living Saviour, and which raises his
anticipations to the glories of the invisible world, they despise,
and cast it from them as a strange thing, and then ridicule it as
contemptible.



THE DARK VALE ILLUMINED.


Just as we were going out to take an evening walk, the postman
delivered a letter addressed to Mrs. Stevens; she read it, and in
silence handed it to her husband. I apprehended, from the expression
of her countenance and her excited manner, that it conveyed some
painful intelligence; and this was immediately confirmed by Mr.
Stevens, who said, "This is a letter from our nephew, Mr. Lewellin,
informing us of the sudden and dangerous illness of his mother, and
he requests that we hasten to see her."

"The intelligence," said Mrs. Stevens, "is most painful, but it
does not greatly surprise me; I had something like a presentiment
of it in the mental visions of the past night; I saw her leaning
on the top of her staff, standing near the brink of a river, whose
waters divided of themselves, as a radiant brightness gilded the
whole horizon; and while listening for some moments to the sounds of
sweetest harmony, I awoke, and found it was a dream. Thus my senses
were locked up in the chambers of slumber, that my spirit might go
and commune with my dear sister before she leaves us."

A carriage was immediately sent for, and we set off from Fairmount
about eight o'clock. It was a cloudy moonlight night. We rolled
on in silence, being too much absorbed in painful thought and
expectation to break the quiet which grief requires for the solace
of her own feelings. At length Mr. Stevens, alluding to Mrs.
Lewellin's illness, said, "With what different emotions do the
inhabitants of the visible and invisible world contemplate the same
event! While we are anticipating her departure with deep sorrow, the
glorified spirits of her deceased husband, and child, and father,
are attuning their harps of joy, to celebrate her entrance among
them."

"Very true," Mrs. Stevens replied; "our loss is their gain; but it
is as natural for us to deplore our loss, as it is natural for them
to exult in their gain."

"I admit, my dear, that we cannot, while encompassed by human
infirmities, avoid feeling the pang of sorrow on such an occasion as
this, though we may moderate its intensity by reflecting on our own
dissolution, which will introduce us into the society of those who
obtain the prize of immortality before us."

We had no difficulty in procuring a change of horses at each
succeeding stage; nothing worthy of remark occurred during the
journey, and on the following morning we arrived at Mrs. Lewellin's
cottage.[11] The same jessamine, and honey-suckles, and rose trees
adorned its tasteful front; the same hawthorn hedge inclosed its
well-cultivated garden; the little wicket-gate still swung on its
hinges, as when I paid my first visit six years before; but they had
lost their attractions, or I had lost my power of enjoyment.

  [11] See page 6.

On seeing Mr. Lewellin, Mrs. Stevens said, "Is your mother still
living, my dear George, or has she left us?"

"O no, aunt, she has not left us; she has made many inquiries about
you, and longs to see you. She says that when she has seen you she
shall depart in peace."

"When was she first taken ill, and what is the nature of her
disorder?"

"She has not been well for some weeks, but her indisposition
created no alarm. On Sabbath morning she felt better, and went to
chapel, where she commemorated the death of the Redeemer, with her
Christian brethren. As she was returning home she was exposed to a
heavy shower, and though she took every precaution to prevent any
evil consequences, yet, early in the evening, an inflammation of
the bowels came on, which has raged with unabating violence; and
her medical attendant says that he does not expect that she can
live through the day. Her pains have been excruciating, but she has
borne them with the fortitude and resignation of a Christian, and
now she seems to be enjoying that fatal ease which is the immediate
forerunner of dissolution."

On entering her room she received us with composure, and calmly said
to her sister, "Weep not for me, the days of my widowed mourning are
drawing to a close. I have long lived secluded from the world, and I
can leave it without a sigh."

"Then," I said, "you have no fear?"

"Fear! why should I fear? I know I am in the valley, but it is
illumined with the light of life. I have often dreaded this hour,
yet it is the happiest hour I have ever known."

"To us, my dear sister, it is a most painful hour."

On seeing her sister and her son in tears, she said, "I hope you
will compose yourselves, that we may enjoy each other's society
on this side Jordan, which I am soon to pass.... My dear George,
receive once more, and for the last time, the congratulations of
your mother on the honour which the God of all grace has conferred
on you, in adopting you as his son. I now solemnly charge you,
before Him and the pious friends now with you, always to act worthy
of your high vocation. Maintain the dignity of your Christian
character by the integrity of your principles, your decision, and
your zeal for the honour of the Lord of life and glory. As much of
your future happiness and respectability will depend on the choice
which you may make when you settle in life, let me beseech you _to
marry only in the Lord--prefer piety to beauty, good sense to a
large fortune, and remember that a meek and quiet spirit_ is the
most beautiful ornament in the home of a righteous man."

She then turned towards Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, and said, "I thank
you for all your kindness to me and mine in the days of our
adversity. The Lord reward you a thousand fold. I have only one
legacy to leave, and I leave it to you. I bequeath to you my dear
boy; take care of him for my sake."

The pious rector of the parish made an early call. Mrs. Lewellin
received him with a sweet smile, and motioned him to be seated.
After inquiring for her welfare, he thus accosted her: "What would
you now do without a Saviour?"

"I should perish! But I have a Saviour whose blood cleanseth from
all sin."

"His blood," he said, "is of more value than a thousand worlds."

She replied, "_It is inestimable! It is inestimable!_"

We all knelt down, and this man of God devoutly prayed that she
might have "an entrance ministered unto her abundantly into the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

As the cottage was not large enough for our accommodation, the pious
rector invited us to his hospitable home, but Mrs. Stevens resolved
not to leave her sister. There was grief over the whole village as
the rumour spread that she was dying. Her benevolence had added
lustre to her piety, and such was the veneration and attachment
in which her character was held, that many a hand knocked softly
at the door of her cottage, and many a low voice inquired how God
was dealing with her. About noon she fell into a sweet sleep, and
slept for several hours; she awoke refreshed, animated; a heavenly
serenity beamed on her countenance, as she exclaimed, "Oh! the bliss
of dying!"

"You are happy, mother, in the prospect of death."

"Happy, my child, yes, my joy is unspeakable."

Her voice suddenly faltered, yet she gently whispered "Farewell"
as her son caught her in his arms, and with her eyes fixed on him,
after one strong convulsive struggle, she expired.

Mrs. Lewellin had generally attended the village church in the
morning of the Sabbath, and in the evening she usually heard an
excellent minister of Christ who preached in a Dissenting chapel,
and when reproached for her liberality by the more bigoted, she used
to say, "_I have no objection to go where I can hold communion with
the Saviour_." Adjoining the chapel there was a burying-ground,
to which she had long been accustomed to resort, as favourable to
meditation, and on returning from an evening walk with the pious
rector, we passed near it, and were induced to visit the spot which
she had selected as the place of her burial; it was overshadowed by
a large oak tree, and partially inclosed with some evergreens, which
she had transplanted from her own garden.

[Illustration: THE DARK VALE ILLUMINED.

Vol. i. page 300.]

"You see," he said, "how instinctively we love immortality, and as
we cannot live here always, we wish life to flourish over the tomb
in which our body is decaying. This is simple and beautiful. She
was a woman of great taste, and a Christian of high principle. Her
knowledge of the gospel was clear, comprehensive, and profound; and
she displayed, during her residence with us, a spirit as free from
the ordinary imperfections of the human character as I have ever
beheld."

I told him that I had been requested to ask if he would attend her
funeral.

He replied, "Certainly, if the family wish it. I respected her--I
loved her. I often retired from the labour and perplexity of study
to pass an hour with her, and always found her conversation of
such a spiritual, catholic, and heavenly cast, that I never failed
to derive great benefit from it. Her conversation was remarkably
suggestive; she has helped me to many texts, and some of my most
useful sermons owe their origin to her observations and reflections.
I was always delighted when I saw her in church, because I knew she
was praying in spirit for the success of my ministry."

Upon the day appointed for her burial almost every inhabitant of
the village attended, to pay the tribute of respect to her memory.
The corpse was taken into the chapel, and after the minister had
read the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians, and delivered a very
simple impressive address, and offered up a solemn prayer to "the
God of the spirits of all flesh," it was interred amidst the sighs
and tears of a large concourse of spectators. Some were attired
in full mourning, many were in half mourning, but the majority
had merely put on their Sabbath dress, being too poor to purchase
clothes for the occasion. There was one female of the group, about
the age of thirty, with an infant in her arms, whose appearance
and manners indicated the most poignant grief. During the time the
minister was conducting the service, the tear fell silently on her
cheek, but when the body was lowered into the grave she wept no
more, but appeared convulsed, and then advanced to the brink of the
grave, and after looking with intense eagerness for some seconds,
she exclaimed, "Lover and friend hast thou taken from me," and fell
senseless on the ground. On inquiry, I found that she was the widow
of a poor woodman, who was killed by the falling of a tree, and who
was left with three children, and had another born three months
after his father's decease. She lived about a quarter of a mile from
the cottage, and as Mrs. Lewellin used to pass by her residence
when taking her morning walks, she often called to see her. On one
occasion (the poor woman told me the next day), after giving her
weekly donation, she gave her a tract, and requested her to read it.
"I did read it," said the weeping widow, "but I could not understand
it. When she called the next time she asked me if I had read it, and
when I told her I could not understand it, she said, 'Read it again,
but before you read it the second time, pray to God for wisdom to
enable you to understand it. He can give it, and he will give it if
you ask him.' I did so. The Lord has answered my prayer, and made
me, I trust, wise unto salvation. But he has taken from me my guide,
my counsellor, and my friend. The death of my husband, which threw
me on the charity of the parish, and deprived my dear babes of a
father, was a great trial, but it did not pierce my heart like this.
I sometimes think my heart will break, then I go and pray to the
Lord for submission to his holy will, and I find myself better; but
it will be a long time indeed before I shall be able to get over it."

I mentioned this incident at the rectory, and then learned that
the poor widow was a regular attendant at the church, and was
considered decidedly pious. Mrs. Stevens, having ascertained the
amount of her departed sister's weekly donation, engaged the rector
to become her almoner, and the usual payment was continued. Mr.
Lewellin was so affected by this testimony to the memory of his
mother, that he increased the sum; and before he left Stanmoor he
called to see the bereaved sufferer, and gave her several articles
of furniture, which once adorned the lonely cottage of her whose
remains we had committed to the tomb.

The evening before our departure, I retraced the steps I had trodden
on my former visit to this village; and fixing on the same hour for
my ramble into the vale, I anticipated another interview with the
pious shepherd. As I walked on I heard the bleating of the sheep,
and saw them at a distance ascending the steep path which led up to
their fold in a neighbouring field. I heard also the barking of the
dog; and soon afterwards the shepherd made his appearance, but I
knew him not.

"Is the old man dead," I asked, "who kept his flock here about six
years ago?"

"Yes, Sir; he died about Christmas."

"Did you know him?"

"He was my father; and a better father never lived."

"He was a religious man; was he not?"

"Yes, Sir; and he died in the faith of Christ."

"I hope you are following in his steps."

"It is, Sir, my wish and my prayer to be a follower of them who
through faith and patience inherit the promises."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the Sabbath morning after our return to Fairmount, the Rev. Mr.
Ingleby preached from Acts xxi. 16, "An old disciple." We were much
pleased with his sermon, particularly with the following passage:
"When we see an old disciple moving amidst the activities and
amenities of life, we see a _living_ monument of the faithfulness
and loving-kindness of God; and when we follow him to his grave,
though we may sorrow over his departure from amongst us, yet our
sorrow is not to be without hope; he still lives, and lives in a
new form, amidst new scenes of beauty and of grandeur, and with
new associates; he is with Christ, assimilated to his likeness,
beholding his glory, and enjoying sweetest intercourse with him. His
gain by his death, should reconcile us to our loss."

"The loss of my dear sister," said Mrs. Stevens, "is the most
afflictive trial I have ever been called to endure. Memory carries
me back to the days of childhood, to the riper years of age, and to
the associations with which my dear departed sister is inseparably
entwined. But the pleasing charm soon vanishes, for she is gone."

"But, my dear," replied Mr. Stevens, "though this affliction be
grievous, yet you might have been visited by one much more severe."

"Yes, I know it. I might have lost you. That would have been a
more overwhelming one. I wish to be resigned--it is my constant
prayer--and I hope that I do not cherish any murmuring disposition,
but I cannot help feeling; yet I fear lest I should indulge my
mourning to an excess."

"Excess of grief, my dear, is to be guarded against, as it unhinges
the mind, induces a melancholy cast of temper, and dispossesses
comforts which are still preserved, of their power to interest and
delight. Mourn you may, but you must not mourn as one 'who has no
hope.' For hope, even the sweetest hope that can lodge in the human
heart, is yours. Death has merely separated you for a season, he has
not destroyed your union. You now live apart, but no impassable gulf
lies between you--only a narrow grave. Let your mourning, therefore,
be moderate and submissive."

"Yes," Mrs. Stevens replied, as her countenance began to assume
its former cheerfulness, which had vanished from the moment the
first intelligence of her sister's illness was received, "my sister
lives--she lives a purer and a happier life than I ever expect to
live, till I cease to breathe this vital air--she now sees the King
in his beauty--she now unites with all the redeemed in singing,
'Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own
blood.' She is, and ever will be with the Lord. These words comfort
me."

"Then let _me_ hear the words which comfort you," said Mr. Lewellin,
who caught this latter sentence as he entered the parlour, "as they
may serve to comfort me. My heart never throbbed as it has done
since I lost my mother--a loss I have been anticipating for years,
but I now find that it is more desolating than I ever anticipated."

"It is an event," said Mr. Stevens, "which has brought along with
it many alleviating circumstances. She died in peace. No dubious
uncertainty distracted her, no dread forebodings appalled her, no
torturing anxieties for those she loved agitated her breast. Hers
was an enviable death."

"Yes," said Mr. Lewellin, "her sun did not go down till the evening;
and even then it was light. She told me that for several days before
her last illness she suffered great mental perplexity and horror,
that she not only doubted her personal piety, but the truth of
revelation. She was driven almost to a state of despair; and on the
Sabbath morning, when she left her cottage for the house of prayer,
she resolved not to receive the memorials of the Saviour's death.
The text from which the Rev. Mr. Bates preached, was taken from
Judges viii. 4, 'Faint, yet pursuing.' There was one paragraph in
the sermon which gave her sweet relief. It was to this effect: 'The
most favoured servants of the Lord are liable to momentary seasons
of suspicion and depression; and some have been left for days, and
some for months, not only without consolation, but even without
hope. But shall we say that as soon as they lose their enjoyments
they make a shipwreck of their faith? Shall we say that the design
of God--the practical efficacy of the atonement--the continual
indwelling of the Holy Spirit--depend on the ever fluctuating
and ever varying temperament and feelings of the mind, which is
sometimes so perplexed and distracted by unknown causes, as to
be incapable of _believing_ its own faith, or deriving felicity
from its own sources of blessedness? Oh! no. There are periods
in the mysterious life of an heir of salvation when he is left
without comfort, if not without hope, and then comes on the hour
and the power of darkness; but this singular dispensation does not
disinherit him, or leave him an orphan, in a state of privation and
abandonment; neither does it destroy the vitality of his religious
principles, but it is intended to let him feel a portion of that
misery which he deserves, but from which he is delivered through the
blood of the Lamb.'"

"Had my sister left us under this mental gloom, I should have had no
doubt," said Mrs. Stevens, "of her present happiness; but it would
have been an additional cause of grief."

"Sometimes," I observed, "it pleases God to leave his most eminent
servants without any strong consolation in their last hours; and
sometimes he elevates them to a participation of the felicity
of heaven, before he permits them to enter. Hence there is no
undeviating uniformity in his procedure; but yet he keeps our
practical good in view by all the dispensations of his will. When I
see a holy man overwhelmed with sorrow on the eve of his departure,
I am convinced there is no absolute, no meritorious connection
between an exemplary life and a triumphant death. This conviction,
coming through such a medium, destroys all self-complacency, and
impels me to place all my dependence for salvation on Jesus Christ.
But when I see a sinner of like passions and infirmities with
myself--one who has wept over defects and transgressions similar to
my own--rising above fear, eagerly and yet submissively anticipating
his own dissolution, giving utterance to thoughts and feelings more
nearly allied to the glory and purity of the heavenly state than to
the dark obscurity of the present, I feel a degree of gratitude to
the Saviour for making manifest life and immortality, which, for its
full expression, I must wait till I see him as he is, and am made
like unto him."

"The death of our friends," said Mr. Stevens, "is always an
afflictive event, but it is sometimes a salutary one. It reminds
us of our mortality, and brings before our imagination the unseen
realities of an eternal world. It teaches us what shadows we are,
and what shadows we are pursuing:--

    'Our dying friends come o'er us like a cloud,
    To damp our brainless ardours; and abate
    That glare of life, which often blinds the wise.
    Our dying friends are pioneers, to smooth
    Our rugged pass to death; to break those bars
    Of terror and abhorrence nature throws
    'Cross our obstructed way; and thus to make
    _Welcome_, as _safe_, our port from ev'ry storm.'"

"To repine," I observed, "under any of the dispensations of
Providence, would be to display a temper which no Christian should
cherish; but to repine at the grave of a pious friend, discovers
not only a spirit of hostility to the Divine will, but an unsubdued
selfishness, which would deprive another of happiness, merely to
augment our own."

"Resignation is our duty, and this brings with it its own reward;
yet it is a disposition which does not spring up spontaneously in
the heart. It is one of those good gifts which cometh from above;
but, like every other disposition which claims the same origin,
it must be exercised before it can become _perfect_; and when
perfected, or when approaching near perfection, it can rejoice in
tribulations also."



INTEMPERATE ZEAL.


The Rev. Mr. Roscoe and his lady, who had not been at the mansion
for several years, now intimated their intention to pay a visit to
their brother. He was the youngest son of the family, and at an
early age had decided for the church, as a profession more easy,
if not so lucrative as some others. Having finished his career at
Oxford, where he was more distinguished for his love of pleasure
than regard for academical honours, he obtained ordination, and
settled in a parish in Somersetshire. For nearly fifteen years he
remained unmarried, devoting himself to a life of pleasure, and
paying but little attention to the claims of his parishioners.
The dignity of the priest was lowered by the imperfections of the
man, and the church was forsaken for the village chapel. At length
he was, by the remonstrances of his friends, induced to pursue a
course more becoming the sanctity of his office; he withdrew from
his former companions, abandoned the sports of the field and of the
gaming table, and turned the torrent of his displeasure against
those who had separated themselves from the church, on account of
his former irregularities. He had reached the age of forty when he
married the eldest daughter of a neighbouring magistrate, a lady
distinguished by superior intelligence, and a most catholic spirit.
They had two children, who both died in infancy. So deeply wounded
was the heart of the mother by these bereavements, that she long
abandoned herself to the agonies of grief; and though time had now
removed its poignancy, yet she often alluded to her babes and their
early death, in a tone and manner which proved that they still lived
in her fond remembrance.

Their arrival at their brother's mansion had been expected for
several days, and every preparation was made to render their visit
pleasant and profitable. At length they came; and though the Rev.
Mr. Roscoe was a reformed man, yet he discovered no signs of being
a spiritual one. He was become more moral in his habits, but less
tolerant in spirit; and soon convinced his brother and his niece
that "the things which are seen and temporal" had a more powerful
ascendency over him than those "which are unseen and eternal." He
declined the invitation of the Rev. Mr. Cole, to preach on the
following Sabbath, as he was too much fatigued by his journey to
do duty; but consented to accompany the family to church. It was
a beautiful morning, still and serene; no sound was heard but the
melody of the birds, and the "church-going bell." Mr. Cole read
the Liturgy in his usual heavy, monotonous tone, which was no less
offensive to the ear, than a certain air of carelessness which hung
over his manner was repulsive of devotional feeling. He announced
his text in an elevated pitch of voice, which immediately arrested
the attention of his congregation. "The subject," he remarked,
"which I shall submit to you this morning, is taken from the tenth
chapter of St. Paul the apostle's Epistle to the Romans, and the
second verse:--'For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God,
but not according to knowledge.'"

He began by declaiming against the spirit and the conduct of the
ancient Pharisees, who were, he asserted, the troublers of the
church in a former age; and then expressed his deep regret that
the sect was not yet become extinct, but was even at this moment
augmenting its numbers, and threatening, by its untempered zeal,
and its invincible ignorance, to tarnish the lustre and destroy
the foundation of the church which is fostering them in her bosom.
"If," said he, "we run a comparison between the modern Calvinists,
who unhappily stand connected with our venerable Establishment--the
admiration and envy of the world--and the ancient Pharisees, we
shall find that they bear a close resemblance to each other; and
though a good man will pause before he gathers on his lips the
denunciations of inspired writ, yet a high sense of duty compels me
to say that the woes which our Saviour uttered against the latter,
stand directly pointed against the former. The ancient Pharisees set
aside the weightier matters of the law to attend to the ceremonials
of religion; they prescribed no bounds to their proselyting spirit,
for they would encompass sea and land to gain _even one_ proselyte;
and when they had gained him, our Saviour says that they made him
twofold more a child of hell than themselves, though they made
bolder and higher pretensions to religion than any other sect.
And who, when looking at this picture of the ancient Pharisees,
does not recognize the portrait of our modern Calvinists?--'For I
bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according
to knowledge.' But the modern Calvinists conduct themselves with
less reverence for the authority of our church, than the Pharisees
discovered for the authority of theirs; for they will dare to
reject some of our established doctrines, and explain away the
import of some of our long-settled rites and sacraments."

He then went on to prove, by quotations from the fathers and the
Book of Common Prayer, that baptismal regeneration is the only
regeneration which is necessary or possible; and positively asserted
that the conversion of persons who are already members of the
apostolic Church of England, is a mere fiction of modern fanaticism.

"These Calvinistic clergy," he added, "declaim against good works,
and exalt a dogmatic belief in certain crude opinions, as the only
necessary condition on which sinners can obtain the forgiveness
of Almighty God." Then he attempted to prove that the people must
necessarily become corrupt, among whom salvation is proclaimed,
without requiring, on their part, good works as the essential
condition of its bestowment.

"Look, my hearers," he exclaimed, "on the destructive tendency
of their style of preaching. As soon as the officiating priest
opens his lips and gives utterance to his sentiments, there is an
instantaneous commotion in his congregation. Those who lived in
peace are split into divisions, and the family or the village which
held the unity of the faith, as propounded by our pure apostolic
church, suddenly becomes the arena of religious disputations and
wrangling, and the temple of peace and unity becomes a Babel of
confusion and discord.

"Indeed, in _some instances_, children will rise up in rebellion
against the authority of their parents, till the parents, wearied by
their obstinacy, or subdued by their importunity, imbibe the same
fatal opinions, that they may regain their domestic peace.

"These priests are zealous, and they pretend that they have a
zeal of God; but it is the fire and the smoke, whose effect is to
darken and to desolate, rather than that clear and radiant light
which warms while it illumines, and gives a verdant bloom to every
springing blade and opening bud, while it directs the passenger
onwards on his journey. In a word, the labours of these men,
wherever they are successful (and such is the fatality attending
them that they are always successful), tend to give a retrograde
movement to our social habits and enjoyments, and to carry us back
to the gloomy times of the Commonwealth, when the Puritanical
devotee was seen weeping between the porch and the altar, but never
indulging himself in the innocent recreations of life.

"In fine, I feel myself compelled once more to warn you against
their doctrines, as contrary to the doctrines of our incomparable
prayer-book; to warn you against associating with them, or hearing
them preach, as you may be entangled by their sophistry before
you are aware, and while you will deplore, in common with myself
and others, their existence within the pale of our pure apostolic
church, you will endeavour, by your influence and your example, to
check the progress of the moral contagion which they have introduced
among us. That the common people, who know not the Scriptures, and
who despise the authority of their authorized teachers, should
embrace the Calvinistic doctrines, is not surprising, because they
give them a complete indemnity against every species of crime,
but that any of the well-educated and intelligent members of
society--any who have not sacrificed their virtue nor lost their
taste--should feel a predilection for them, is one of those moral
mysteries which can be accounted for only from one of two causes--a
partial derangement of intellect, or the magic charm of enthusiasm.

"To conclude: Are they zealous in propagating their doctrines?
be you zealous in opposing them; are they zealous in gaining
proselytes? be you zealous in reclaiming them; are they zealous in
putting an end to all the innocent enjoyments of social life? do you
display a superior degree of zeal in preventing such a fatal evil,
that we may enjoy life as we have been accustomed to enjoy it in our
social circles, and thus prove to a sceptical and a fanatical age,
that we can be religious without being melancholy or morose, and fit
ourselves for the happiness of a future world without sacrificing
the pleasures of the present."

When the service was concluded, the Roscoes walked home together,
but no one made any reference to the sermon, as all felt convinced
that it was directed against Mr. Roscoe, who appeared, during
the whole of the afternoon, unusually reserved. This reserve was
regarded by some of the family as a decisive evidence that the
sermon had produced its intended effect; and the polite and friendly
manner in which he received the Rev. Mr. Cole, who called in the
evening, seemed to confirm this opinion. Next morning, as they sat
at breakfast, the Rev. Mr. Roscoe said that he had anticipated
great pleasure from his visit, but, he added, "I certainly did not
anticipate the feast of delight which I enjoyed yesterday. Mr. Cole
surpassed himself. I think he gave us a correct portraiture of
modern Calvinism. O, it is a gloomy system of religion! just suited
for fanatics or enthusiasts. Don't you think Mr. Cole a very clever
and a very intelligent man?"

"Yes," replied Mr. Roscoe, "I think him clever and intelligent,
and a man of rather extensive reading. We have often passed many
pleasant evenings together in discussing literary and scientific
questions, and I have uniformly admired his dexterity in reasoning,
and the aptness of his illustrations; but, in my opinion, something
more than learning and intelligence is necessary to enable a person
to understand the scheme of salvation which is contained in the
Scriptures."

"But I presume you do not intend, like our modern fanatics, to
depreciate learning and intelligence?"

"No; I think a Christian minister cannot be too learned nor too
intelligent, but learned men do not always understand the things of
the Spirit of God, and some of the most intelligent have been known
to imbibe the most erroneous opinions. This, I suppose, you will
not deny; does it not then necessarily follow that something more
than learning and intelligence is requisite to enable a person to
understand the Scriptures?"

"O! I see you have imbibed one of the notions of our modern
fanatics. And is it possible that you can give up your understanding
to the dominion of fanaticism, which avows sentiments not less
derogatory to the dignity of man, than its unintelligible jargon is
offensive to pure taste? They say that no one can understand the
gospel unless he is taught by the Spirit of God. They think we must
be inspired to enable us to understand the Scriptures, which were
given by Divine inspiration, and which are able of themselves to
make us wise unto salvation."

"You have made several allusions to modern fanatics, and, from your
mode of expression, I conclude that you hold them in contempt."

"In sovereign contempt. They are the troublers of the church, and I
wish it were in my power to expel them."

"But if you were to expel all from the church who believe in the
necessity of a Divine illumination to enable us to understand the
Scriptures, you would retain none but those who disbelieve her
doctrines. In the homily on reading the Holy Scriptures you will
find the following passage: 'And in reading of God's Word he not
always most profiteth that is most ready in the turning of the
book, or in saying of it without the book, but he that is most
turned into it, that is, the most inspired with the Holy Ghost.'
And is there not, through the whole of the public service of our
church, a constant reference to the Holy Spirit as the agent by whom
the ignorant are instructed, the impure cleansed, and the morally
wretched consoled and made happy? Read the collect for Whitsunday:
'God, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful
people by the sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit, grant
us, by the same Spirit, to have a right judgment in all things,
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort, through the merits of
Christ Jesus our Saviour.' And if you turn to the service which
was read when you entered into priest's orders, you will find the
following verse, which breathes a language no less fervent than
scriptural:--

    'Come, Holy Ghost! our souls inspire,
    And lighten with celestial fire;
    Thy blessed unction from above
    Is comfort, life, and fire of love;
    Enable with perpetual light
    The dulness of our blinded sight.'

Can language more clearly or more forcibly express the necessity of
a Divine influence to aid us to understand the meaning of the Word
of God? And ought those to be stigmatized as fanatics, and expelled
from the church, who _actually_ believe their own recorded faith?
That would be an act of injustice no less flagrant than if a ruler
were to banish the faithful and loyal subject, while the convicted
traitor is permitted to enjoy the protection of the law and the
emoluments of office."

"But you will admit that there are fanatics in the church, who hold
some strange opinions, which do essential injury to society?"

"I admit that there are men who are called fanatics by those who do
not understand the doctrines of their own church. I once regarded
every zealous, and spiritual, and useful clergyman as a fanatic;
but, like others, I affixed no definite meaning to the epithet
which I employed. I found the word already coined, and I used it;
but I have since discovered its spurious qualities, and, as far as
my influence extends, I will prevent its circulation. We ought not
to stigmatize those who differ from us. If we think them wrong, we
ought to try to reclaim them, but in doing so we should make no
sacrifice of the spirit of the Christian, or the courtesy of the
gentleman."

"Then I presume you did not approve of the sermon which you heard
yesterday?"

"I did not approve of the _temper_ which Mr. Cole displayed. The
pulpit is a sacred place, and he who occupies it should always bear
a near resemblance _in spirit_, if he cannot in manner, to the
Prince of Peace. The weapons of the Christian minister never do any
execution except they are spiritual, and then they become mighty,
through God, to the pulling down of the strongholds of error, and
destroying the barriers which prejudice has raised against the
reception of the truth, and then the mind willingly submits to its
authority."

"I must confess that he was rather severe, perhaps too much so for
the sanctity of the pulpit; but the severity of his spirit did not
weaken the force of his arguments."

"But a bad spirit will often induce a wavering hearer to suspect
that the arguments are defective. An affectionate manner insinuates
itself into the heart, renders it soft and pliable, and disposes
it to imbibe the sentiments and follow the impulse of the speaker.
Whoever has attended to the effect of addresses from the pulpit,
must have perceived how much of their impression depends upon
this quality. But, instead of being cool and dispassionate in
his reasoning, and leading on the congregation from one stage of
conviction to another, by a regular process of proof, treating his
erring opponent as a fond parent treats a disobedient child, with
affection, even while a paramount regard for his welfare urges to
correction, Mr. Cole advanced with impetuosity into the heat of
the debate, dogmatized when he ought to have argued, instituted
invidious comparisons when he ought to have made an effort to
conciliate prejudices, denounced when he ought to have entreated,
and certainly left an impression on my mind that the display
I witnessed yesterday had little of the loving temper of pure
Christianity."

"But," said Mrs. Roscoe, "I really thought, from the friendly manner
in which you received Mr. Cole last evening, that his discourse in
the morning had given you as much pleasure as it gave us. Indeed, I
do not think that his spirit was bad; he spoke certainly with more
warmth than usual, but then he was anxious to convince you, I have
no doubt, of the errors which you have recently imbibed, and to warn
you of their dangerous tendency."

"If Mr. Cole displayed an antichristian temper in the pulpit, that
is no reason why I should behave unlike a gentleman in the parlour.
I shall always be glad to see him, and will treat him with the
respect which is due to his character and his office. If he thinks
I have imbibed any erroneous opinions, I shall have no objection to
give him an opportunity of correcting them; but if he calculated on
disturbing my belief in the doctrines of the Scriptures and of our
church, which I have recently embraced, he, by his mode of attack
yesterday, supplied a fresh proof of the adage, _that intolerance
defeats its own purpose_, as I am, if possible, more deeply
convinced of their truth and importance than I was before I heard
his sermon."

"I had heard," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "a great deal about Mr. Cole
before I left home, of his learning, and of his eloquence, and I
went to church yesterday with very high expectations; but I was
sadly disappointed. I listened to his sermon with great attention,
but I did not like either the sentiments, or the spirit, or the
design of the sermon. He was, when in the pulpit, more like a
gladiator aiming a deadly thrust at some living opponent, than a
minister of Jesus Christ preaching the truth in love. It certainly,
but no thanks to him, has put some new thoughts into my heart, which
I feel to be weighty and important, but which at present exist there
in a very wild and incoherent state."

"I am happy to hear you say so, dear aunt," said Miss Roscoe, "as
the incipient thoughts of a spirit, on entering and passing through
the great renovating process of Divine grace, are usually wild and
incoherent; but, in a short time, they are always reduced to obvious
and intelligible order."

"I don't quite understand you, my dear."

"But you will soon, dear aunt. The roll of Divine truth opens
gradually, and what at first is obscure and indistinct, becomes,
in the progressive unfolding, clear, intelligible, and perceptibly
harmonious; and then the comprehension of the wondrous scheme of
human redemption and salvation, against which we had yesterday
morning such a tirade of misrepresentation and abuse, is an easy,
and, I may add, a necessary action of the mind. The prophet Hosea,
speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says to the now
thinking inquirer, 'Then shall you know, if you follow on to know
the Lord.'"



BAPTISMAL REGENERATION A FICTION.


The right of private judgment on every question which stands
connected with the present or future happiness of man, is an
unalienable privilege. The exercise of this right has been, and
still is, proscribed by the genius of superstition; but the spirit
of Christianity not only sanctions but establishes it; and we are
commanded to bring every opinion which may be submitted to us to the
test of a close and severe examination. We are not to be controlled
or governed by the authority of men of learning, nor are we to
receive a doctrine as true, because it bears the marks of antiquity.

The priests of the Romish Church lay claim to infallibility; but
this extraordinary endowment is withheld from the laity, who are
commanded to receive, most implicitly, everything which they
advance, however repugnant to reason, or contrary to the Scriptures.
But this prostration of the understanding before the majesty of
the priesthood, and this tame submission to all the doctrines and
precepts which they may enforce, is an act which no intelligent
Protestant can perform.

If, then, we refuse to surrender the government of our reason
to the absolute authority of the ministers of one church, which
arrogates to itself the attribute of infallibility, shall we do it
to those of another, which makes no such lofty pretensions? We ought
unquestionably to hold in high estimation those who administer to us
the word of life; but as they are men encompassed with infirmities,
often differing from each other on the most essential articles of
the Christian faith, and liable to err in common with ourselves, it
is no less our duty than our privilege to compare what they advance
from the pulpit or from the press with the testimony of the Bible.
Did not Jesus Christ urge his hearers to search the Scriptures? and
when the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he employed
these words:--"I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say."

There is too much reason to fear, that while we boast of our freedom
from the spiritual dominion under which our forefathers groaned
before the Reformation, we are getting back into a state of bondage,
by voluntarily and pertinaciously adhering to ancient opinions on
religious subjects without investigating them; and hence, so few
among us are capable of distinguishing truth from error. Indeed,
so unpopular is the calm investigation of religious truth become
among a certain class of Christians, that it is deprecated as one
of the early symptoms of fanaticism. They will go to church, utter
their solemn responses, and listen to the sermon; but to compare the
sentiments of the sermon with the language of the Scripture, to see
if there be a strict accordance between what they hear and what they
read, or ought to read, is a practice which many would condemn, and
which comparatively few will adopt. Is it then surprising that we
meet with so many who are as ignorant of the Scriptures and of the
articles of their own church as they are of the Koran of Mahomet or
the Shasters of the Hindoos? Nor is this charge directed exclusively
against the lower orders of society, for it is equally applicable
to those who occupy high places in the intellectual, social, and
literary world.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the evening, as the ladies of the family were attending to their
needle-work, the Rev. Mr. Roscoe made an allusion to the sermon
which Mr. Cole delivered on the preceding Sabbath, and said, that
though the spirit which he displayed might be objected to, and some
of his arguments might be deemed inconclusive, yet he decidedly
agreed with him on the subject of baptismal regeneration. He went
on to say--"I know that the evangelical clergy maintain that every
person, even the most moral and virtuous, must undergo an internal
change before they can be fitted for the kingdom of heaven; but, as
Mr. Cole very judiciously observed, this is one of the wild notions
which spring out of the luxuriance of an enthusiastic imagination,
rather than out of the soil of a matured judgment."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But do you not believe in the necessity of
regeneration?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, but I believe that no other than baptismal
regeneration _is either necessary, or even possible_ in this world.
We are born[12] anew in baptism, and in baptism exclusively. As
you are fond of appealing to the authority of our church on the
disputable points of religion, you will allow me the same privilege.
When the child is baptized, the priest is taught to say, 'Seeing
now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate, and
grafted into the body of Christ's church, let us give thanks to
Almighty God for these benefits, and with one accord make our
prayers unto him, that this child may lead the rest of his life
according to this beginning.' Then follows this solemn form of
thanksgiving and prayer, which the priest is required to offer to
Almighty God: 'We yield Thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father,
that it hath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy
Spirit, to receive him for thine own child by adoption, and to
incorporate him into thy holy church; and humbly we beseech Thee to
grant that he, being dead unto sin, and living unto righteousness,
and being buried with Christ in his death, may crucify the old man,
and utterly abolish the whole body of sin; and that as he is made
_partaker_ of the death of thy Son, he may also be _partaker_ of his
resurrection: so that finally, with the residue of the holy church,
he may be an inheritor of thine everlasting kingdom, through Christ
Jesus our Lord.' And does not the catechism of our church teach the
child to say, in answer to the question, '_Who gave you this name?_'
'My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism, wherein I was made a
member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of
heaven?' What language can more plainly or unequivocally prove that
baptism is regeneration; and that the child who is thus regenerated
by baptism is made a partaker of the death of Christ, a child of
God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven? And as regeneration
can take place _only once, and does take place in baptism_, those
who imbibe the modern notions on this subject are convicted of error
by the authority of the church to whose decision they so often
appeal."

  [12] Some of the Tractarians speak in more guarded, yet in more
  ambiguous terms, on the regenerating power of baptism; but the
  majority of them entertain the belief which is expressed by the
  Rev. W. J. E. Bennett, in the following quotation from one of the
  last sermons he preached at St. Paul's, Knightsbridge, _see_ page
  193:--"Here is a great mystery; that by water in holy baptism is
  given a regenerating and life-creating grace--that by water we
  go down into the font foul and leprous; by grace we rise pure,
  spotless, and sound--that by water we go down into the font dead
  in trespasses and sins; by grace we rise up from the font alive in
  Christ."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I grant that the popular construction of the
passages which you have quoted supports your opinion, and if a
similar phraseology of speech were employed by the writers of the
New Testament, I should not hesitate to agree with you; but I do
not find such language in any part of the New Testament. I think
that the Liturgy and Articles are to be brought to the test of the
Scriptures, and not the Scriptures to that of the Liturgy. The
latter, though the first of human compositions, is nevertheless of
human authority; the former is given by the inspiration of God."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I admit that the Liturgy and the Articles of
our church are human compositions, and that they possess no weight
of authority unless they are in strict accordance with holy writ:
but do not the sacred writers in the most positive terms assert that
baptism is regeneration? Is not the following passage conclusive:
'But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man
appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration,
and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace,
we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life'"
(Titus iii. 4-7).

_Mr. Roscoe._--"This passage most certainly associates baptism and
regeneration together; but it does not say that we are _regenerated
by baptism_. The washing of regeneration, or baptism, is the mere
external sign of that moral purity which is the effect of the
renewing of the Holy Ghost. And that this is the meaning of the
passage, I appeal to your good sense; for, if we are regenerated by
baptism, where is the necessity of the renewing of the Holy Ghost?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I do not mean that baptism itself regenerates
us, but that the Holy Spirit regenerates us when we are receiving
the sacrament."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Simon Magus was one of the first converts to
Christianity; he was baptized by Philip, but he was not regenerated
by the Holy Spirit. He had been baptized, but he still remained
unholy, and 'in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of
iniquity.' This simple fact proves that baptism is not regeneration,
unless you are prepared to admit that a regenerate person may be
'in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity;' and if so, what
spiritual advantage does he derive from his regeneration? If by
baptism Simon Magus was made a child of God, and an inheritor of the
kingdom of heaven, it is evident that he required some moral change
after this, as we are expressly informed that his heart was not
right in the sight of God, and that he had no part nor lot in any of
the gifts of the Holy Spirit."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I candidly confess that this case of Simon
Magus seems to militate against the doctrine of baptismal
regeneration; or, at any rate, it clogs it with difficulties which
are not easily overcome."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"So I think, and so I should imagine every
person of common sense would think. In my opinion, it settles the
question."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But there are other difficulties which press
upon the doctrine, which seem to me insuperable. If baptismal
regeneration be the only regeneration possible in this world, and no
one can enter into the kingdom of heaven except he be regenerated by
water, what will become of those children who die unbaptized? Shall
we consign all the offspring of the Friends and of the Baptists to
a state of future misery, and nearly all the children of Scotland,
and of those of our own church, who die before the ceremony can be
performed; shall we plunge them, in fact, into hell, with the devil
and his angels, when we know they have committed no actual sin?
What is this but representing the mothers of earth bringing forth
children to people the infernal regions. Most horrible! Indeed,
rather than embrace a doctrine that entails after it such fearful
consequences, I could consent to close my Bible, as a revelation of
wrath rather than of mercy."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But I do not see that this consequence
necessarily follows; because Almighty God may of his goodness take
these children to heaven, though they may not have been baptized."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"What! if baptism be regeneration. Are not children
conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity? Do they not partake of
our impurity, and can we suppose that they will carry a depraved
nature with them into heaven? If so, evil abounds there no less
than here; and all the anticipations which we indulge of attaining
a state of unsullied purity and bliss after the close of life, must
be regarded as the illusions of the fancy:--No, their moral nature
must be changed; and if they are not baptized, it must be changed
by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, without the external ceremony,
which proves that regeneration is essentially different and distinct
from baptism. I will give you a quotation from the pen of an
elegant writer, which will, I think, decide the question:--'But
that baptism is not regeneration, is placed beyond all reasonable
debate by the following declarations of St. Paul: "I thank God that
I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius. For Christ sent me
not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words,
lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect" (1 Cor. i.
14, 17). Nothing is more certain than that, if baptism insures or
proves regeneration, Paul, who so ardently desired the salvation
of mankind, and wished to become, as extensively as possible, the
instrument of their salvation, could not thank God that he baptized
none of the Corinthians but Gaius, Crispus, and the household of
Stephanus. To him it would comparatively have been a matter of
indifference whether they accused him of baptizing in his own name
or not. Of what consequence could the clamour, the disputes, or the
divisions be, which might arise about this subject, compared, on the
one hand, with the salvation, and on the other with the perdition of
the Corinthians? Instead of thanking God in this manner, he would
have baptized every Corinthian who would have permitted him; and,
like a Romish missionary, have compelled crowds and hosts to the
streams and to the rivers in the neighbourhood, that they might
receive the ordinance at his hands. With still less propriety could
he say, if baptism were the means of regeneration, especially if it
insured or proved it, that Christ sent him not to baptize, but to
preach the gospel. Christ, as He himself hath told us, sent St. Paul
to the Gentiles and to the Corinthians, as well as other Gentiles,
_to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan
unto God_. In other words, Christ sent St. Paul to the Gentiles
to accomplish their regeneration. But if baptism be the means of
regeneration, or be accompanied by it, then Christ actually sent him
to baptize, in direct contradiction to the passage just now quoted.
From both these passages it is evident that baptism neither insures
nor proves regeneration, unless we believe that the gratitude of the
most zealous apostle rose in intensity in proportion as he failed in
accomplishing the design of his mission.'"

_Mrs. John Roscoe_ (addressing her husband).--"I think you must now
give up the point; for who can fairly stand against such plain and
powerful arguments?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But the doctrine is no less dangerous than
anti-scriptural; and when we reflect on the tendency which the human
mind discovers to derive consolation from any source of relief,
however vague or imaginary, we cannot evince too much ardour in
exploding the fatal delusion. In this country there are multitudes
of baptized persons who discover, at no period of their life, any
other proofs that they have been regenerated than what the parish
register supplies. If these persons, who have grown up in a state
of ignorance of Christianity, corrupt in morals and in manners, are
told by their clergyman that when they were baptized they were made
inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, will they not easily lull the
disquietude of their consciences to sleep, and flatter themselves
with the hope of final salvation, even while they continue the
servants, if not the slaves of sin? Will they, if warned to flee
from the wrath to come, apprehend any danger, seeing they are taught
to believe that they are already the children of God? O fatal
delusion! a delusion no less dangerous to the morals than it is to
the final happiness of man, because it leads him to ascribe the
origin of his religious character to a ceremonial act performed on
him at a period when he knew it not, rather than to his repentance
towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and teaches him that
he may become a glorified spirit in another world, even though he
lives and he is a sceptic or a blasphemer. Thus a little cold water
taken from a font, and falling from the holy hands of a regularly
ordained priest, imparts such a mysterious sanctity to the subject
whom it touches, as to render any moral or spiritual meetness for
the inheritance of the saints in light quite unnecessary. _How
wonderful!_"

It was amusing to watch the movements of Mrs. John Roscoe
during these discussions, and gratifying to hear her occasional
observations. She would sit sometimes as patient as a judge when
listening to the evidence on some grave charge against a prisoner
at the bar, and at other times she was as restless and fidgety as a
juryman anxious to deliver the verdict, that he might get home to
his dinner as quickly as possible. In general, she held a very tight
rein over her excursive spirit, out of respect to the two principal
disputants; but occasionally it would drop from her grasp, and then
she was off at a tangent.

"I think," said she, "a man's bump of credulity must be larger than
his head who would tell me, with decorous gravity, that he really
has faith to believe such an ecclesiastical dogma."

This remark somewhat disconcerted, though it did not displease her
husband, who rather liked to see her display her cleverness, but he
soon recovered himself, and addressing his brother, he said:--

"But these are the consequences which _you_ deduce from the
doctrine, rather than consequences which necessarily follow from its
admission. When the child is baptized we pray that he may _lead the
rest of his life according to this beginning_; which presupposes the
possibility that he may not. If he do not, he forfeits his baptismal
rights, and relapses into a state of condemnation and guilt."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Then I presume that, by his relapse into a state
of condemnation and guilt, he places himself in a moral condition
similar to the condition in which he would have stood if he had
never been baptized?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Exactly so."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"As a state of guilt and condemnation implies, on the
part of man, depravity and alienation from God, must he not undergo
some _moral change_ in his disposition, his principles, and his
taste, before he can loathe himself on account of his impurities, or
be fitted to dwell in the immediate presence of a holy God; as we
read that 'without holiness no man shall see the Lord?'"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Certainly; he must be made good and virtuous
before he can be admitted into heaven."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But if he were regenerated when he was baptized, and
there is no _other regeneration possible in this world_, you see the
dilemma in which you place a man who by transgression forfeits his
baptismal rights."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"What dilemma?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Why, in despair. You say he needs a moral change to
fit him for heaven; but as that change cannot be produced without
baptism--_and he has undergone the ceremony, which cannot be
repeated_--you place him under the ban of reprobation, unless you
adopt the only alternative which remains for you, that of admitting
him to heaven in his depraved state. Mr. Cole, in his sermon, was
very severe on the evangelical clergy for two things; he asserted
that, by their awful strain of preaching, they generally destroy the
peace of society; and by holding out the hope of salvation to the
most guilty, they destroy its virtue. These were certainly heavy
charges; but do you not perceive that they are charges which may
be brought with strict logical accuracy against the advocates of
baptismal regeneration? For, if they follow out their doctrine to
its legitimate consequences, they are compelled either to admit a
man into heaven in an unregenerated state, who by a relapse into sin
forfeits his baptismal rights, or, after his forfeiture, to tell him
that he cannot be regenerated, by which he is systematically and
inevitably consigned over to despair."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Well, I confess that the doctrine appears
involved in more oppressive difficulties than I ever conceived; and
yet, from the quotations which Mr. Cole gave us on Sunday from the
Fathers, it appears to have been a doctrine which was received into
the church very early and very generally."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, to quote the language of an eloquent writer,
'it is well known that, from a very early period, the most
extravagant notions prevailed in the church with respect to the
efficacy of baptism, and its absolute necessity in order to attain
salvation. The descent of the human mind from the spirit to the
letter--from what is vital and intellectual to what is ritual
and external in religion--is the true source of idolatry and
superstition in all the multifarious forms they have assumed; and
as it began early to corrupt the patriarchal religion, so it soon
obscured the lustre and destroyed the simplicity of the Christian
institute. In proportion as genuine devotion declined, the love
of pomp and ceremony increased; the few and simple rites of
Christianity were extolled beyond all reasonable bounds; new ones
were invented, to which mysterious meanings were attached, till
the religion of the New Testament became, in process of time, as
insupportable a yoke as the Mosaic law. The first effects of this
spirit are discernible in the ideas entertained of the ordinance of
baptism. From an erroneous interpretation of the figurative language
of a few passages in Scripture, in which the sign is identified with
the thing signified, it was universally supposed that baptism was
invariably accompanied with a supernatural effect, which totally
changed the state and character of the candidate, and constituted
him a child of God, and an heir of the kingdom of heaven. Hence
it was almost constantly denoted by the terms _illumination_,
_regeneration_, and others expressive of the highest operations
of the Spirit; and as it was believed to obtain the _plenary_
remission of all past sins, it was often, in order to insure that
benefit, purposely deferred to the latest period of life. Thus
Eusebius informs us that the Emperor Constantine, finding his end
fast approaching, judged it a fit season for purifying himself
from his offences, and cleansing his soul from that guilt which,
in common with other mortals, he had contracted, which he believed
was to be effected by the power of mysterious words and the saving
laver. "This," said he, addressing the surrounding bishops, "_is
the period I have so long hoped and prayed for, the period of
obtaining the salvation of God_." And no sooner was the rite of
baptism administered, than he arrayed himself in white garments,
and laid aside the imperial purple, in token of his bidding adieu
to all secular concerns.' We have here a fair specimen of the
sentiments which were generally adopted upon this subject in early
times; but if the Articles and Liturgy of our own church are to
be submitted to the test of the Scriptures, must not the opinions
of the ancients pass through the same ordeal? I would therefore
say of all the authorities quoted by Mr. Cole, 'To the law and to
the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is
because there is no light in them.' But you will permit me to add,
that if there be such mysterious efficacy accompanying the rite of
baptism, and such danger incurred by a relapse into sin after the
candidate has submitted to it, I think the ancients discovered more
wisdom in having it deferred till the period of their approaching
dissolution, than we do in submitting to it while surrounded by all
the fascinations of sense and the temptations to evil."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"I was never a zealous advocate for baptismal
regeneration, but now I repudiate it as an ecclesiastical fiction.
But then comes a very grave question, _What is regeneration?_"

_Miss Roscoe._--"Yes, aunt, one of the gravest and one of the most
important questions that can engage our attention."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"And I must have the question satisfactorily
solved. Indeed, I begin to apprehend personal danger, for, though
baptized, I may not be regenerated."



THE RETIRED CHRISTIAN.


The beauty of the morning tempted me to seek the recreation of a
solitary rural walk, and that I might not spend a useless day,
I made a selection of tracts for distribution. After sauntering
through many a pleasant lane and meadow, the freshness of the
grass, the beauty of the wild flowers, and the warbling of the
birds enlivening the scene, I came near to a mansion belonging
to the Marquis of B----, and, availing myself of the privilege
which he generously affords the public, I resolved to visit it.
Walking leisurely up the long shady avenue, I now and then caught
a glimpse of the venerable structure, and at length it came full
in view. It was an irregular building, of the Elizabethan period,
of considerable extent, and in excellent preservation. As I passed
from room to room, examining the articles of taste and of luxury
with which they were adorned, I thought within myself, how little
can all this splendour do to confer true happiness! The collection
of ancient armour interested me, and the portraits of the great
ones of former times carried my mind back to events too intimately
interwoven with our national history ever to be forgotten. Before
I left the library, I deposited between the leaves of some of the
books lying on the table a few tracts, which I hoped might arrest
the attention of some of the members of the noble family, and having
commended these silent messengers of truth to the Divine blessing, I
retired, delighted with what I had seen.

I walked on some little distance, when, on making a sudden turn, I
descended a winding slope, which led to the front of a neat cottage,
partially concealed by the evergreens which surrounded it. An air of
finished neatness and scrupulous order was everywhere visible, and
its quiet simplicity formed a pleasing contrast to the magnificent
mansion I had just left. The barking of a little dog, and the
crowing of a cock, satisfied me that it was inhabited, though I
saw neither man nor child. Discovering a tasteful seat, formed by
the bended branches of an ash and hazel that grew in fellowship,
I sat me down to rest myself. I did not long remain in suspense
as to the character of the inhabitants, for, while indulging my
fancies, I observed, at some distance, a venerable-looking man
advancing towards the cottage. As he drew near, I rose and saluted
him: he returned the compliment with graceful ease; and his manner
at once convinced me that, though in a rustic garb, he had been
accustomed to mingle in polite society. His frank and kindly
manners at once relieved me from the embarrassment into which his
unexpected appearance had thrown me, and it was with feelings of
interest and pleasure that I accepted his invitation to step into
his cottage and rest myself. The interior of this retreat was as
neat as the outer decorations were beautiful; the furniture was
simple and inexpensive; the only thing which particularly attracted
my attention was a large painting, which, he informed me, was a
favourite family-piece. While I was admiring the picture, and
carefully examining the group there represented, his wife entered
the room, and, after a little general conversation, she pressed me
to remain and dine with them. We soon became somewhat familiar;
and, throwing off reserve, conversed freely, as two old friends
are wont to talk when met together after a long absence. In course
of conversation, my venerable host gave me some account of his
history. His life had been a chequered one, on which had fallen the
lights and shadows of prosperity and adversity. I ascertained that
his name was Armstrong, that he had three children--his daughter,
who was married to an attorney in Bristol, and his two sons, who
resided in London. He had acquired a handsome fortune by industry
and frugality, and having disposed of his business, had retired to
the country to spend the evening of his days in retirement. But
soon the charm and novelty of the country wore away; he was not
happy completely isolated from commercial life and intercourse
with general society; and resolved again to return to more active
pursuits. A favourable opportunity soon occurred, when he disposed
of his country residence, and entered into partnership with a
banking firm of reputed respectability. But, ere long, he found that
he had been deceived; the concern became bankrupt, and in his old
age he lost at one sweep the accumulated property of former years.
The shock to himself and his wife was at first overpowering, but,
when awakening from the stupor into which it had thrown them, they
rejoiced that their children were in a very prosperous condition,
and they had no doubt but they would prove to them comforters in
the hour of their distress. In this they were not mistaken: an
arrangement was soon made for the removal of their parents from the
scene of their sorrow and misfortunes; the cottage which they now
occupied was purchased for them, and to secure them from all anxiety
respecting their future support, an annuity was settled upon them
for life.

When Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong removed to the cottage, they brought
with them an old domestic, who had been in their service for more
than thirty years, and she, with a man-servant, made up the whole of
their family. As they were strangers in the neighbourhood, and in
a manner cut off from intercourse with the world, they lived quite
retired, finding, in the gratification of promoting each other's
happiness, more satisfaction than they had ever enjoyed in the days
of their prosperity.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Adversity," I remarked, "though dreaded when at a distance, is
often met on its near approach with calmness, and not unfrequently
it becomes a source of greater happiness than prosperity has ever
been able to impart."

"Prosperity," said Mr. Armstrong, "possesses greater attractions
than adversity, but it has a more pernicious influence on the mind.
The prayer of Agur I admire for its simplicity and suitableness,
seeing that wealth and extreme poverty often place our principles
in danger:--'Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not
before I die; remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither
poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be
full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor,
and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.'"

"There is no exercise," I observed, "which has such a salutary
influence over the human heart, and over the formation of the
character, as prayer; for, by associating us with the Author of all
excellence, we imperceptibly imbibe a portion of his goodness; it is
the hand which lays hold of his strength; and then we enjoy peace,
because we feel secure amidst all apparent dangers and positive
privations."

"But, Sir," said my host, "how few pray!--how few understand the
nature of prayer!--how few engage in this holy exercise from
choice, or derive from it that satisfaction and delight which it
is calculated to impart!" Looking at me with calm earnestness, he
added, "Such is the magic influence which the fleeting events of
life have over us, that we remain comparatively indifferent to the
realities of an eternal world, till some disaster arises to break
the charm. The afflictive dispensation which deprived me of all my
property, and left me dependent on my children, though severe, has
proved the most beneficial occurrence of my history. It has taught
me the vanity as well as the instability of all earthly possessions;
it has led me to seek pure and substantial happiness in fellowship
with the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ."

He then informed me that, from his childhood, he had been a regular
attendant at his parish church, and endeavoured to practise the
relative virtues which he so frequently had heard inculcated. But,
during the whole of this time, he had no just conception of the evil
of sin, or of the degeneracy of his nature, or of the necessity of
that faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ which purifies the
heart. He was religious from habit, not from conviction; and he paid
respect to the ceremonies of public worship because others did so,
rather than from any benefit which he expected to derive from them.
The cottage he now occupied was at a considerable distance from the
parish church, and on his removal to it he felt quite free from the
control of the opinion of others, and usually spent his Sabbaths at
home. One day, however, his curiosity was excited by some rumours
which reached him respecting the rector, and he resolved to go to
hear him. "We all walked together," said he, "and on entering the
church we were struck with the size of the congregation, and the
unusual seriousness of the clergyman, who was officiating in the
desk. But it was when in the pulpit that he displayed the fervid
and impassioned eloquence of a holy man of God. There he exhibited
the word of life with such clearness, and with such power, that we
were delighted; and though he advanced some things that were new to
us, and which did not exactly agree with our own opinions, yet we
could not refrain from going again on the following Sabbath. Since
that day we have never absented ourselves, except when illness has
compelled us; and now I can adore the wisdom and the love of HIM
who broke up my former establishment, in which I lived a useless
life, and fixed my residence in this humble retreat, where I have
been brought to hear the pure gospel, which has been the means of
infusing spiritual life into every member of my household."

"The ways of heaven," I remarked, "are sometimes dark and
mysterious; but when their ulterior design is accomplished, the
obscurity vanishes, and we are enabled to perceive marks of infinite
wisdom and benevolence in the events which, at an early stage,
appeared as the precursors of judgment and of woe."

"Yes, Sir, the dispensation by which I lost my property was, indeed,
dark and mysterious; it involved me in the depths of trouble, and
I had no resources of consolation opened to me, but the sympathy I
received from my children. It did not occur to me that a gracious
Providence was intending to promote my happiness by smiting the
prosperity which I was enjoying. I reproached the agents of fraud,
who had deceived me, and I reproached myself for being deceived. I
was stung to the quick by the disgrace into which I was plunged;
and when I retired to this cottage, I felt more disposed to murmur
against the providence of God, than to offer the tribute of a
grateful heart."

"It is the influence of religion which induces within us a
disposition of mind in accordance with the sovereign will of our
heavenly Father, and which teaches and inclines us to derive our
purest enjoyments from the manifestations of His favour. Hence, he
who possesses the religious principle in full energy, is fitted to
meet any trial, however severe, and to reside in any place, however
humble, because he believes that all things are working together for
his good, and that there is no spot in the universe from whence the
God of providence and of grace is excluded."

"In my former country residence, to which I had retired with a large
fortune, I soon began to feel out of my element. The decoration of
my house, and the laying out of my gardens and pleasure-grounds,
kept me employed for a time, but when these were completed, I
found that the inactivity of a retired country gentleman was ill
suited to my active habits. I became unhappy, and was glad to
leave the country to enter again into commercial pursuits. When
I came here I dreaded a renewal of the experiment; and though I
believed that adversity would assume and retain a powerful influence
in reconciling me to my fate, I soon found that adversity alone
could not induce submission to the will of heaven, nor produce
contentment. The mind cannot derive support from the cause of its
depression. This must come from some other source. I have found it,
or rather it was given me, when and where I looked not for it. I now
can say, what I never could say when in the height of my prosperity,
that I am really happy and contented. I have no wish to return again
to the busy world."

"Solitude," I remarked, "is most favourable to the spirit of
devotion; yet there are many of the virtues of the Christian
character which cannot be displayed but before the public eye--such
as candour, and benevolence, and zeal; and as we are not to live to
ourselves, do you not think, Sir, it is our duty to go forth and let
our light shine before others?"

"Most certainly, Sir; and though WE are apparently shut out from
the world, and have but few of its temptations to allure, and none
of its cares to distract us, yet we live quite near enough to its
evils to afford us an opportunity of displaying those graces of the
Christian character to which you have alluded. Our nearest neighbour
is a man of wealth, and of extensive influence in the parish; but
he looks down on us with contempt, because we have embraced what he
calls _this new religion_, and he does everything in his power to
irritate and mortify us. Just over yonder hill there are several
cottages, which are inhabited by coal-miners, who are as ignorant
and as depraved as any description of persons I have ever known; and
where ignorance and vice abound there is sure to be wretchedness.
Hence, though we do not occupy any prominent station in the eye of
the public, we are not exempted from the privilege of attempting to
do good to others, nor from the honour of suffering persecution for
righteousness' sake."

"As you are now in the possession of a larger portion of happiness
than you ever previously enjoyed, do you not feel a stronger
attachment to life than you ever felt?"

"Yes, Sir, I do; because I now perceive that our life is given for
a nobler purpose than I ever conceived before. I used to think that
it was given us for the acquisition of wealth and honour, and for
the gratification of the taste and feeling; but now I believe that
the original design of its bestowment is that we may honour and
love God, and, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, be prepared
to enjoy His presence in the eternal world. But though I am more
attached to life than ever, I have no objection to resign it, when
it may please God to call me to do so. At my advanced age, though
my health is good, and my constitution unbroken, I cannot expect to
live many years; yet I feel the strong pulsation of a life over
which neither the first nor the second death have any power. I
should like to live on earth, if it were the will of God, till I see
my dear children embrace the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ; but if
I should be removed before that event takes place, I have no doubt
but I shall unite with the ministering angels and the spirits of the
redeemed in celebrating it in HIS presence."

"I am happy to hear you speak with so much confidence on such an
important subject, as I have long thought that the fears which
Christian parents so often and so long cherish respecting the
salvation of their children, are no less dishonourable to God than
destructive of their own peace. He has commanded us to use the means
for the conveyance of truth to their minds; and he has given us many
promises of sure success; and ought we, after all this, to despair?
He may withhold the renovating power, to make us more importunate
in prayer, and to convince us that human means alone will not prove
effectual; but still it is our duty and our privilege to expect
that his word shall not return unto him void, but that it shall
accomplish that which he pleases, and prosper in the thing whereto
he sends it."

I was much interested by the conversation of my host, and my
gratification was increased by hearing that he attended the ministry
of the Rev. Mr. Guion, of whom he spoke with all the warmth of
filial attachment; that he was personally acquainted with my
esteemed friend, the Rev. Mr. Ingleby; and had often heard of Mr.
and Mrs. Stevens, though he knew them not. I now bade this aged
couple farewell, and set out to retrace my steps to Fairmount,
highly pleased with the adventures of the day, which I found as
conducive to my mental and spiritual improvement, as they had been
beneficial to my health.



SPIRITUAL REGENERATION A REALITY.


An occurrence took place in the course of the day which revived the
question of the preceding evening. Two funerals passed along the
road in front of Mr. Roscoe's mansion. The first was that of a man,
who died in the prime of life; and the second was that of an infant,
who expired soon after its birth. The man had been a poacher, and,
like most who devote themselves to illicit practices, he had lived
a dissolute life. He rarely if ever attended church; usually spent
his Sabbaths in idleness, or in the indulgence of his vicious
propensities; was notorious for the vulgarity and impurity of his
manners; and such was his aversion to religion, that when the Rev.
Mr. Cole called to see him, only a few days before his death, he
bluntly told him that as he had lived without religion, he had made
up his mind to die without it.

The infant was the first-born of an interesting couple, who had been
married little more than twelve months. They lived in a genteel
residence at the farther end of the village, and were celebrated
amongst their neighbours no less for their affection for each other,
than the sufferings which they endured before their union was
consummated. The cupidity of their parents kept them apart for a
period nearly as long as Jacob served for his beloved Rachel, when
death came, and by leaving them orphans, broke down the barrier
which had obstructed their union. But they were both too deeply
affected by their loss to evince any symptoms of pleasure; and such
was the respect in which they held the memory of their parents, that
they permitted one year to pass over their heads before they were
married. On the nuptial morning, a large number of the villagers
greeted them with their simple benedictions as they left the
church; and when they alighted from the carriage to enter their own
dwelling, they were surrounded by a group of females dressed in
white, who presented them with a garland of flowers--expressing, at
the same time, a wish that their joy might prove of a less fading
nature.

"It is," said Mr. Roscoe, "by bringing the incidents and facts of
real life to bear on the doctrines of our belief, that we are able
to test them. The man who has just gone to his grave was the son
of the parish clerk, and I well remember when he was baptized. If
regeneration takes place when the ceremony of baptism is performed,
he was then made a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom
of heaven. But what moral good resulted from this supposed change
in his state and character? None. He grew up a wild lad--he lived
without religion--and without it he died. But the child whose
funeral we have just seen pass--this babe, the first-fruits of
conjugal bliss, which just made its appearance in this valley of
weeping, a branch too tender to thrive in such an uncongenial soil,
after languishing for a few seconds, experienced a premature decay.
It was a branch from the wild olive, and required the same spiritual
grafting to fit it to luxuriate in the garden of the Lord as a more
hardy plant. But if this spiritual operation cannot be performed
except when the sacrament of baptism is administered, as some
assert, then is this tender scion a brier or a thorn, whose end is
to be burned, for it withered and died before the waters of healing
could be procured. The impure and impious ruffian, who dies in the
act of scornfully rejecting the Christian faith, passes at once into
the kingdom of heaven, and takes rank with prophets, and apostles,
and martyrs; while the little lovely babe, when waking up into a
state of consciousness, instead of feeling the tender embraces of a
mother, is startled into terror and anguish, by the sight and sound
of infernal and lost spirits! Really this baptismal regeneration
of the Tractarian churchman is such a monstrous doctrine, that I
am at a loss to conceive how any man of common sense and humane
feeling can appear as its advocate; it is a libel on the Christian
faith, a daring outrage on parental feeling, and altogether a fatal
delusion."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I have been reviewing my opinion on the
question of baptismal regeneration since our last discussion, and
I find the difficulties in which it is involved too numerous and
too formidable to be fairly overcome. I find I must abandon it; but
in doing this I am plunged into deep perplexity; for I am utterly
incapable of conceiving _what regeneration can be_, unless I imbibe
the notions of the evangelical clergy, which I never can do."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"To object to truth, attested by conclusive evidence,
merely because it is admitted by a class of men against whom strong
antipathies are improperly excited, is a mark, not of wisdom, but of
folly; and if you push such a determination to the full extent of
its application, you will be reduced to the necessity of giving up
your belief in the existence of a God--the Divine mission of Jesus
Christ--the doctrine of providence--the resurrection and the final
judgment--as they believe these doctrines in common with you."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Very true; but you know that prejudice is more
difficult to subdue than reason; and hence it may be termed the
forlorn hope of truth, which but few can take. But as the question
is one of paramount importance, and we have leisure to discuss it, I
wish it to be pursued, and I shall be glad if you will give me your
definition of regeneration."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"The word regeneration rarely occurs in the New
Testament; but there are many other terms employed, which convey
the same leading idea; such as, being born again--born of the
Spirit--born of God--being made a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Hence, when the apostle had exhorted the Ephesians to put off,
with respect to their former conversation, 'the old man, which is
corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts,' he adds, 'and be renewed
in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which after
God,' or in conformity to His image, 'is created in righteousness
and true holiness;' and in his address to the Romans he says,
'and be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the
renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and
acceptable, and perfect will of God.' These passages decidedly
prove, at least in my opinion, the necessity of some _moral change_
in the principles, and dispositions, and tempers of our mind; and I
am not aware that I can give you a better definition of it than you
will find in the preface to a volume of discourses which I have in
my library:--'_By regeneration is meant, a prevailing disposition
of the mind to universal holiness, produced and cherished by the
influence of the Divine Spirit operating in a manner suitable to the
constitution of our nature, as rational and accountable creatures._'"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"The passages which you have quoted
unquestionably imply the necessity of some moral change; and I can
conceive a propriety in their application to the Jews, or to pagan
Gentiles of ancient times; but they cannot, with any show of reason,
be applied to us, who are born Christians, and educated in the
belief of Christianity."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"No, we are not born Christians. We are born in
a country where Christianity is professed, and of parents who
bear the Christian name, and we have been educated in a belief of
Christianity; yet no one is a Christian until he is renewed in the
spirit of his mind, and is in some measure conformed to the image of
Jesus Christ, who was holy and undefiled. To prove the correctness
of this statement, I will refer you to our old friend, Mr. Trotter.
His father, you know, was a good man; but he himself, with all his
excellencies, was an avowed sceptic; and his brother was no less
dissolute in his habits than he was corrupt in his principles.
You will admit, I presume, that some moral change is necessary in
relation to such men."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Certainly; if a man be a sceptic, his opinions
must be changed before he can become a believer; and if his habits
are depraved, they must be changed before he can become a Christian.
But the majority are virtuous, and to these I suppose you do not
intend to apply the doctrine."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"You may know many whose characters are adorned
with the various traits of excellence, but have you ever known a
perfect man?--a man in whose temper there is no flaw--in whose
disposition there is no perversity--in whose principles there is no
obliquity--one who uniformly, and on all occasions, displays the
most entire and irreproachable goodness?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"No, I must confess that I do not know such a
one. I quite admit that the most perfect and the most amiable men
I have ever known, have, on close acquaintance, disclosed some
imperfections of character, more or less."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"And may not a person acquire a high degree of virtue
even while he is destitute of every _religious_ principle? Our
friend, Mr. Frowd, as you may well remember, was a most excellent
and virtuous man, and even a zealous Churchman; but you know that he
rejected the Divine origin of Christianity, and supported the church
as a mere human establishment, which served to give stability to
the government, by operating on the prejudices and passions of the
masses of the people through the medium of her clergy. Hence we must
not confound morality and religion, as though they were essentially
the same thing, seeing that the most moral may be as sceptical in
their opinions as the most impure, and are often even more unwilling
than they, to receive the humiliating doctrines and self-denying
precepts of the gospel."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I admit the correctness of your statement,
and I assure you that this view of the matter has often excited my
astonishment. I have in my parish a gentleman, who is very humane
and benevolent--a faithful friend--beloved by all who know him; but
he has not been to church for nearly twenty years, except when he
came to receive the sacrament, on his being elected sheriff of the
county. I have sometimes spoken to him on the subject of religion,
but he shrewdly gets away from my arguments by saying, 'Sir, you are
to be commended for doing your duty.'"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"And will not these facts convince you that the moral
disorder of our nature lies in the heart, which may be deceitful
and desperately wicked in the sight of God, even while some of the
virtues adorn the character. Have you yet to learn, my brother,
that pride, which disdains vulgar vice--that a love of fame and
that self-interest may generate many social and domestic virtues,
even while the inner man is enmity against God, neither recognizing
the authority of his law, nor embracing the truths of the gospel?
On this subject I can speak with strong personal feeling; and if
I may refer to a passage in my own history, it is not to gratify
vanity, but to illustrate the distinction which the Scriptures
preserve between morality and personal religion. I lived for many
years a virtuous life, attached to the church, and devoting much of
my time to the study of the Scriptures, reverencing God as a great
and good being, and believing in the Divine mission of Jesus Christ;
but during the whole of this time I was ignorant of the alienation
of my affections from God--of the actual depravity of my heart--of
the essential evil of sin; nor could I understand how we are to be
saved by grace, through faith, until it pleased God to enlighten my
understanding; then all obscurity vanished, and now, I trust, I know
the mysteries of truth more perfectly."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"You who embrace what are termed evangelical
sentiments, always employ a mystical phraseology of speech, which
no one can understand but the initiated; and this is one principal
cause of the prejudice which prevails against them amongst the more
intelligent and less enthusiastic part of society."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But our mystical phraseology of speech, as you
are pleased to term it, is the very language of Scripture; and
the inspired writers who have employed it, would doubtless use it
now, if they were speaking to us. You, then, ought to transfer
your objections from us to them; but in doing so, you would be
encountering an authority which you profess to venerate. But, after
all, the objection is less against the phraseology of Scripture,
than against the truth of which it is the appointed vehicle of
communication. Pride, under some peculiar modification, is the
epidemic disease of our nature; but none are more under its dominion
than men of intelligence, of taste, and of virtue; and it is against
this passion that the gospel of Jesus Christ directs the thunder
of its power. How mortifying to a man of intellectual fame, whose
superior genius feels equal to the comprehension of whole systems
of truth, by a single exertion of its power, to be told that
'_whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child,
shall not enter therein!_' How mortifying to a man, whose amiable
temper, whose social habits, whose fascinating manners, whose
constitutional virtues have combined to raise him far above his
fellows, to be told that he must come down from his vantage-ground,
to kneel at the same throne of grace with publicans and harlots, and
implore forgiveness in language equally humiliating with that which
they employ!"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I have always thought that the cultivation
of the virtues predisposed the mind to receive the truths of
Christianity; but if your statement be correct, a virtuous man may
be no more fit for the kingdom of heaven than a profane one."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Nor can he be, _unless he is born again_. He may,
like the Pharisee in the gospel, trust in the merit of his virtues
for salvation, instead of trusting in the redemption made by Jesus
Christ; but having no just perceptions of the degeneracy of his
nature, he repudiates with disdain the doctrine of regeneration,
which Jesus Christ asserts to be universally necessary."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Then you believe that _all_ men are depraved,
though not _equally corrupt_; and that all, notwithstanding their
various shades of excellence, stand in equal need of the moral
change which you think regeneration denotes?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"We should remember that Christianity is essentially
a restorative dispensation; it bears a continual respect to a
state from which man is fallen, and is a provision for repairing
that ruin which the introduction of moral evil has brought upon
him. Exposed to the displeasure of God, and the curse of his law,
he stands in need of a Redeemer; disordered in his powers, and
criminally averse to his duty, he equally needs a Sanctifier. And it
is to men of every age and of every clime, as guilty and depraved
sinners, without paying any respect to the lighter degrees of their
depravity and guilt, that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings the glad
tidings of complete redemption; but if any reject it, through a
false conception that they do not require its renovating power or
its cleansing virtue, they are, in the language of the Scriptures,
emphatically denominated unbelievers, on whom the wrath of God
abideth continually."

The conversation was here interrupted by the entrance of the ladies,
who informed us that they had made a call at Fairmount, where they
had been highly gratified.--"Indeed," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "I must
confess that I was most agreeably disappointed. Mrs. Stevens is no
less accomplished than intelligent; and I was delighted with her
frank and cheerful disposition, and the elegant ease of her manners.
Instead of a demure lady, disgusted with the world, and absorbed
in the anticipations of a future state, she talked pleasantly of
men and things, as a contented and a happy resident amongst them.
I could perceive that religion was her favourite theme; yet there
was no gloom with it, nor overweening self-conceit. She appeared
almost like an angel pleading the cause of heaven, and that in such
language and with such feeling as I never before heard or witnessed.
She disengaged the religious principle from all its connections and
associations with human forms and ceremonials, and presented it in
its own native simplicity and purity; I could see that _it_ was to
her no less a source of felicity than a subject of contemplation and
discussion. She must be, indeed, a happy woman."

"It is generally supposed," said Miss Roscoe, "that the religious
principle, when it takes possession of the mind, pervading all its
powers, and regulating all its movements, necessarily becomes the
source of perpetual dejection and sorrow; but a more false notion
never obtained currency. True religion is not a source of misery,
but a perennial spring of contentment; the day-star of hope, the
rising and setting sun of human happiness."

"But you know, my dear," said Mrs. Roscoe, "that your religion
prohibits you from participating in many sources of amusement in
which you once took great delight; and as they are so innocent and
so agreeable, I cannot but think that in this respect it must be
painful to you to make the sacrifices which your religion requires
you to make."

"If, mamma, I looked back on my former sources of gratification
with a lingering eye, and still longed to participate in them, I
certainly should feel the restraining power to be painful; but _the
grace of God_, by renewing my mind, has entirely changed my taste;
and now the theatre, the ball, or the card-party, would be to me as
much a source of actual pain as they once were of ephemeral joy.
While sojourning in this vale of life, the enjoyment of fellowship
with my heavenly Father is more than a recompense for the loss of
those pleasures which I have abandoned."

On which Mr. Roscoe remarked: "If the revelation of mercy was
intended to promote our happiness, it certainly would fail in
accomplishing its design if it proved a source of misery."

"But," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "I have never yet conceived of
religion as being a source of _mental bliss_. I have felt it a duty
to be religious, but never a pleasure. I have read over my prayers,
but they never came from my heart. I have practised some of the
self-denying virtues of religion, but it has been more from a sense
of duty than from actual preference. I have sometimes thought of
going to heaven, but I have never derived any gratification from
anticipating it."

"O no," said Mrs. Roscoe, interrupting her, "neither have I."

"But," replied Mrs. John Roscoe, "one thing is certain, there is
some essential difference in the origin and the character of that
religion which is a source of real pleasure, and that which is
embraced from a mere sense of duty."

"Yes," said Mr. Roscoe, "the religion which is embraced from a mere
sense of duty, is the religion of forms and ceremonies; while the
religion which is the source of mental bliss, is the religion of
principle and of feeling. The one may be assumed or laid aside as
fancy or as convenience may dictate; but the other, taking up its
abode in the heart, liveth and abideth for ever. All false religions
take man as he is; they accommodate themselves to his errors and
his passions; they leave him essentially the same as they found
him; _they_ follow the man, they are formed after _his_ likeness:
whereas in genuine religion the _man_ changes--he is modelled
after the image of Jesus Christ. The gospel, instead of flattering,
tells him that in his present state he is incapable of performing
its duties or of relishing its joys; that he _must_ be transformed,
or he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; and what it requires
it produces; hence all is order and harmony. For everything in the
dispensation of the gospel and the constitution of the Christian
church is _new_; we have 'a _new_ covenant;' we 'approach God by a
_new_ and living way;' we 'sing a _new_ song;' we are called by a
_new_ name; according to his promise we look for '_new_ heavens and
a _new_ earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.' 'He that sitteth
upon the throne saith, Behold I create _all_ things _new_.' Can we
wonder then that we are required to 'put off the old man with his
deeds, and to put on the _new_ man;' 'to walk in _newness_ of life;'
'to serve him in the _newness_ of the spirit, and not in the oldness
of the letter?' that we are assured 'that neither circumcision
availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a _new_ creature;' '_that
if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed
away, behold, all things are become new_?'"

"I feel," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "under the impulse of strong
excitement. Some strange emotions--conflicting emotions--which
I know not how to embody in distinct and appropriate forms of
expression. I have been religious--scrupulously religious--and yet
my religious ideas have been vague and indefinite; my religion has
never engaged my affections. I felt charmed while listening to the
chaste eloquence of Mrs. Stevens, when speaking of the practical
influence of the love and grace of Christ on her soul; and your
correct distinctions between the religion of mere form and the
religion of principle, confound and subdue me; but I want two
things, which you, Sir, and Mrs. Stevens seem to possess--I want
a spirit to discern the distinction, and a heart to feel it. Yes,
there must be a mental change in me before I can see as you see, and
feel as you feel."

Her husband, interrupting her, exclaimed, "My dear, you must put a
curb on your imagination, or before you leave for the sober quietude
of home, you will become an evangelical enthusiast."

"To be candid; I am awe-struck by the new discoveries I am making,
or rather by the new visions of religious truth which are rising
before me. Indeed, I must have the religion of principle; that of
mere form has no life, no power; it throws out no attractions; it
touches not the heart to excite its affections; it does not bring me
into contact with a living Saviour; nor does it inspire me with a
hope full of immortality."

"My dear," said her husband, "you surprise me."

"You cannot feel more surprised than I feel myself. I feel on the
eve of some great crisis in my moral history, and yet I see nothing
distinctly, except the utter worthlessness of a religion of mere
form without a living principle."

We were all too much astonished by this sudden outburst of
impassioned feeling, to make any observations; at length Miss
Roscoe broke through the silence, which was felt to be painfully
oppressive, by saying, "I hope, my dear aunt, the Divine Spirit
is gently leading you into the way of peace and the paths of
righteousness, for his name's sake. What is now obscure will
soon become clear; wait patiently on the Lord until the day of
explanation dawn, and then the day-star of hope will arise in your
heart."



THE EVIDENCES OF SPIRITUAL REGENERATION.


On returning from a walk in the garden, the Rev. Mr. Roscoe said to
his brother, "I have just been having a talk with your gardener, and
I think you have got one of the most industrious and intelligent
workmen I have ever met with; he both understands how to cultivate
his garden and how to cultivate his mind."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, Robert is a very good and a very clever
servant; he respects the apostolic injunction, and renders
obedience, not with eye-service, as a man-pleaser, but as a servant
of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. He is conscientious
and intelligent; and I believe that he would neither waste my time
by indolence, nor my property by negligence or extravagance."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"A good servant is very valuable; but, like
most other valuable things, he is very rare. Your gardener seems
much attached to you, and says he hopes to die in your service.
From the style of his conversation, and the extent of his general
information, I should suppose he has had a superior education, and
that he must have seen better days."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"No; he never occupied a higher rank in life than
he does at present. His father, who is still living in one of my
cottages in the village, is a very worthy man, who has brought
up a large family, and he often boasts of having done it without
receiving any assistance from the parish. He is a fine specimen
of the true English character in its primitive state. About three
years since he was very ill; and as we knew that his resources were
scanty, we voted him twenty shillings at a vestry meeting, which
the overseer was requested to give to him. But when the money was
presented he said, 'I am much obliged to you, Sir, and to the other
gentlemen, for your kindness, but I will never eat bread that's
bought with parish money; no, Sir, I won't disgrace my family in my
old age.'"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"That is a noble spirit! If such a spirit were
generally diffused among our labouring population, there would be
more virtue and more happiness in the country. I am not surprised
that you have such a servant, now I find that he has such a father.
Is the old man evangelical in his principles?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, and in his practice; but he was not able to
infuse his principles into his son, who for many years evinced
strong antipathies against his father's piety. He inherited his
honesty, and industry, and high independent spirit; but he was very
profane, which was a source of great distress to the good old man."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But I should hope that he is not so now, for I
was led to infer, from some expressions which he used, that he was a
very virtuous man."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, he is virtuous, and more than virtuous--he
is now decidedly pious. He is a living witness of the doctrine of
regeneration; and if you go and ask him what it is, he will tell you
that _it is an internal change in the dispositions and propensities
of the mind, produced, not by the application of water in baptism,
but by the renewing power of the Divine Spirit_."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I did not think that talking of the old man and
his son would lead us to the subject of our late discussion; but as
it has come up again, let me ask you one question--If regeneration
do not take place at the time of our baptism, when does it take
place, and how will it be possible for us to decide whether we have
been regenerated or not?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"If it invariably take place at the time of baptism,
according to the popular construction of our prayer-book, and the
current belief of the Tractarian members of our church, nothing more
would be necessary to convince us that we are the children of God
than an attested copy of our baptismal register, which I presume, on
reflection, you will deem too preposterous and too hazardous to be
admitted."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But admitting, for the sake of the argument,
that baptism is regeneration, where would be the hazard of letting
our assurance of it depend on an attested copy of our parish
register?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Why, suppose such an attested copy could not
be obtained, then we could have no substantial proof of our
regeneration. We may be the children of God, and we may be
inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; but if the officiating minister
neglect to record the fact of our baptism, or if the register-book
should be lost or burnt, it will be impossible for us to prove it,
even though the Spirit itself bear witness with our spirit that we
are the children of God. To what a dilemma, then, may a son of God
be reduced! He may be in the possession of every moral evidence
of his filial relation to his heavenly Father--he may love him,
fear him, and glorify him; he may have put off the old man, which
is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and may have put on
the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true
holiness: but not being able to establish the fact of his baptism
by the production of a genuine copy of its insertion in the parish
register, he is not able to prove the fact of his regeneration. 'A
situation this of doubt, suspense, and anxiety, with regard to our
eternal welfare, to which it is reasonable to believe that, with
such a revelation of his will as Christianity professes to be, the
Father of mercies and God of all comfort would not expose his humble
creatures.'"[13]

  [13] Dr. Mant.

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I am satisfied that it does not invariably
nor necessarily take place at baptism; but then, when does it take
place?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"It does not uniformly take place at any particular
age, but precisely at that period in the life of man which the
Spirit of God determines. Some, I have no doubt, are regenerated
by the Holy Spirit in the days of infancy, and grow up into life
under the influence of the holy principles which were implanted
in their soul when they had no consciousness of it. I have a book
at hand, from which I will read you a passage that is quite to
the point:--'God has wisely given to the female sex a peculiar
tenderness of address, and an easy and insinuating manner, which is
admirably adapted to the great end for which he intended it, that of
conveying knowledge to children, and making tender impressions on
their minds; and there is hardly any view in which the importance of
the sex more evidently appears.'

"It seems to me that children may early come to have some
apprehensions of what is most important in religion. They may have a
reverence for God, and a love for him, as that great Father who made
them, and that kind friend who gives them everything that they have;
and they may have a fear of doing anything that would displease him.
And though it is not so easy for them to understand the doctrines
peculiar to a Redeemer, yet when they hear of Christ as the _Son of
God, who came down from heaven_ to teach men and children the way
thither, and who died to deliver them from death and hell, their
little hearts may well be impressed with such thoughts as these,
and they may find a growing desire to be instructed in _what Christ
is_ and _what he taught and did_, and also to do what shall appear
to be his will. And wherever this is the prevailing disposition,
it seems to me that the seeds of holiness are sown in that soul,
though but small proficiency may be made in knowledge, and though
the capacities for service may be very low. But the tendency to that
which is evil and the aversion to that which is good, which children
generally discover, is a decisive proof that very few are renewed at
this early period. They often outgrow their religious impressions,
yield to the force of temptations, and allow themselves to be
drawn aside from the path of duty by the attractive charms which a
deceitful world holds out to allure and destroy. But, while glowing
with health and devoting themselves to the pleasures and amusements
of this life, it often pleases God to arrest them in their career
of folly as they are entering on the age of manhood, or during the
first few years of it, and then they yield themselves unto God as
those that are alive from the dead.

"'Some,' to quote from the same author, 'are wrought upon by Divine
grace in the _advance and even in the decline of life_. There are
but few who arrive at what may be called old age, and of them but
very few who, at that period, feel the great change; nor shall we be
much surprised at this if we consider the inveterate nature of bad
habits, which renders it almost as hard for them that are accustomed
to do evil to learn to do good, as it is for the Ethiopian to change
his skin, or the leopard his spots.'"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But one should imagine that the more our reason
is improved, and the nearer we get to another world, the more
solemnly and deeply the heart would be affected by the great and
awful truths of religion. You never thought so much nor so deeply
on religious subjects when you were young as you do now; and,
therefore, I wonder you agree with your author in supposing this to
be a very unfavourable period to be regenerated."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Very true; but I cannot see one of my own age in
the whole circle of my acquaintance, who has been impressed in a
similar manner to myself. 'It is in vain to reason against facts,'
says a judicious writer, 'and experience proves that it is an
_uncommon thing_ for persons to be awakened and reformed in old
age; _especially if they_ have been educated in the principles of
religion. Nevertheless, to prove the infinite energy and sovereignty
of Divine grace, God is sometimes pleased to renew even such: He
touches the rock which has stood for ages unmoved, and the waters
flow forth; He says to the dry bones--live, and they are animated
with life; and then, with the vigour of a renewed youth, they devote
themselves to God.'"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Then you think that this great change in the
human heart may take place at any period of life, though you think
that the season of youth or early manhood is the most favourable."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I do."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Will you now tell me by what sort of evidence a
person who is actually regenerated acquires a satisfactory knowledge
of the fact?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"The apostle says, 'Therefore, if any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold,
all things are become new.' When an immoral man undergoes this
internal renovation, there will be such a change in his habits and
in his conversation that it will be conspicuous to all who know
him. The swearer will fear an oath--the drunkard will put from him
the intoxicating cup--the Sabbath-breaker will keep holy the day
of rest--the impure, who have been as a walking pestilence in the
social world, will become chaste--and those who have displayed the
more malignant and ferocious passions, will distinguish themselves
by their meekness, gentleness, and humility."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But may not this reformation take place in the
character of the more dissolute, without any change being effected
in the dispositions and propensities of their hearts?"

_Mr. Rosco._--"Yes; the influence of persuasion, of example, of
self-interest, and of mortified pride--the decay of the vigour of
the animal passions, and a fearful apprehension of future judgment,
will sometimes operate a most surprising reformation in some of the
more licentious; but when it proceeds from any of these causes, if
they do not relapse into their former course of evil, they become
satisfied with a mere scantling of exterior morality--evincing, at
the same time, the utmost degree of aversion to the things of the
Spirit of God. But when this reformation in the character proceeds
from the renovation of the heart, it resembles the shining light,
which shines clearer and brighter until the perfect day; those who
undergo it become decidedly pious, and usually engage in the holy
exercises of religion with a high degree of animation and delight.
They will speak in the most exalted terms of the Redeemer--of the
greatness of his love, and of the sovereignty of his grace; they
will discover the most intense concern for the spiritual welfare
of others in whom sin is reigning unto death; and while they will
often look back with astonishment on the scenes of danger from which
they have been delivered, they will boldly and cheerfully devote
themselves to the service of Christ, notwithstanding the opposition
or the persecution they may have to encounter. I remember, when my
gardener, Robert, felt the great change, he became all at once so
anxious to go and hear Mr. Ingleby preach, so much attached to his
Bible, so zealous for the conversion of his fellow-servants, and so
fond of conversing on the essential doctrines of the gospel, that I
thought at the time he would lose his senses; but now I can easily
account for it all; and though some lighter shades of imperfection
still rest on his character, yet he holds fast his integrity, and is
a living witness of the efficacy of the gospel, which is the power
of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"If I mistake not, you have asserted that
this renovation of the heart is as necessary for a moral person,
whose character is adorned with many social virtues, as for one
who is openly profane. Now, if we admit this to be correct, what
perceptible change can take place in his conduct when he is renewed,
and by what evidences can _he_ be convinced of it?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"There will not be that visible transition, in his
case, from a state of depravity to a state of purity; but the moral
man, when regenerated, will become a _pious man_. He will discover
the same anxiety on the question of his personal salvation--the
same attachment to the Bible--the same zeal for the conversion
of others--the same disposition to converse on the essential
doctrines of the gospel, as the regenerated immoral man; and he will
ascribe this change to the same supernatural cause; and, by the
avowal of his sentiments and by his decision, he will provoke the
same expression of scorn and contempt from the men of the world.
There will be a striking similarity between his character and his
religious habits after his regeneration, and the character and
religious habits of one who was previously an immoral man, but who
has _been renewed in the spirit of his mind_; and they will both be
in possession of more satisfactory evidences of their regeneration
than any exterior change which their character and their life may
supply."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"What are those _other_ evidences of
regeneration to which you now refer?"

Mrs. John Roscoe now became much excited. "Yes," she said, "that's
the important question I want explained. I have been living many
years under a most fatal delusion, for though baptized, I am not
regenerated; nor do I as yet know what regeneration is. Be very
simple and plain in your explanation." She now sat looking and
listening with a fixed intensity of anxious earnestness, reminding
me of the appearance of a defendant whom I once watched in a crowded
court, during the prolonged consultation of the jury, whose verdict
was to secure to him the possession of his rich inheritance, or
reduce him to comparative pauperism.

_Mr. Roscoe._--"A person who is regenerated will be introduced
as into a new world; the transition from his former to his new
moral condition, whether it takes place suddenly, or by a gradual
process, will be so clear to his mind that he cannot doubt it; he
will form new and more accurate perceptions of the character of
God--of his own character--of the visible and invisible world--and
of the official character of Jesus Christ; he will feel the force of
obligations pressing upon him, of which he had previously formed no
conception, and he will discover sources of enjoyment of a new and a
more refined order."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I fear you are now taking me into an imaginary
region, where we shall be both lost amidst the obscurities of a
fanatical and enthusiastic belief."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I am as great an enemy to fanaticism as yourself;
but you will permit me to say that this term is often affixed as a
stigma on personal piety. I am now merely stating facts, which are
attested by the evidence of experience. Do we not read in the Bible
that the renewed man has the eye of his understanding enlightened?
Does not this expression imply that before his renovation his
understanding was darkened, through the ignorance that was within
him? And can we suppose that he discovers no fresh objects of
contemplation and delight when this new power of spiritual vision
is imparted? He has new apprehensions of the spirituality and
omnipresence of God--of his majesty and purity--of his power and
patience--of his goodness--and especially of his condescension
in hearing and answering prayer. And when he turns his eye in
upon himself, he discovers his guilt, his depravity, and his
unworthiness; and exclaims, Woe is me, for I am unclean! He is no
less astonished at the Divine forbearance towards him than he is at
his own insensibility and ingratitude; and while he offers up the
tribute of praise to the God of his mercies, he abhors himself, and
repents in dust and in ashes. But his chief attention is fixed on
the person of the Redeemer--on the efficacy of his death--on the
prevalence of his intercession--on his amazing and boundless love
for sinners--even the chief. On these grand and important themes he
dwells with the most enraptured delight. They now appear before him
invested with a charm all their own; and he is no less astonished
when he remembers his former indifference to them, than he is at
that death-like insensibility which the great majority around him
discover. The pleasures and the pursuits of the world, which once
engrossed so large a portion of his attention, and so powerfully
interested his passions, now sink into insignificance when compared
with the realities of the invisible state; and though he feels no
disposition to neglect his present duties, yet he often anticipates,
with intense emotions of delight, the glory which is to be revealed
on entering the kingdom of heaven. Having been redeemed by the
precious blood of Christ, and sanctified in part by the eternal
Spirit, he now feels the powerful obligations of gratitude and love
constraining him to yield himself to God, to serve and glorify
him. He can now without regret leave his sinful pleasure, and from
meditation, prayer, and listening to the gospel's joyous sound, he
can derive real and substantial happiness.

"But one of the most satisfactory evidences of regeneration is an
aversion to sin, and an ardent desire for an entire conformity
to the purity of the Divine nature, which every renewed man
feels--an aversion which is not directed exclusively against open
immoralities, but which extends to the principles of evil which
lie concealed in the recesses of the heart. Hence, his prayer will
be--Cleanse thou me from secret faults; keep back thy servant from
presumptuous sin; let no iniquity have dominion over me; lead me
not into temptation, but deliver me from all evil. But the renewed
man is not more anxious to be preserved from the dominion of sinful
passions and principles, than he is to become holy, even as God is
holy. And as he knows that this assimilation can be produced only
by immediate intercourse with God, he walks in a state of habitual
communion with him; and though he is not always conscious of his
presence, nor always favoured with the sensible manifestations of
it, yet he cleaves to him in the purposes of his heart. Now, I
appeal to you, if such a change in the character, in the views,
and in the tastes of a man, is not a powerful evidence of his
having undergone that internal renovation or regeneration which the
Scriptures represent to be indispensably necessary to fit us for
the kingdom of heaven."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Why, I must confess that such a change is a
more rational evidence of regeneration than the simple fact that the
baptismal ceremony has been performed; but how few of those who have
been baptized possess any such evidence of their being the children
of God, and the inheritors of the kingdom of heaven."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"This is too true; and, alas! what an appalling
truth!"

Mrs. John Roscoe, who listened with profound attention to the whole
of this discussion, on rising with her niece to take a stroll in
the garden, said, "What a burlesque on the sanctity of our pure and
sublime faith, to see an immoral man, when reproved for his vices,
and warned to flee from the wrath, deliberately appeal to the fact
of his having been baptized, to prove that he is a child of God, and
an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven! Can we conceive of anything
more puerile, or more calculated to encourage persons to riot in
sin, fearless of the fearful consequences? It is quite time this
fatal heresy was driven out of our church, and torn out of our
prayer-book."

"I think so too, aunt; but what commotion would be excited amongst
our church-going people if any legal attempt were made to substitute
the simple and significant baptism of the New Testament for this
delusive papal ceremony of baptismal regeneration. Why, many would
rather have their Bibles mutilated than their prayer-book. The
Bishop of Oxford calls it a Churchman's blessed inheritance, which
ought to be preserved entire; no change in a book which is so
perfect."



ON CONVERSION.


Returning with Mr. Roscoe and his brother from a survey of some
ancient ruins, which reminded us of the departed heroes of olden
times, and of the legendary tales of their strange and adventurous
life, which are still rife amongst the people who reside in this
vicinity, we overtook Mr. Stevens, who consented to spend the
evening with us, and we walked on together to Mr. Roscoe's mansion.

After tea our conversation turned on the rise, progress, and
character of Methodism, when the Rev. Mr. Roscoe gave it as his
unqualified opinion, that its introduction into this kingdom was
no less fatal to the honour and harmony of the church, than the
irruptions of the Goths and Vandals from the trackless deserts of
the North, were to the literature and sovereignty of the Roman
empire. "It came," he observed, "at a period when no danger was
apprehended; and from the meanness of its appearance, and its
entire want of the attractions of intelligence or of taste, no
one could calculate on its exciting that commotion, or acquiring
that degree of influence over the popular mind, which its history
records, and which we all ought deeply to deplore. To extirpate
this fatal heresy, or to arrest it in its destructive course, I
fear is now impossible; but we ought certainly to be on our guard,
lest we should accelerate its march, either by that supineness
which neglects to defend the passes, or that neutrality which looks
with indifference on the conquests of an enemy, if he leaves us in
the undisturbed possession of our own little territory. Though you
cannot agree with the Rev. Mr. Cole in his opinions on baptismal
regeneration, I think you must agree with him in his remarks on the
preposterous conversions which are the boast of our modern fanatics.
Indeed, what man of learning or of taste can read the periodical
journals of enthusiasm without feeling disgusted, and if he were not
thoroughly established in his belief of the Divine origin of our
holy religion, he must, I think, become a sceptic."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Men of learning and of taste, with some few
honourable exceptions, very rarely discover any strong attachment
for the humiliating doctrines or the self-denying precepts of that
holy religion, whose Divine origin they professedly admit. The
religion which they admire is not the religion of the Scriptures,
but one modified and adapted to their taste and propensities.
Would the poets or prose writers of modern times, who praise, in
harmonious numbers or well-turned periods, the religion of their
country, welcome that religion if she were to disengage herself from
the attractions of the mitre, and the associations of sacred altars
and antique buildings, and rise up before them in the simplicity
of her attire, and, with an authoritative voice, as when she first
despoiled Greece and Rome of their elegant mythology, demanding from
them repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? If
she were to speak to them of sin, of their sins, she would excite
the smile of ridicule; if she were to urge on them the necessity of
repentance, lest they perish, she would provoke their contempt; and
if she were to require from them that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
which by its own reaction purifies and ennobles the human soul,
she would be despised and rejected, no less than the enthusiasm of
Methodism. But though the Rev. Mr. Cole reprobated, in very strong
terms, the preposterous conversions of the fanatics of modern times,
he did not, I believe, deny the necessity of conversion, nor say
that it was impossible."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"O no, he gave us the following quotation from
the excellent and judicious tract[14] which the justly celebrated
Dr. Mant has published on the question: 'Conversion, according to
our notions, may not improperly be said to consist of a rational
conviction of sin, and sense of its wickedness and danger; of
a sincere penitence and sorrow of heart at having incurred the
displeasure of a holy God; of steadfast purposes of amendment
with the blessing of the Divine grace; of a regular and diligent
employment of all the appointed means of grace; and of a real
change of heart and life, of affections and conduct, and a resolute
perseverance in well-doing.' And I may quote the next paragraph from
this judicious tract, which says, 'The triumph of such conversion as
this is not attended by alternations of extreme joy and despondency,
of the most ecstatic rapture and the most gloomy despair; sometimes
by heavenly exultation, and sometimes by the agonies of hell. It has
little of what is brilliant and dazzling to decorate, little of what
is magnificent and imposing to dignify and exalt it.'"

  [14] The reader is referred to two tracts on Regeneration and
  Conversion, published by Dr. Mant, and circulated by the Society for
  the Promotion of Christian Knowledge.

_Mr. Roscoe._--"When I first read that tract, I very much admired
it, and I have circulated many hundreds, thinking that it would
check the progress of evangelical sentiments; but, on a recent
perusal of it, I felt much astonished when I recollected the
satisfaction and the pleasure which it once afforded me; and I fear
that, by giving it circulation, I have assisted in perpetuating the
delusion under which such a large proportion of all ranks in society
are advancing to the eternal world. I certainly do not object to
his definition of conversion; but the highly-wrought reflections
which you have just quoted, are, in my opinion, an impeachment of
the accuracy of his reasoning and of the fervour of his piety. If
they have any meaning, they are intended to prove that the _gentle_
excitement of the passions constitutes a legitimate evidence of
conversion; but if the passions should be _strongly_ excited--if
they should _overflow_, and dare to wet the couch of a penitent
with the fast-dropping tear--if they should touch on the borders
of the joy which is unspeakable and full of glory--or if they ever
should sink into despondency, or rise to a hope full of immortality,
then they change their character, and become, not the evidences
of conversion, but of fanaticism. I object to such a statement as
unphilosophical, and calculated to produce the very evil it is
intended to prevent. Two men, whose mental temperament varies from
cool apathy to the highest degree of a nervous sensibility, may
sincerely repent of having, by their sins, incurred the displeasure
of God; but to suppose, with Dr. Mant, that they will both feel in
the same exact proportion, and that proportion the lowest possible
degree of excitement, would be to betray consummate ignorance of the
constitution of the human mind. These two men, who feel a degree
of sorrow for sin, and of joy for the promise of forgiveness, that
accords with the exact susceptibility of their nature, are placed by
the _judicious_ Dr. Mant in very opposite columns--the one amongst
the sincere penitents, the other amongst the deluded fanatics. But
this is not the only absurdity which such a classification involves;
for it necessarily tends to plunge the man of strong passions into
despair, because he feels too acutely, while it keeps the man of
more moderate passions in a state of uncertainty, lest he should not
have felt quite enough."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But will you not admit that the annals of
Methodism record many instances of extravagant feeling, which
neither a reference to the varying temperament of the mind, nor the
sober language of Holy Writ, will account for or justify; such as
extremes of weeping and of laughter, sobs, and shrieks, and groans,
and wailing, and gnashing of teeth--the voice now stifled by agony,
and now bursting forth in tones of despair; tremors, and faintings,
and droppings to the ground, as if struck by lightning; paleness
and torpor, convulsions and contortions; things terrible to behold,
too terrible to be borne, and which words cannot describe. Can you
suppose that such scenes are the effect of Divine truth producing a
rational conviction of sin, and a keen sense of its wickedness and
danger? are they not rather the consequences of fanaticism?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"The symptoms which you have enumerated are sometimes
apparent, I have no doubt, even when the _heart_ is untouched by
the subduing power of the grace of God, and may be referred to the
strong excitement of the animal passions, when stirred up from their
dormant state by the impassioned eloquence of the preacher; but at
other times we may regard them as the visible and audible signs
of a genuine conversion to God, the utterances of a soul at the
period of its new birth, when in the act of passing from death to
life. And though I should prefer the truth being felt and received
into the heart in the calm of composed and silent listening, yet I
would rather see an entire congregation bathed in tears, sobbing,
and even groaning aloud, while their minister is addressing them on
the sublime and awful realities of the eternal world, than witness
that apathetic indifference which is so generally apparent--a
listlessness which is something like a judicial insensibility."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I admit that there is too much apparent
indifference in our congregations to the sermons of the clergy; but
there may be a strong undercurrent of emotion, even when there are
no floods. But to revert to what I call the extravagant symptoms of
feeling in connection with Methodism, the line of distinction which
you have drawn between the causes to which we may refer them may be
substantially correct; but I presume you do not intend to maintain
that they are ever, even in the most sober and modified degree, the
necessary accompaniments of conversion?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"No, certainly not; but if there be sorrow in the
heart for having incurred the displeasure of a holy God, ought we
to be surprised if the eye be suffused with tears? and if there
be a rational conviction of the danger to which the commission of
sin exposes us, ought we to be surprised if the breast heave with
tumultuous swellings of alarm and dread? Shall an apprehension of
deserved wrath awaken no terror? or a hope of redeeming love inspire
no joy? Why, a man must be metamorphosed into some other being, not
to have his passions stirred, from the very depth of his soul, when
such awful and transporting scenes are passing before his mental
vision."

_Mr. Stevens._--"I am astonished that any clergyman should condemn
the strong and visible excitement of the passions at the period
of conversion, when there are so many passages in the Scriptures
which attest it. The writer of the book of Proverbs says, 'The
spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a _wounded spirit
who can bear_?' And if a deep wound be inflicted on the soul
of man, which he is incapable of healing or of enduring, shall we
turn round upon him and aggravate the intensity of his anguish,
by employing the strong symptoms of his grief as evidences either
of insanity or fanaticism? The impiety of such an act would be no
less censurable than its cruelty. And does not the prophet tell us
that when the Spirit of grace is poured out on the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, that 'they shall look upon him whom they have pierced,
and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and
shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his
first-born.' This prediction was fulfilled when the three thousand
_were pricked in their heart_, and cried out at the close of Peter's
address, _Men and brethren, what shall we do_? And shall the charge
of fanatical extravagance and delusion be brought against these
primitive converts, because they cried out, and asked aloud, in the
hearing of all the people, what they should do to escape from the
wrath they had deserved?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Mr. Cole admitted that the penitents in
former times were sometimes extravagantly affected, because their
conversion was miraculous, but he maintained, and I think very
satisfactorily, that there are no _instantaneous conversions in
modern times--the thing is impossible_. If you recollect, he proved
that the instantaneous conversions recorded in the Scriptures were
effected by the force of miracles, but as these have ceased, men
must be wrought on now by the more slow process of argument and
persuasion; and he supported his opinion by the following quotation
from Dr. Mant: 'When the conversion was sudden or instantaneous, it
was the consequence of miraculous evidence to the truth. When the
preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost added to the church three
thousand souls, they were men who had been amazed and confounded
by the effusion of the Holy Ghost, and the supernatural gift of
tongues.'"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, they were confounded and amazed when they heard
the apostles speaking in different languages, but this miracle, so
far from effecting their conversion, merely excited the ridicule
of many, who, mocking, said, 'These men are full of new wine.' But
after they had listened to Peter's discourse, they were 'pricked
in their heart, and then said unto Peter, and to the rest of the
apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do?' Miracles attested
the Divine mission of the apostles, _but it was the truth_ which
the apostles preached that became the means of the conversion of
the people. And though the miraculous evidences of the apostolic
commission have ceased, because they are no longer necessary, yet
the truth, which is the instrument of conversion, is preserved pure
and entire; and when it is faithfully and energetically preached, it
is still the power of God to salvation. Shall we say that he, who
has all power in heaven and earth, cannot, if he please, effect the
conversion of sinners as suddenly in the present day as in the times
of the apostles."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"If you recollect, he quoted Dr. Mant to prove
the possibility of such sudden conversions. 'Not that I would be
understood to assert that Providence may not, _perhaps_, even in
the present day, be sometimes pleased to interpose in a manner
more awful and impressive than is agreeable to the ordinary course
of his proceedings, and to arrest the sinner in his career of
infidelity or wickedness, and to turn him from darkness to light.'
What he maintained was, that these sudden conversions are not to be
expected by the clergy who preach to Christian congregations, which
are composed of those who have been trained up in the belief of
Christianity."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I have no doubt that many who have been trained
up in the belief of Christianity have, in the process of their
training, felt its moral influence in producing repentance towards
God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, though they may not
know the time when they first felt its power in enlightening and
renewing them, or when they passed from death unto life. The whole
process of their conversion has been conducted so silently and so
gradually--they have been led on by such imperceptible steps from
one degree of knowledge and of grace to another, and it has been
with so much hesitating precaution that they have embraced the
consolatory promises of mercy--that they have erected no monumental
pillars to commemorate any great moral revolution in their
character, nor placed any sacred landmarks by which their progress
in the life of faith can be traced. But are your congregations
composed exclusively of this description of hearers? No; you may
sometimes see all the varieties of the human character sitting
around you when you are in the pulpit; the Sabbath-breaker, the
swearer, the debauchee, the seducer, the scoffer, and the mere
formalist in religion. Must not these persons be converted before
they can enter the kingdom of heaven? And how is their conversion
to be effected? You employ your arguments to convince them of the
Divine origin of Christianity, and they _are_ convinced of it,
but still go on in a course of sin. You employ the force of moral
suasion to induce them to turn from iniquity to righteousness,
but such is the fatal obduracy of their hearts, that it makes no
impression. What can you do now to insure success?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Why, if people will not be converted by
argument or persuasion, they must take the consequences upon
themselves. I don't know anything more that can be done. We must
leave them to take their own course, and if they perish, we can't
help it. They doom themselves to perdition."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But if you read the New Testament with close
attention, you will perceive that there is a power associated with
a faithful and enlightened ministry, which makes it not the letter
of instruction merely, but the spirit which giveth life. Did not
the Saviour, when he gave the apostles their commission, say, 'Lo
I am with you always, even to the end of the world?' Is it not to
his immediate presence with the first preachers of the gospel, that
the sacred historian everywhere ascribes the signal success which
crowned their labours, and not to the force of miracles? If a great
multitude at Antioch turned to the Lord, it was because the hand
of the Lord was with them; if Lydia believed in consequence of
giving attention to the things which were spoken, it was because
the Lord opened her heart; if Paul planted, and Apollos watered
with success, it was the Lord who gave the increase; and highly as
they were endowed, they did not presume to rely on the efficacy of
their own addresses, or the force of the miraculous attestations
of their own mission, but confessed that it was through God that
they became mighty and triumphant in all their ministerial labours.
If, then, his presence is associated with a faithful ministry, and
the apostles invariably ascribed their success to the concurring
testimony of his power, and if he promise to be with his ministers
through every succeeding age, ought you to overlook it? Will you
boast of your uninterrupted succession in the ministerial office
from the times of the apostles, while you undervalue the importance
of the presence of the Lord to give success to your official
labours? or do you suppose that now Christianity is grown venerable
by her age, she can turn men from darkness to light--from the power
of Satan to God--without the concurring testimony of that Almighty
power on which she relied in the days of her youthful vigour?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"These quotations and references undoubtedly
prove that our Saviour must give the success to our ministry; but
I think it would be very injudicious to state such a fact to our
congregations."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Why so?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Because it would lower the clergy in their
estimation if we were to say that we are not invested with a
plenitude of power to accomplish the design of our appointment, and
might lead the people to wait for a miraculous conversion, instead
of trying for it in the regularly appointed way."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Then you must admit that the writers of the
Scriptures, who wrote under the plenary inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, _acted a very injudicious part, and have set us a very
improper example_, as they have placed the fact of their personal
insufficiency, and their entire dependence on their invisible Lord,
in a prominent point of view. Indeed, the consequences of such an
admission would be alarming, as in that case we should be compelled
to pass a censure on the wisdom of the Divine Spirit for allowing
such facts to be placed on record, if they are calculated to produce
a pernicious effect on the popular mind. It is evident to me, from
your last remarks, that you, in common with all the clergy of the
anti-evangelical school, have imbibed some very fatal errors, which
must render your ministrations worse than useless; must, in fact,
render them pernicious, because deceptive, both to yourselves and to
your people."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"And do you really think so? This certainly
is a very grave imputation on our order, and one which ought not
to be advanced unless you can maintain its correctness, with an
array of very clear evidence. Why, you now insinuate that we are
self-deceived, and are deceiving others. What proof can you bring of
this?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Your first error, and it is a capital one, is the
self-sufficiency of the clergy to accomplish the design of their
appointment. This may be true, if we view them merely as appointed
by human authority to conduct a prescribed service and administer
the sacraments. This you can do. But the more spiritual functions
of the ministry you cannot perform by virtue of a self-sufficient
power."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"To what spiritual functions do you refer?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Why, to the conversion and spiritual renovation
of sinners, and the administration of effective consolation to a
wounded spirit. If any order of ministers, under the Christian
dispensation, ever possessed the power of doing this, we must admit
that the apostles of our Lord possessed it in a pre-eminent degree.
But they disclaimed the possession of such a self-sufficient power,
and acknowledged their absolute dependence on the concurring grace
of God, and the fervent and effectual prayers of their pious lay
brethren. The apostle Paul, when trying to allay the ferment which
the spirit of contention had raised in the church of Corinth, and
to detach the people from the popular idols of their admiration and
confidence, speaks out boldly and explicitly on the question of
ministerial insufficiency and dependence: 'For while one saith, I
am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who
then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed,
even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered;
_but God gave the increase_. _So then neither is he that planteth
any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the
increase_' (1 Cor. iii. 4-7). We know that opinion has a powerful
influence in the formation and development of character, and in no
order of men does it operate with more direct and constant force
than on the clergy; hence, if a clergyman thinks he is invested with
a plenitude of power to accomplish the design of his appointment, he
will live in a state of comparative, if not absolute independence
of God: he will not be a man of prayer; I mean, he will not wrestle
in prayer with God, to render his public ministry successful in the
conversion of sinners; _such a thing will not come into his mind_.
He thinks of himself more as a priest in the church, than as a
minister of Christ, labouring for the spiritual good of the people.
His self-sufficiency, which keeps him independent of God, tends to
inflate him with spiritual pride; he becomes arrogant, and expects
that the people will place themselves in submissive subjection
to his authority--believe what he dictates, and celebrate what
he prescribes. But when, like Paul and the rest of the apostles,
a clergyman has a piercing conviction of his insufficiency to
execute the trust committed to his charge, he will never enter a
pulpit to preach till he has been in his closet with God--praying
for assistance from him, and for the putting forth of his Divine
power, through the medium of his otherwise ineffective agency. His
opinion of himself, his feelings, and his retired devout exercises,
all harmonize with the following quotation, which I will now read
to you: 'Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle
of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the
Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly
tables of the heart. Who also hath made us able ministers of the
new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter
killeth but the spirit giveth life' (2 Cor. iii. 3, 6). And while
such a clergyman will depend on God for the success of his labours,
rather than on any conceived self-sufficiency, he will also, in
imitation of the apostles, place a subordinate degree of dependence
on the fervent prayers of his believing brethren. 'Finally,
brethren,' says Paul, who could work miracles to attest the Divine
origin of the message he delivered to the people, 'pray for us, that
the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as
it is with you' (2 Thess. iii. 1)."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"And what is the second error which you think we
hold?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Why, you teach the people to depend on you for
spiritual blessings, instead of directing them to look to God, from
whom cometh every good gift, and every perfect gift; hence, they
come to church, go through the order of the service, and withdraw
when it is over, more like self-moving machines, whose movements
are regulated by laws imposed on them by human skill and authority,
than like intelligent beings, who feel their responsibility to
God, and their dependence on him. And this is the great practical
evil which is inflicted on the people, by the clergy assuming to
themselves a sufficiency of power to accomplish all the purposes
of their ministry--their hearers are not a praying people. Now, to
me nothing is more obvious, if I take the meaning of the uniform
language of the Bible, than this great important fact, that prayer
on the part of a minister and his hearers, is made essential to
their spiritual prosperity and happiness. Hence, after the promise
of a new spirit and a new heart was given, to excite the eager
expectation of the people of Israel: 'Thus saith the Lord God, I
will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it
for them' (Ezek. xxxvi. 37). Hence the importance and necessity of
prayer. Can we expect forgiveness unless we pray for it? and is not
the moral renovation of our nature of equal importance? and if, in
the economy of salvation, we are to be sanctified by the Spirit of
God as well as justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, are we to
be reprobated as deluded when we invoke his purifying agency? Let
us look around us, and what shall we see? What!--a scene not less
affecting than that which struck the eye of the prophet when he
received his commission from above to enter the mystic valley of
death. It was full of bones: 'And, behold, there were very many in
the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.' He was asked, 'Can
these dry bones live?' and he answered, 'O Lord God, thou knowest.'
What did he do? He prophesied as he was _commanded_; and when thus
engaged, the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they lived. If,
then, the ministers of grace wish to accomplish the great moral
design of their appointment, and acquire the deathless honour of
rescuing sinners from that state of guilt, degeneracy, and misery in
which they are involved, let them preach the gospel in a clear and
in a faithful manner, teaching them that every good thought, every
holy desire, every sacred principle, must proceed directly from the
Father of mercies, and God of all grace; and that, while they are
employed as his servants, in administering the revelation of his
will, if any good results from their labours, it must be in _answer
to the humble and fervent prayers of those who proclaim and those
who hear the truth_."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"The clergy have fallen very low in your
estimation."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"The Tractarian clergy have. They sink themselves
by their arrogance, and lofty assumptions of official dignity and
power; they are haughty and overbearing, and have no resemblance in
their spirit, or in their style of speech, to the prophets of the
Old Testament or the apostles of the New; and if not an importation
from Rome, they are in training to serve at her altars, and advocate
her assumed infallibility."



THE TENDENCY OF EVANGELICAL PREACHING.


In his brother the Rev. Mr. Roscoe met with a more formidable
antagonist than he expected; and though foiled in some previous
encounters, yet he again resumed the debate.

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I wonder how you can object to the strictures
which the Rev. Mr. Cole made in his sermon last Sunday, on the
censurable conduct of those clergymen who declaim against good
works, and exalt a dogmatic belief in certain crude opinions as the
only necessary condition on which sinners can obtain the forgiveness
of Almighty God."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"As I have not been in the habit of hearing many
of the evangelical clergy preach, I certainly cannot say from my
own personal knowledge how far the charge which you allege against
them is just or unfounded. If they do declaim against good works,
they are guilty of a serious dereliction of duty, and should not
receive the sanction of any wise or good man. I agree with you,
that this is not the age in which virtue, in any of her forms or
requirements, should be made light of, especially by those who are
professedly her ministers. For if they, who ought to stop up the
passes to evil, turn their weapons of war against the bulwarks of
practical righteousness, the common enemy will meet with an ally
where he ought to find a foe, and the capital and its dependencies
will soon be taken. But though I have not heard many of them preach,
I have been in the habit of reading their published discourses,
and it is my opinion that from the press they push the claims of
practical righteousness to such an extreme, that I have often heard
them censured for their excessive strictness; and it is fair to
presume that they are not less urgent and severe when they are in
the pulpit. But admitting, for the sake of the argument, that they
do declaim against good works, we know that they practise them; and
their hearers, with some few exceptions, will bear a comparison with
the most virtuous members of society."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Then you admit that some of their hearers are
not men of virtue--hence, does it not necessarily follow that their
ministers preach a doctrine which leads to licentiousness?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But this argument which you employ against the moral
tendency of evangelical preaching is liable to two very formidable
objections--it is fallacious, and it proves too much. It supposes
that the conduct of a _minority_ is the test by which the orthodoxy
of the preacher is to be decided. But why fix on the _minority_ as
the test, when their relative number is a tacit proof that they
are the exception to the general class of his hearers? If a few in
a district are turbulent and factious, and disposed to rebellion,
while the larger proportion of the people are peaceable and
submissive, revering the authority of the laws, and cultivating the
virtues of social life, would you recommend the suspension of the
Habeas Corpus, as though the entire mass were in a state of revolt?
Where would be the equity or the expediency of such a measure? Why
impugn the character of all because a few are criminal, and why
involve the innocent and the guilty in one indiscriminate visitation
of punishment? And would not your argument apply with equal, if not
with stronger force, to the anti-evangelical clergy? Have they no
immoral hearers? Have they none who set at open defiance the laws
of God and man? Have they no scoffers who visit their temples?--no
infidels who commune at their altars? Can they say of all in their
congregations, 'Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of
Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit
of the living God'?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But, you know, _we enforce virtue_, and tell
our hearers that their final salvation depends on their becoming
virtuous. This, you will admit, is a more powerful motive than that
which an evangelical preacher employs, who says that we may be saved
without it."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"No, he does not say that we can be saved without
becoming virtuous. This is an accusation which cannot be
substantiated; and to bring it forward is to bear false witness
against another. He does not require virtue on our part as a
prerequisite to recommend us to the favour of God; but he enforces
it as expressive of our reverence for his authority, and of our
gratitude to his sovereign goodness in redeeming us from the curse
of a violated law. He does not substitute our very defective
righteousness for the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which would
be an entire abandonment of one of the most essential doctrines of
the gospel; but he tells us that _the grace of God that bringeth
salvation, teaches us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,
we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present
world_. Indeed, the evangelical minister requires, on the part of
his adherents, a higher degree of virtue than his opponent, and he
employs more powerful motives to enforce it. He requires the entire
renovation of the soul, and such a conversion from all the evil
habits and impure propensities of our nature, as shall constitute
us _new creatures in Christ Jesus_. Do you enforce virtue from an
appeal to the authority of God? so does your evangelical brother.
Do you enforce it by a reference to its own loveliness, and its
tendency to promote personal and relative happiness? so does he. But
he goes a step further--he presses into the service of the pulpit
the motives which arise from the redemption of the soul by the death
of Christ; and if we look around us, we shall perceive that these
exert a more powerful influence on the principles and conduct of
men, than any other which ever has been or ever can be employed. Men
who will resist authority may be subdued by clemency, and many whom
a dread of punishment could not reclaim from evil, have been turned
from the error of their ways after that the kindness and love of God
our Saviour toward them hath appeared. And then, like the eunuch of
the Scriptures, they have gone on their way rejoicing, ever ready to
give to others a reason of the hope within them; saying, under the
impulse of devout gratitude, rather than vainglorious ostentation,
'Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he
hath done for my soul.'"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"We very well know that those who admire
evangelical preaching are, generally speaking, more loquacious on
the subject of religion, and more religiously disposed in their
habits, than others; but this is one of the objections which we have
against it. If _we_ feel _too_ little, _they_ feel _too_ much; and
if _we_ are not quite so religious in our habits as we ought to be,
_they_ go to the opposite extreme, and become enthusiasts. _We_ keep
within the boundary which reason and decorum mark out, but _they_
cross it; and while _we_ restrain our passions, and rarely discuss
the awful subjects of religion in our social interviews, _they_
yield to impulses and excitements, which they rashly ascribe to a
mental intercourse with an invisible world, and thus they approach
to the very verge of fanaticism."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But surely you do not object to a person who has
felt the renewing power of the grace of God, ascribing the great
change to its real cause, expressing at the same time his joyful
gratitude to God for effecting it."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"What I dislike and condemn is the strong
effervescence of feeling which so often makes its appearance amongst
the admirers of evangelical preaching, and which leads them to use
terms of expression which are more nearly allied to rhapsody than
sober truth and reality."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"You know that, on all subjects, men speak as they
feel; and therefore, when their passions are strongly excited by
religious truth, they ought not to be condemned or censured if
they do give utterance to some expressions which may appear rather
extravagant to an apathetic mind; they speak naturally, that is,
in character. Let me give you an example. Can a man of a refined
taste, and who is very excitable, avoid being deeply interested
by the sublime or beautiful in the natural, or by the pathetic or
tragical in the moral world? No. It is impossible. He is affected
before he is conscious of feeling, and often when he is incapable of
assigning the cause of it. To argue that this liability to strong
excitement is a proof of the imbecility of our mind, or of our
tendency to fanatical illusions, is nothing less than a begging of
the question--a species of artifice which cannot be tolerated. Our
nature is liable to excitement, and we cannot avoid it. It is, upon
the whole, considered a favourable symptom of a fine taste or a good
disposition. We prefer it to stoicism, to apathy, and to a mental
dulness, which neither harmonious sounds nor enchanting scenes can
move. If, then, our passions are necessarily stirred within us, and
sometimes powerfully stirred by external objects, by what law is it
rendered improper for a man to be deeply affected by the momentous
truths of revelation? Does the law of our nature forbid it? No. You
yourself have confessed that the admirers of evangelical preaching
are in general strongly, too strongly affected by what they believe.
To strip your charges of the measured language in which they are
brought, do you mean to say that they are too deeply affected by
the awful descriptions which the sacred writers have given us of
the miseries of the damned; or too strongly animated by the sublime
anticipations of a blissful immortality; or too grateful to the Lord
of glory for bearing their sins in his own body on the tree; and
too intense in their desires after a more perfect conformity to the
purity of the Divine nature? But is this possible?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"We certainly cannot love Almighty God too
much, nor can we be too grateful to him for his mercies, temporal
and spiritual; but when we are speaking to each other about our
religious feelings, I think, as the apostle says, we should let our
moderation be known."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But, to speak naturally, we should speak as we
feel. I remember a poor woman of the name of Allen, who often used
to perplex me when we conversed together on religious topics; she
always left a vague impression on my mind that there was a something
in religion which I had never discovered."

"I am fully convinced," said Mrs. John Roscoe, apologizing for
obtruding her remarks, "that those who embrace evangelical
sentiments are more religious in their conversation and habits
than those who do not. But it is at the awful hour of death that
the difference becomes the more apparent and striking. We had a
servant, a member of a Dissenting chapel, who lived with us some
years, but when she was taken ill she left us to go to her father, a
poor pious man, with whom she resided for several months before she
died. I often went to see her, and was standing by her side when she
breathed her last. She was composed and even cheerful in prospect
of death, but it was the cheerfulness of a spirit made happy by the
consolations of religion, and which expected to be still happier
in the celestial world.[15] I recollect asking her what made her
so happy when death was so near, and her reply, though I did not
then, and do not yet comprehend its full import, made such a strong
impression, that I have never forgotten it--'His sweet promise,
_Come unto me, and I will give you rest_. I do come to him; he has
given me rest of soul; and he has provided a rest for me in heaven.
And you, dear Madam, must come to him to be saved and made happy.'"

  [15] The author once knew a lady who was celebrated, in the town
  in which she lived, no less for her benevolence, than she was for
  her utter dislike to those persons who had embraced evangelical
  sentiments. She generally used to term them, by way of reproach,
  Methodists, enthusiasts, or fanatics. For many years she was in the
  habit of visiting the poor and the infirm, sympathizing with them
  when in trouble, giving them money to purchase the necessaries and
  comforts of life; and she originated several public institutions,
  which still remain as the memorial of her practical goodness. Often
  has she sat beside the lingering sufferer, wiping away the cold
  sweats of death, and administering, with her own hands, the last
  portion of food or of medicine which nature consented to receive.
  This lady, when conversing with a friend, whose prejudices against
  the fanatics of the day (as the disciples of the Redeemer are
  styled) ran as high as her own, said, "_I don't know how to account
  for it, but I find these people know more about religion than we do,
  and appear more happy in their dying moments than any others I ever
  meet with_." Happy would it have been for her if some friend had
  been present to explain the cause of it; but no--living under the
  sombrous gloom of a pharisaical faith, which admits not of the clear
  light of the truth, she lived in ignorance of the nature of faith in
  Christ, and in ignorance she died.

_Mr. Roscoe._--"It is now about twelve months since I was travelling
with an eminent physician. Our conversation happened to turn on
the state of religion in the country, and on the evangelical and
anti-evangelical clergy and laity of our own church; when he stated
that, in the discharge of his professional duties, he was often
called to witness the termination of human life--the retiring of the
actors from the busy stage--the departure of intelligent beings from
one world to another--and that he had uniformly found, that those
who imbibe evangelical sentiments die much more like the Christians
of the Bible than those who do not. He gave it as the result of long
experience, that evangelical religion, though much despised, is
greatly conducive to the happiness of man, especially in his last
moments. This fact produced a deep impression on my mind, as he said
it had done on his."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes; the imagination, when acted upon by
evangelical opinions and impulses, very often holds a pretended
intercourse with Heaven, and sees sights and hears sounds which are
supernatural; but are we so far gone from the sober restraints of
reason as to become the advocates of enthusiastic raptures?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I am not surprised at what you say, as I once
used to talk in a similar strain, but now, blessed be the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the delusion has vanished, and I
am convinced that what I then called, and what you still call the
raptures of a disordered imagination, are the triumphs of faith over
the terrors of death; and that the glowing expressions which often
fall from the lips of the dying believer are entirely in accordance
with the genius of the gospel."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I have no doubt but such strongly excitable
persons will be saved, if they are sincere."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"And why should you doubt their sincerity? If you
see a man devoting his mind to the pursuits of commerce, or of
literature, or of pleasure, you do not feel at liberty to impugn
his motives; then why should you do so when you see him devoting
his mind to religion? Is religion the only subject which we are
forbidden to approach? or if we do approach it with reverence for
its authority, with ardent gratitude for its sacred communications,
with strong interest in its sublime enunciations of a future state
of existence, are we to be reproached for insincerity and hypocrisy?
You accuse us of ostentation, because we make a more decided
profession of religion than some of our neighbours; but allow me to
ask you if the spirit in which this charge originates has not exuded
its venom against pure and undefiled religion in every age of the
Christian church, when it has been embodied in a living character?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Why, you know that some who have made the
greatest pretensions to religion, have been guilty of the most
dishonourable conduct!"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, I know it; and I confess that the inconsistent
conduct of some professors of religion induced me, for many years,
to cherish very unfavourable opinions against all who embraced
evangelical sentiments; but I am now satisfied that I acted neither
wisely nor equitably. Because one member of a family, or ten members
of a religious community, act inconsistently with their professions
to each other, am I at liberty to condemn the whole?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But you will admit that it is calculated to
excite suspicion."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"It may excite suspicion where an evil passion or
where prejudice has gained the ascendency, but not otherwise. I
maintain that the law of equity forbids our suspecting the sincerity
and uprightness of any man until he gives us a cause for doing so.
Am I to suspect the honour, the integrity, and the friendship of Mr.
Stevens, because some one who goes to the same church, and professes
the same religious opinions, has been guilty of fraud, or sacrificed
his honour by attempting to wound the reputation of his friend?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But when people make a greater profession than
their neighbours, it is natural for us to expect more exemplary
conduct."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Certainly; and if they are not exemplary in their
conduct you may impeach their sincerity; but you ought to confine
the act of impeachment to the offender--to extend it to others would
be unjust. If a professor of religion run to the same excess of
riot as others--if he press to your theatres--if he visit your card
parties or your balls--you may very justly reproach him; _but if he
do not_, such is the fastidious and antichristian spirit of the age,
you think it strange, and begin to speak evil of him. If he act in
direct opposition to his religious principles, you charge him with
hypocrisy; if he act in conformity with them, he is subjected to the
same imputation, with this essential difference in his favour--that
the first accusation would be just, while the latter would be
groundless."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"I very much dislike indiscriminate and
wholesale accusations. We ought not to censure one person on account
of the imperfections of another; nor insinuate a charge against any
one, unless we have strong evidence to sustain it."

_Miss Roscoe._--"Very just, aunt, but such is the practice of this
strange world; and though we protest against it, yet we can obtain
no redress. When one who has been gay becomes pious, the _magicians_
prophesy that he will go off into a state of derangement; if he
retains his reason, as is usually the case, they express a _devout_
wish that the motives of his conduct may prove to be sincere; if
he act in accordance with his religious principles, and refuse to
conform to their customs and habits, he is stigmatized as unsocial,
precise, and hypocritical; and such is the degree of virulence which
goes forth against him, that if no imperfections can be discovered
in his character, some will be imputed; and if no rumours come from
the north to blast or tarnish his reputation, they are easily raised
at home by the magic wand of calumny."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"I am quite weary of this censorious spirit,
its bitterness and its sarcasms. I would willingly contribute
towards raising five hundred pounds, as a prize for the best essay
on the antichristian character of this evil spirit, and the most
effectual means by which it can be exorcised from amongst us."

_Miss Roscoe._--"And so would I, dear aunt; I am sure we could
raise the money, if we could get a first-rate pious writer to give
us the book."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Courtesy requires that I yield the point to
the ladies, who, to their honour, generally take the part of the
accused; but (addressing his brother) I still believe that the
offer of an unconditional salvation to men of every description of
character is very hazardous to the interests of public and private
virtue."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But the evangelical clergy do not, if I judge from
their written discourses, make that unconditional offer which you
suppose. They require repentance towards God, before they inculcate
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They require that we should forsake
our sins, before they encourage us to hope for mercy. And then the
faith which they inculcate is not a mere philosophical assent to
the truth of Christianity, which may leave the evil passions and
propensities of the mind unsubdued, but such a faith as shall, by
its own reaction, purify the imagination, overcome the allurements
and fascinations of the world, and work that conformity of soul
to the purity of the Divine nature, which forms the great line of
distinction between a real and a nominal Christian; between one who
is born of the flesh, and one who is born of the Spirit; between
the natural man, in whose estimation the things of the Spirit of
God are foolishness, and the spiritual man, who discerns them in
all their simplicity and relationships. You talk of a conditional
salvation; but if you intend by that phrase that we are required to
do something by which we are to merit the favour of God and a seat
in his celestial kingdom, you hold an opinion which is opposed to
the Scriptures and destructive to human happiness; for who can tell
when he has acquired that exact degree of virtue which will justify
his claim? Indeed, my brother, we ought always to remember that
we are sinners--that in the most improved state of our character
we are yet imperfect--that after all the acts of obedience which
we may perform, we are unprofitable servants--and that if we are
ever saved, as I hope we shall be, it will not be _for our own
works or deservings_, as the articles of our church declare, but
by grace, 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not
of yourselves: it is the gift of God' (Eph. ii. 8). Considering
the indifference which is so generally manifested by persons of
all ranks, and of every character, to the momentous truth on which
the final and eternal destiny of the soul depends, and the fearful
inroads which the worst of principles are making amongst the morals
of social life; considering the rapidity with which the fashion of
this world is passing away, and how soon we shall all be called to
appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; instead of repressing
any ardent passion for religion, we ought to cherish it; and should
contemplate the secession of one sinner, who withdraws from the
deluded and infatuated multitude to repent and to pray, with a
kindred feeling to that of the spirits of the invisible world, of
whom our Lord says, that 'likewise joy shall be in heaven over one
sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons
which need no repentance.'"

The conversation was here interrupted by some of the party moving
to the parlour window; when Mr. Roscoe said to his brother, "There
is, I see, a gentleman coming up the carriage drive, one of your
own order, who is a living witness that regeneration is something
essentially different from water baptism, and quite independent of
it; and also that a person of the purest virtue requires a Mediator
and a Saviour, no less than the most profane and worthless."

"Who is the gentleman?"

"The Rev. Mr. Guion, the rector of Norton."[16]

  [16] See page 78.

"I have heard of him, and I am told that he is a man of great
attainments."

"His learning is great. He is a most eloquent preacher; and he is
evangelical."

Mr. Guion was now ushered into the parlour, accompanied by Mrs.
Stevens; the ceremony of introduction was soon over, and the parties
very soon began to be acquainted. After some desultory conversation,
the Rev. Mr. Roscoe (addressing himself to Mr. Guion) said, "I had
the honour of making the acquaintance of two ladies, who are, I
believe, members of your cure, the Misses Brownjohn. I met them at
Buxton last autumn; I hope they are quite well."

"They are, I believe, very well; but just now they are involved in a
vexatious perplexity."

"Nothing very painful, I hope."

Why, the case is this; they had a nephew who left England for the
East Indies when they were little girls. No tidings were heard of
him for many years; but about twelve months ago, intelligence of his
death arrived, and he died, it appears, without a will, and very
wealthy. There have been a few claimants to his property, but the
two ladies in question are judged by many to be the next of kin, and
they have commenced proceedings; but there is a mortifying hitch in
the progress of their suit, for, on searching the parish register,
there is no record either of their birth or their baptism."

"These old records used to be kept in a most shameful way. I don't
wonder to hear of their vexatious perplexity."

"It is a little amusing to see how differently the two ladies
are affected by this unlucky discovery. Miss Dorothy is in high
dudgeon, because the non-production of the document arrests her
progress towards the possession of a large fortune. But Miss Susan
is most affected, by its cutting her off from the prospect of going
to heaven, believing, as she does, that no other than baptismal
regeneration is necessary or even possible; but now, for want of
a fair copy of her registration, she has no legitimate proof that
she is born again, even though she has a faint recollection of her
godfather and godmother."

"What course of procedure do they intend to adopt to obviate the
evils resulting from the non-registration of these two events--birth
and baptism?"

"Miss Dorothy has employed a very clever solicitor, who is drawing
up her case to lay before counsel, caring but little about her
baptism if she can succeed in getting at the money; while Miss Susan
cares nought about the money in comparison with her spiritual
birth. She thinks that her confirmation, which she distinctly
remembers, and the trouble she has often been put to by the week's
preparation for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, will all prove
of no avail, for want of this fair copy of her registration. She has
called into requisition the official aid of the bishop's secretary,
to lay her case before his lordship; and with her the point of
vexatious perplexity is, who shall now regenerate her, to fit her
for heaven, if she can't prove that the thing has been done. She
won't let me do it, because I am an evangelical; and she fears the
bishop won't give his sanction to its being done by a clergyman with
whom she sustains no ecclesiastical relationship. However, she has
made up her mind on this point, so I hear, that if the bishop thinks
it is necessary she should be baptized, and if he won't give his
sanction for her to go into another parish to be born again, she
will break up her establishment, and become a parishioner at Aston,
and then the Rev. Mr. Cole will do the thing properly."

"This case of Miss Susan Brownjohn," said Mrs. John Roscoe,
addressing her husband, "upsets, according to my thinking, your
doctrine of baptismal regeneration; for it is monstrous to imagine
that the Almighty will make a person's fitness for heaven depend on
the fidelity of a parish registrar, who is often a stupid fellow,
and sometimes more partial to his cups than to doing his duties."

With this half-grave and half-comic remark the colloquy ended, and
the party separated, some going one way and some another, but all in
a very good humour.

"Your aunt," said Mr. Guion, as he was bidding adieu to Miss Roscoe,
"has a rich vein of satire imbedded in her mental stratum."

"True, Sir, but I believe there is a new formation progressing, of
more sterling worth; a discovery made very recently."

"Indeed! This is joyful intelligence. Such discoveries are made by
angelic spirits, who care nought about any other formations of our
earth; and when made, they kindle into celestial rapture."

"And we can participate in their joy."

"Your papa," said Mrs. John Roscoe to her niece, as they were
promenading in the garden, "is a powerful reasoner; his arguments
seem to me quite irresistible."

"He is," my dear aunt, "a spiritually enlightened man; and he not
only understands what he believes, but he feels its power."

"Alas!" my dear Sophia, "I feel dark and bewildered; and I know
not what to do to gain mental peace. O how I long for some rays of
that celestial light which has illumined his mind and yours. The
incipient thoughts of my heart, which have long been nestling there,
are becoming powerful convictions; and force me to believe that
there is a reality in our common faith, which you and your father
have discovered, but which we have not."

"The Lord, I trust," dear aunt, "is beginning in _your_ soul the
great good work, which will issue in your eternal salvation."

"What makes you think so?"

"I think so because your spirit, which has long remained dormant,
and comparatively insensible under the repressing and benumbing
influence of Tractarian delusions, is now stirring within you;
struggling into newness of life; acquiring the moral sense
of spiritual perception and feeling; craving after spiritual
nourishment and consolation; willing to yield itself to God, to be
renovated, redeemed, and sanctified; and to walk with him. These are
unmistakeable signs."



ON ATTENDING AN EVANGELICAL MINISTRY.


Mr. Roscoe had devoted a large portion of his life to biblical
studies, and the various branches of literature which are connected
with them, and was thus qualified to discuss theological questions
with great facility. His passion for disputation having subsided
into an ardent love of the truth, he no longer argued for the
honour of gaining the victory, but either to vindicate his opinions
when assailed, or to acquire more correct information on subjects
which, till recently, he but imperfectly understood. His loftiness
of spirit had now left him; and though he still displayed the
insignia of a high mental order, yet there was so much amiability
in his manner, and so much docility in his temper, that while he
commanded respect, he did not fail to win esteem. During his first
serious impressions, the light of truth shone with too feeble a ray
to produce that perfect and plenary conviction which permits the
mind no longer to vacillate; but when it came, not in word only,
but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, he
received it with mingled emotions of astonishment and joy; and while
he still retained his constitutional independence and ardour, these
qualities were so softened and imbued by the love of Christ, that
they gave a charm to his character and conversation, of which every
one was conscious but himself.

His more public profession of religion was free from ostentation,
and without reserve. It was not made to gratify caprice, or cast
a reflection on the indecision of others, but in obedience to the
authority of the Saviour; and as he had, before his conversion,
acquired extensive information on theological subjects, when that
great event took place he was enabled to advocate the cause of
truth with considerable ability, without requiring the preparatory
course of instruction which is in general necessary. He still held
in veneration the Established Church, and respected the private
character of his parish minister, the Rev. Mr. Cole, though he
could not agree with his sentiments; but as he was not edified by
his ministrations, he felt it to be his duty to separate himself
from his congregation, and join himself to that of the Rev. Mr.
Ingleby, whose evangelical preaching was quite in accordance with
his own views of revealed truth. This step had been anticipated by
his friends, and while some of them commended him, others were much
displeased.

On the evening preceding the Sabbath, Mr. Roscoe mentioned the
resolution he had formed, when his brother remarked, "I am not
surprised at your determination, because I know that it is a very
general thing for those who embrace evangelical principles to prefer
an evangelical ministry; but will not such a step grieve your old
friend, the Rev. Mr. Cole."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Perhaps it may; but ought I, by my presence, to
sanction opinions which I believe to be erroneous?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Though Mr. Cole differs from you on some points
of theology, there are many on which you agree; and I think you
may, like some others who have embraced evangelical principles,
still attend a ministry which does not belong to this specific
denomination, as you retain the right of rejecting what you
disapprove."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"If the points on which we differ did not involve
any essential doctrine of the Christian faith, I should deem it
my duty still to attend his ministry; but when I consider that
he denies those truths which are, in my opinion, the vital parts
of Christianity, and preaches what an apostle would call another
gospel, I ought not to give him the sanction of my presence. If
I sustained no personal injury under such a ministry, I could
not derive any real advantage from it. And, besides, am I not
responsible to God and to society for the influence of my example,
as well as for my opinions and principles? If so, I am under a
sacred obligation to be as cautious what I indirectly sanction, as
what I recommend. Can I, without sacrificing the dictates of my
conscience, recommend a person to believe that he requires no other
regeneration than that which he experienced when he was baptized,
and that his good deeds will atone for his evil actions; that he
requires no other qualification for heaven than a faithful discharge
of his relative duties on earth? Impossible. If, then, I cannot
recommend the adoption of these opinions, ought I to sanction them
by my presence, when they are enforced by others? I believe that
men, before they are renewed in the spirit of their minds, live in a
state of alienation from God--under the condemning sentence of his
holy law--and are justly exposed to future and endless misery. I
believe this on the testimony of the sacred writers, whose testimony
is corroborated by the articles of our church; and do not the same
authorities teach us to believe that the truth, when preached in a
pure and faithful manner, is the ordained means of the conversion
and salvation of men? But if the pure truth of the gospel becomes
corrupted, are we not taught to believe that the people perish? He
who corrupts it, either wilfully or through ignorance, will stand
responsible at the last day for the awful consequences of his
conduct; but if I give my sanction to a ministry which I believe to
be a corruption of the gospel, and the people should perish under
it, shall I not be regarded as accessory to their ruin?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But supposing I admit that an anti-evangelical
ministry is a corruption of the gospel, and that it does not prove
the means of the conversion and salvation of those who hear it, yet
you must allow that they hear the truth in its purity from the desk,
where the Bible, as well as the prayers are read, which answers the
same purpose. Hence I have known some who have imbibed evangelical
sentiments, recommend a continuance at their parish church on this
account, though the ministry may not exactly accord with their views
and taste."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes; we have the pure gospel in the desk, even
when we have another gospel in the pulpit; but I have never known
it produce those moral effects on the people which result from
an evangelical ministry. The prayers of our Liturgy may aid the
devotional feelings of a renewed Christian, but it is the _preaching
of the truth_ that God employs as the means of infusing the
devotional spirit; and though some may recommend us to attend where
the gospel is confined to the reading-desk, yet can we suppose that
Paul would do so if he were on earth? Would he, who pronounced that
man or angel accursed who dared to preach any other gospel than
that which he and his fellow-apostles preached, urge his friends or
his hearers, if he were taking leave of them, to attend a ministry
which he believed to be in opposition to the truth? Impossible!
Can we suppose that our Lord, who commanded his disciples _to
take heed what they heard_, would, if he were again to appear on
earth, recommend us to attend on a ministry which he believed was
subversive of the truth, and the means of misleading the people?
Impossible! If we cannot believe that _they would recommend us to
do it, ought we to recommend that others should do so_? Would it
be wise to act in opposition to such authority? would it be safe?
would it be in accordance with the will of the Lord Jesus? and could
we calculate on receiving his benediction--_Well done, good and
faithful servant_?"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But surely you do not mean that every one who
embraces evangelical sentiments ought to leave his parish church if
those sentiments are not preached there?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Most certainly I do."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Indeed! Suppose one member of a family should
embrace evangelical sentiments, while all the rest retain their
former belief, would you recommend that one individual to disturb
the peace of his family, by straying to some other church to hear
his favourite doctrines."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I recommend no one to disturb the peace of a family,
and I rather think it will be found, when peace is disturbed, it is
in consequence of the resistance which is raised by the opposite
party. Here is, for example, a single individual in the midst of a
large circle of gay acquaintances, who feels the renewing influence
of truth, and makes an open profession of her faith in Christ. She
now retires from the follies and vanities of the world, adopts
habits which are decidedly religious, and, without infringing on the
rights of others, she claims the privilege of attending that place
of worship where she can derive the most spiritual improvement. What
law, either human or divine, is violated by such a decision? None.
But as the profession of faith in Christ, in the midst of a circle
of the gay and the fashionable, is a novelty repugnant to their
tastes, and considered by many of them so inelegant, and such a near
approximation to the habits of the lower orders, she who makes it
becomes an object of satire and reproach, and then is accused as
being the cause of all the domestic misery which _they_ originate."

_Mrs. Roscoe._--"But you know, my dear, that our domestic peace was
destroyed as soon as Sophia imbibed her evangelical sentiments; and
you know that religion has been the subject of contentious debate
between us ever since."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But would it ever have been destroyed if we had not
done it? A letter[17] which she addressed to us convinced me, at
the time, of the injustice of our accusation; but now I look back
on that dark period of our life with more pain than any former one.
That letter satisfied me that I ought not to oppose her; and though
I then regretted that she had embraced views of truth which were
so different from my own, yet I admired the firmness and constancy
which she uniformly displayed when they were assailed; and now I do
not hesitate to say, that he who opposes or persecutes another on
account of his religious principles and habits, _is treasuring up to
himself wrath against the day of wrath_."

  [17] See page 228.

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"I disapprove of persecution as much as you do:
it is both impolitic and cruel; and seems to be one of the crimes
which is left for the more savage and waspish part of our nature
to commit. But, still, if we do not oppose force against a person
who has embraced evangelical principles, we may _reason_; and as I
consider the desertion of a parish church a serious evil, you must
permit me to remind you that if you leave yours and go to hear Mr.
Ingleby, the stability of your character will be shaken. You have
been considered as one of the pillars of the congregation--one
of its ornaments--your decision has been admired no less than
your benevolence, and all regret that you should fall from your
steadfastness, and exchange the religion of your forefathers, which
is grown venerable for its antiquity, for a new religion, which has
but recently sprung up amongst us."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"This was one of the very arguments which the Church
of Rome employed against the Reformers, and if they had yielded
to its influence, we should still have been in her communion. I
recollect having met, some time since, in the course of my reading,
with the following judicious reply to a satirical question which a
Catholic bishop proposed to a Protestant:--'_Where was your religion
before the days of Luther?_' 'In the Bible, Sir, where yours is
not, and never was.' The Bible, as Bishop Stillingfleet very justly
observes, is the religion of Protestants. You say that I have
exchanged an old for a new religion, but this I deny. I still admire
the Liturgy, and I still believe the Articles of the church; I still
retain that religion which you say is venerable for its antiquity;
but, then, I believe it is not to remain a religion of mere forms
and ceremonies, but that it is to operate on my heart, and produce
within me the peaceable fruits of righteousness. The new religion,
as you and others are pleased to term it, is not a corruption of the
old; but it is the old religion of our venerable Reformers, and the
good old bishops and pastors of our church, revived in its primitive
simplicity, and life, and power. It is the religion of the Bible,
which enlightens and renovates the inner man--which brings us into
fellowship with the Holy One--which preserves the broad line of
distinction between the real and the nominal Christian--and which,
by its progressive influence, makes us meet to become partakers of
the inheritance of the saints in light."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But I do not think that you can, consistently
with your profession as a Churchman, leave your parish church to
attend one in another parish; the rector is the shepherd, whose
spiritual jurisdiction extends over the whole parish, and the people
are, ecclesiastically considered, his flock. Is it right for one
sheep to stray into another fold for pasture?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Your figure of comparison is more fanciful than
just. As we live in a land of freedom, where every man is permitted
to exercise his own judgment on every religious question, we may
believe what doctrines, practise what ceremonies, and hear what
minister we please, without offending against any law, or subjecting
ourselves to the interference of others."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But you are not sure that you will approve of
all the doctrines that Mr. Ingleby preaches, and may, after a while,
be under the necessity of going elsewhere."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"If I should be under the necessity of going
elsewhere, I ought to be thankful that I have the right, and also
the opportunity of doing so. But as this is an hypothetical case,
I feel under no obligation to reply to it, further than to say,
that as religion is now become essential to my happiness, and an
enlightened ministry[18] essential to my spiritual improvement, I
shall go where I can derive most advantage. Places and forms, times
and seasons, are the accidental associations of religion, not the
integral parts of it. That powerful ascendency which they once
retained over my imagination and prejudices is now destroyed, and I
am free to hear the truth wherever it is proclaimed, and to offer up
my sacrifice of prayer and of praise to God, in any place which he
will condescend to visit with his presence."

  [18] "They that have any just sense of the importance of religion,"
  says a judicious writer, "find that they need all the helps that
  God has appointed. Suppose the Sabbath were abolished for a few
  weeks--in what state, think you, would some of you find your minds?
  Why, you would feel as if you had scarcely any knowledge or power
  of religion at all." But there is no charm in the sanctity of
  the day to keep up the power of vital religion in the heart of a
  Christian, nor in the holy place where he may spend "the consecrated
  hours"--this honour having been put on a faithful ministry, which
  exhibits the truth in its purity and force. What a loss does
  a Christian habitually sustain who deprives himself of such a
  ministry, and worships where angels never stoop to celebrate the
  conversion of one sinner to God! Instead of hearing that _glorious
  gospel_ which enlivens and strengthens the mind, which purifies
  and ennobles it, and which brings the remote and unseen realities
  of eternity to moderate the impetuosity and cool the ardour with
  which the fleeting shadows of time are pursued, the heart is often
  disquieted, if not with "harsh and dissonant sounds," yet with
  antichristian and dissonant sentiments, and the day of rest becomes
  one of perplexity and mortification--Providence having determined,
  that they _who observe lying vanities shall feel that they have
  forsaken_ their own mercies (Jonah ii. 8).

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"But I presume you do not intend to leave the
church for any of the Dissenting chapels which are springing up
amongst us."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"You know that I am attached to the constitution
and the prescribed formula of the church, but I have a stronger
attachment for the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God to
salvation; and if I could not hear it preached within the walls of
the Establishment, I should consider it my duty to go where I could
hear it. Now, I will put one simple question, and I am perfectly
willing to be guided by your reply. Suppose the pure gospel was
preached in a Dissenting chapel, and another gospel was preached in
the church, to which place would the apostle Paul go to worship, if
he were a resident amongst us?"

The Rev. Mr. Roscoe made no reply to this somewhat hampering
question; but his wife, who was rather more ingenuous in her
disposition, and less anxious about the consequences of any fair
concession or admission, said, "I have no doubt but he would go to
the Dissenting chapel, and take others with him."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"My dear! do you really think so? you must be
more guarded."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"Yes, I do most certainly think so; and I'll
tell you why. He has pronounced a woe against any one who shall dare
to preach another gospel than that which he preached; and therefore
it is not likely that he would sanction an official service, against
which he has recorded his solemn and awful denunciations. It would
be exposing himself to the consequences of his own anathema if he
were to do so."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe_, smiling.--"I bow to the Spirit, that will rule in
spite of apostolic prohibition."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"Yes, when it rules in righteousness, as in
this case, rebellion would be treason, no less to logic than to
apostolic authority."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the following Sabbath morning we were delighted to see Mr. Roscoe
and his family enter the church, Mrs. John Roscoe accompanying
them. As this was the first time they had come to hear Mr. Ingleby,
we were very naturally somewhat excited on the occasion. He read
the prayers with great solemnity and pathetic earnestness; and it
was evident, from the expressive responses of the congregation,
that they felt engaged in a devotional exercise, blending, in the
name of the glorious Mediator, supplication with thanksgiving. His
subject was taken from Revelation iii. 21, "To him that overcometh
will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame,
and am set down with my Father in his throne." After a few prefatory
remarks, the venerable rector said, "I shall endeavour to prove
from these words that the Christian is animated in his course by
the hope of attaining the honours which wait him at the end of it."
He had, in this sublimely interesting subject, ample scope for the
exhibition of some of the most attractive and impressive parts of
revealed truth; and such was the ease, energy, and animation with
which he spoke, that the audience listened with fixed attention; and
though he knew not that Mr. Roscoe's family was present, yet, from
the tenor of his remarks, some thought that the sermon was intended
solely for them.

After service, when strolling leisurely through the church-yard,
Farmer Pickford pressed through the crowd, and rather abruptly gave
me his hearty hand-shake, and we walked away together, his modest
wife by his side.

"We have had an excellent sermon this morning."

"That's true, Sir, and no mistake. Mr. Ingleby speaks as though he
believed and felt what he says. He is wonderfully clever. He knows
the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; and methinks he could repeat
it without looking at it. And what a smart voice he has--not too
loud for them that sit near him, and loud enough to make people hear
outside the church if a window happens to be open."

"He is indeed an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures; that
is, he has extensive and profound knowledge of them."

"He has more verses of the Bible in one sarmunt than Parson Cole
puts in threescore; and I take notice that they are all different,
while Parson Cole is always repeating two, which I have learnt
by heart. One is, 'Be not righteous overmuch;' and t'other, 'In
the last days perilous times shall come.' He has given me a bit
of a liking for the Bible. I read one chapter every night to the
youngsters before they go to bed, and two on a Sunday."

"I hope you understand and feel what you read, and what you hear
from the pulpit?"

"Why, Sir, as for that I can't say much; but I can say this, I like
what I hear, and I can make out Mr. Ingleby's meaning a bit better
now than I could at first. What he says often _comes home_ here,"
placing his hand over his heart, "and then I can't help feeling, and
at times I feel desperately; but then, worse luck, it all goes off
on a Monday."

"I suppose, though, you sometimes think during the week on what you
hear at church on the Sabbath?"

"I can't help doing that; but, worse luck, I can't make out his
meaning by my own thinkings so cleverly as he does in his sarmunts."

"That's very likely; but I suppose you now reflect at times on the
worth of your soul, and the possibility of its being lost?"

"Ay, that I do; more now in one hour than I ever did all my life
long before. Parson Cole never made me feel or think, but when he
was lashing away at the _schesmeatics_, as he calls the Methodists,
and then I used to feel mightily pleased. I often think we were two
fools together--one for lashing the Methodists, who never offended
him, and t'other for being pleased with it. I never come from church
now without thinking about myself and my sins, and about Jesus
Christ who died on the cross, and about heaven and hell. These are
now to me great realities. Nothing else, as you said to me when you
first talked to me, is of equal importance. But I am very stupid in
such matters, worse luck. Wife knows a power more about such things
than I do, and she often helps me a bit to mind and understand
Mr. Ingleby's sarmunts. We often sit up an hour or so after the
youngsters and the sarvunts are gone to bed, to talk over these
matters. I like her talk, as I understand it a bit."

"I suppose you understand Mr. Ingleby much better than you used to
understand Mr. Cole; and I daresay you would not very willingly go
back to your parish church?"

"I have been there, Sir, _for the last time_, and no mistake. When
there, I could sit thinking about my crops and my cattle, but I
can't do that at church now. No; Mr. Ingleby takes my heart along
with him; and at times he gives such terrible back strokes that he
makes me tremble--ay, and cry too; and I a'n't ashamed to confess it
to you."

"I am thankful to hear you say what you do say, and I have no doubt
but you will, by and by, know spiritual things much better than you
do now."

"And so I tell him, Sir; I tell him he is now like the man of whom
we read in the Gospel of Mark, who, when the Lord began to open his
eyes, saw so confusedly, that men appeared like trees walking; but
after a while he saw things as clearly and as distinctly as other
people."

"The Lord grant it may be so; then I shall be a power happier than I
be now. I sha'n't mind death then."

"I suppose, Mrs. Pickford, things are now more comfortable at home
than they used to be?"

"Yes, Sir; I see a blessed change in my husband, and a change in
my family. Sunday is now kept as it ought to be, and we all go to
church, servants and all, which makes me very thankful to God for
working this change in our homestead, and to you, Sir, for the part
you have taken in it."

"I have a good wife, Sir, who looked after me when I neglected to
look after myself, and who looked after the youngsters when I was
for letting them run wild. I used to feel a power of anger against
her for her Methodist ways and talk, and at times I refused to let
her go to chapel on a Sunday; but I did this in the days of my
ignorance. I know a bit better now, thank the Lord. She says she
sees a change in all of us, but I hope she will see greater changes
yet. I now know that my heart must be changed, and I pray to God to
change it. I hope, Sir, you will come again to see us before you
leave Fairmount, and give us a bit more prayer. That prayer you gave
us at your last visit has never been off my heart since I heard it,
and I don't think it will ever go off."

"Yes, Sir, do come again," said Mrs. Pickford, "I will try to make
you comfortable, and you may do us some good."

"Why, Sir, I got more good to my soul by your talk when you looked
in and tasted our brown loaf and cream cheese, than I got from all
the parsons that ever visited us, and we have had a power of them in
the shooting season. They would talk about game and dogs, but not a
word about the soul and its salvation. I'll tell you what my belief
is--one half of them would make better gamekeepers than parsons; and
I'll tell you why I think so--a man, to be a right sort of a fellow
for his work, should have a liking for it; and he should stick to
it, and not gad about, minding other things."

"Very true; the ministers of religion should try to save the souls
of their people."

"That, Sir, is my thinking; but no parson ever said anything to me,
or to any of us, about my soul and its salvation, though they all
knew I was a badish sort of a man, apt to swear a bit, and sometimes
get drunk, worse luck."

"Well, Farmer, I hope now you will work out your salvation with fear
and trembling, and then you will never again commit such sins."

"I will, Sir, the Lord helping me; and I hope we all shall; we shall
then be a power happier, and no mistake."

       *       *       *       *       *

On their return from church, Mrs. John Roscoe said, "We have heard
a very judicious and impressive sermon this morning. I was much
pleased with the vigour and occasional elegance of Mr. Ingleby's
style; but this was a source of gratification far inferior to the
elevating sentiments which he delivered. I could have sat another
hour with great pleasure, but not without coveting the feelings of
a man who spake of the joys of heaven as one who had passed through
all the necessary preparatory trials, and was living in the sweet
anticipation of his final happiness."

"I was much struck," said Mrs. Roscoe, "at the size and listening
attitude of the congregation. How audibly and impressively they
uttered the responses. It was the sound of many voices, yet all in
harmony; I saw no one gazing about, as though he were a stranger in
a strange place, but every eye seemed fixed on Mr. Ingleby. I have
been more pleased than I expected; and if this be a fair specimen of
evangelical preaching, I shall feel no reluctance to go again."

This remark overpowered the feelings of Miss Roscoe, whose mind had
been filled with anxiety respecting the issue of this first visit of
her parents to the church in which she had so often listened with
delight to the truths of revelation, and she could not refrain from
shedding the tear of joy.

"Yes," said Mr. Roscoe, "the service was indeed interesting and
impressive. The preacher displayed a spirit and a manner which
became the place he occupied, and the responsibility of the sacred
duties devolving on him. His mind was absorbed in his subject;
and his principal aim was, by showing us our danger, and the
resources of our safety, and by exhibiting before us the honours
and felicities of the unseen world, so to awe and animate us, as to
secure our devout and permanent attention to the momentous truths
which he brought forward. I felt that the revelation of mercy was
to him not a mere system of philosophical speculation, which, by
exercising the reasoning faculties, improves the intellect without
refining the moral sense; but that it was, what it professes to be,
a restorative scheme of salvation, which, by renovating the heart,
restores man to his long lost purity and bliss--deriving all its
efficacy from the grace of Him by whom it was first announced."

"I never retired from a service," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "with
such feelings as those that influenced my heart this morning; so
dissatisfied with myself, and yet I know not why; I feel that I
need something to solace my heart, and yet what that something can
be I know not. I am, indeed, dear Sophia, in a state of almost
overwhelming perplexity."

"Your observations, dear aunt, remind me of a passage in the
history of the apostle Paul, who at one period of his life was in
the same state of mental perplexity, which led him to say, 'When
the commandment came, sin revived;' that is, when he felt the
condemnatory application of the law of God to his conscience, he was
in a tumult. Before this application was made, he thought that his
heart was very good, but afterwards he felt himself a great sinner,
and that he had within him many evil principles, which had been
lying in such a dormant state, that he had no suspicion of their
existence. The new discoveries which you are now making, and which
occasion such painful perplexity, are preparing the way for other
discoveries, which will soothe, and yield the sweetest consolation;
and you will be led gradually onwards to a clear and comprehensive
view of the grand theory of revealed truth; and then, like Paul, you
'will abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.'"

"I hope, my dear, it will be so; for I feel when associated, as I
too long have been, with our Tractarian fallacies and delusions,
such a craving of soul for some yet unknown spiritual helps
and consolations, that I am painfully disquieted, and at times
alarmed, lest I should be seized by death in my present state of
unpreparedness for that solemn event. I hope, my dear, you and your
papa will pray for me, for I now feel the need of the prayers of
others. I know not how to pray myself. Forms are now useless to me,
especially those I once used and admired, but never felt; I cannot
use them now; and yet I know not how to pray to the Almighty without
a written form."

"You will soon know, dear aunt."



THE UNHAPPY ONE.


Mrs. Denham was quite disconcerted by not seeing the Roscoes at
church on Sunday; and therefore, accompanied by her daughter, she
made a call the next day, to ascertain the cause.

"We were much surprised yesterday," said Mrs. Denham, "by not
seeing any of you in your pew. We thought some of you must be very
ill. We had a most charming sermon. Mr. Cole took his favourite
text--'_Be not righteous over much_.' He read most excellently. Mr.
Denham very much admired the sermon, and so did Sir Henry Wilmot;
I heard him say that Mr. Cole surpassed himself. He showed us the
folly and the danger of being too religious. We should have called
in the evening, only we know that Mr. Roscoe has some scruples now
about Sunday visitors."

"Perhaps," said Mrs. Roscoe, "you will be surprised when I tell you
that we all went to hear Mr. Ingleby."

"Indeed!"

"And did you really?" said Miss Denham. "I heard him once. Is he not
a most solemn preacher? I think if I were to hear him often I should
be brought over to his religion, he enforces it with such awful
power."

"You know, my dear, our objections to his religion; and I hope you
will never think of leaving your own for it."

"Why, mamma, if I speak the candid truth, I must confess that I have
no religion to leave."

"Dear Matilda, you shock me. Why, can't you say the Catechism, and
the Belief, and the Lord's Prayer; and were you not confirmed by the
Bishop of Bath and Wells; and have you not taken the sacrament three
times, and thus made yourself a very good Christian?"

"No, ma', only twice. If you recollect, we had a large party last
sacrament Sunday."

"Yes, I now recollect it. I suppose (looking at Mrs. Roscoe) you
found the church prodigiously full?"

"There was a very large and a very attentive congregation."

"I have heard that before, and I wonder at it. I wonder what charm
people can feel in such a gloomy religion, to be so fond of it.
They should have the sermon preached to them which Mr. Cole read
on Sunday morning. It would soberize them. I am told Mr. Ingleby
preaches such awful sermons, and with so much vehemence, that he
makes people take up with his religion whether they will or no.
Pray, how did Mr. Roscoe like his preaching? He is a sensible
man, and one on whose judgment we may place some dependence,
notwithstanding his religious eccentricities."

"Mr. Roscoe was very much pleased. He thinks Mr. Ingleby a very
intelligent and a very eloquent preacher. Indeed, we were all so
much gratified, that it is our intention to hear him again."

"There, mamma," said Miss Denham, "I told you it would be so. Is he
not, ma'am, a most beguiling preacher? I have often wished to hear
him again; and yet I wonder at it, for he made me feel so awfully.
What was the subject of his discourse?" (Mrs. John Roscoe now
entered the parlour with Miss Roscoe.)

"He preached about the difficulties which a Christian has to
overcome before he can enter heaven."

"I wish," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "you had been with us. I think
all your objections against evangelical preaching would have been
removed. I never enjoyed a sermon so much. We certainly act a very
unwise part in cherishing antipathies against a style of preaching
which is so well calculated to direct our attention towards that
eternal world to which we are all hastening."

"It is very proper that we should all think about going to
heaven; but if we think too much on that subject it will make us
low-spirited. Mr. Cole very justly remarked yesterday, in his
sermon, that our Saviour never prayed that we should be taken out of
the world; and I think it would be wrong if we were to desire it."

"But you know that we _must leave_ it; and as we know not how soon,
is it not of importance that we should be prepared?"

"O, certainly; and I doubt not but, when our Maker is pleased to
take us unto himself, we shall be quite resigned to our fate; but
for my own part (rising as she spoke), I would much rather live than
die. We know what this world is, and here we are very well off, but
we know nothing about the next."

"I hope," said Mrs. Roscoe, "you and Miss Denham will accompany
us on Sunday to hear Mr. Ingleby, as I have no doubt you will be
much pleased. No one could have stronger prejudices against that
good man than myself; and though he advanced some things which I
did not very well understand, yet he preached with so much ease
and animation, that I felt more of the importance of religion last
Sunday than I ever felt before."

"I have no doubt but Mr. Ingleby is a very good man and a most
excellent preacher; but you know that Mr. Denham is so attached to
his religion, that he would not like for us to change ours. When,
Madam (addressing Mrs. John Roscoe), do you leave?"

"We think of going the early part of next week."

"No, no," said Mrs. Roscoe, "we cannot part with you so soon. You
must prolong your visit."

"Yes, dear aunt," said Miss Roscoe; "indeed you must."

"I hope, Madam, you and the Rev. Mr. Roscoe, accompanied by Mr. and
Mrs. and Miss Roscoe, will do us the honour of joining a select
dinner-party at Brushwood House this day week. Mr. Denham charged me
to take no refusal, he is so anxious for the honour of seeing you
all at his table."

"I feel obliged by your polite invitation; but I believe my husband
has to attend a clerical meeting, which will render it absolutely
necessary that we should be at home on Tuesday next. If he can stay,
you may expect to see us; and I will let you know immediately after
I have seen him."

"You see, my dear," said Mrs. Denham, on her way home, "the
propriety of the suggestion which I gave you some time since, to
avoid associating with Mrs. Stevens, as it is to her influence we
may attribute the entire secession of the Roscoes from our social
parties. They are all gone, as you may perceive from our interview
with them this morning; and their example will influence others.
It is prodigiously affecting to see the progress this evangelical
religion is making, and no one can say where it will end."

"But, mamma, one thing is certain--if we judge from observation,
they are happier with their religion than we are with ours."

"Yes, my dear, they say they are happy; but what pleasure can there
be in religion?"

"I don't know, mamma; but I am sure that Mrs. Stevens and Miss
Roscoe have a larger share of happiness than I have. I often feel a
gloom come over my mind, which I can neither remove nor account for;
and sometimes I feel such a singular depression of spirit, that I am
inclined to read my Bible; but I don't know that it would do me any
good."

"Why, you know, my dear, you have been confined at home rather more
than usual, which has relaxed your nerves too much; but our parties
will soon meet, and then the gloom of which you speak will go off.
But I must request you to avoid associating with your new friends,
especially now you are somewhat depressed in spirits, or they may
bring you over to take to their religion, which would be, as I have
often told you, a most prodigious affliction to your father and
myself."

"I cannot, mamma, efface from my memory the sermon which I once
heard Mr. Ingleby preach. It sometimes recurs to my recollection
with a force that quite overpowers me; and I have such fearful
dreams. I dreamt last night that, just as I was coming out of the
theatre, the heavens all at once blazed with fire, and I thought the
day of judgment was come. I awoke in such a fright, and just then I
heard Hector howl most awfully."

"But, my dear, this was only a dream."

"But is not my dream a presentiment?"

"O, no, my dear! it's only superstitious people who ever have such a
thing as a presentiment."

"But, ma', I am unhappy, indeed I am. I can't forget the sermon I
heard Mr. Ingleby preach."

"I wish you had never gone to his church. I wished you not to go.
You should always follow my advice; I have more knowledge of men and
things than you have."

"True, ma'; but I often wish to hear him again. Is he not a good
man?"

"My dear Matilda, you alarm me. You wish to hear him again, when
his first sermon made you so unhappy! You must not cherish such an
idea. Indeed, you must make some effort to raise your spirits, and
drive all these gloomy thoughts out of your head, or there is no
knowing what may happen."

"But, ma', if I could drive them out of my head, I could not drive
them out of my heart. They have penetrated too deeply."

"My dear Matilda, you _must_ rouse yourself. It won't do to give
way to your melancholy ideas. Why, if you don't take care, you will
become as religious as any of them; and then, as I have told you
before, we should never have another happy day."

"My dear ma', I am unhappy, and cannot help it. With everything to
make me happy--perfect health, affectionate parents, kind friends,
the prospect of a union with the man I love--and yet I am not happy.
That fearful question, which impressed me so much when I heard it,
is perpetually sounding in my ears."

"What question do you refer to?"

"It is this, which I have repeated to you before--_Should_ you like
to pass from the theatre to the judgment-seat of Christ?"

"But that, my dear, was in his sermon, and he could not help reading
it. He did not mean you, and I wonder why you should recollect it
so. You should forget it."

"But I can't forget it. It is always returning. I hear it now. I
hear it in company. I hear it in solitude. And in the dead of the
night, when I awake, as I often do, I hear it then."

"Your papa has spoken to me several times lately about you. He says
he is sure, from your melancholy looks and absence of mind, that
there is something the matter with you. He thought, till I satisfied
him to the contrary, that there was likely to be some rupture
between you and Mr. Ryder. He is urging me to grant you every
indulgence in our power."

"I am strongly tempted to become religious, to see if that would
make me happy."

"I am glad, my dear, it is only a temptation. You know our Saviour
has taught us to pray, Lead us not into temptation. This accounts
for something I saw the other day, which rather distressed me."

"What was that, ma'?"

"I saw a Bible on your toilet."

"O yes, I recollect. I heard a poor woman say that her Bible made
her happy, and I thought for the moment it might make me happy.
But I could not make out which part I ought to read first, so as
to understand it; and, therefore, I didn't read much. I read the
history of Joseph, which pleased me a little; and I read some of the
gospel stories; but the other parts I cannot understand. It is to me
altogether a book of mystery."

"Nor can I understand it. It is a book of mystery to me as well
as to you. But, dear, one thing is certain--the Almighty does not
require you, now you are so young, the very life and soul of all
our parties, to give your mind to such awful subjects as the Bible
speaks about."

"Perhaps not, but still I am restless and uneasy. Indeed, I
sometimes think of going to consult Mr. Ingleby; he may be able to
give me some advice which may do me good."

"Dear Matilda, by no means do such a thing. If he could once get you
into the Rectory, he would be sure to convert you to his religion.
Keep up your spirits. We will go to Brighton soon; then to the
altar. Then the tour, and then the return and the visiting. You will
soon be as happy as the day is long."

"I hope God will bless me, and make me happy."

"There's no doubt about that."

"Then, ma', if he will bless me, why does he let me live so unhappy?
I have tried to pray to him to make me happy; but it's of no use.
What can I do?"

"You must go into company more."

"It is useless. I can't now enjoy what I used to enjoy so much; and
I don't know the cause. I feel doomed by fate to unhappiness, and
yet I have everything to make me happy."

"I'll speak to Dr. Bailey; he is very likely to give a prescription
that may relieve you."

"No physician's prescription will ever soothe the pangs of a wounded
spirit."

"My dear Matilda, your case greatly distresses me, and your papa
too. Tell us what we can do to comfort you, and we will do it."

"I cannot tell. What a contrast between Miss Roscoe and myself!
How cheerful she is! what a sweet smile is always playing on her
countenance! how lively and energetic she is, while I am wretched
and depressed, weary of life, yet living in the dread of death; more
wretched, while in the possession of abundance, than the poor in
their poverty."

Some few weeks after this conversation, Miss Denham, on her return
from making some morning calls, said to her mamma, "You recollect
our meeting Mr. Cole, the last time we were at Mr. Roscoe's?"

"Yes, dear."

"And do you recollect the remark you made on his leaving us?"

"No."

"You said, 'I wonder what is the matter. Mr. Cole looks so much
annoyed to-day.'"

"I now recollect it, and I thought of it several times during the
week, but I don't cherish such gloomy things as you do."

"Then I can tell you what affected him. I have just heard it. It
will astonish you. No one expected such a thing; it is so strange
and unlikely."

"What is it?"

"You know Miss Amelia Stubbs has been very ill many weeks and is
likely to die."

"Yes, I heard it from Dr. Bailey."

"Her papa, when she was given over by Dr. Bailey and another
physician, sent for Mr. Cole, and he talked to her, and gave her the
sacrament and absolution, and then assured her that all was done
that was necessary to be done to fit her for heaven; and he told her
that now she might be resigned to her fate without any fear, as her
peace with God was made on the sanctity of the sacrament."

"Very proper, dear. It is not, I believe, quite safe to die without
taking the sacrament. I should do that the first thing if I were
a-dying."

"Exactly so, ma'. After Amelia had taken it, and when all thought
she had made her peace with God, and was quite resigned to die, she
sent for Mr. Cole again, and told him that what he had done was of
no use, and that she dreaded dying just as much after taking the
sacrament and absolution, as she did before she took it. It was this
that so much affected him. He had just left her when we met him."

"But why should he care about it, if he did what the church
prescribes to be done? He did his duty, and that ought to have
satisfied him."

"But, he says, it is such an indirect impeachment of his competency
to perform his clerical functions."

"I have no doubt, if the real state of the case were known, that
Mrs. Stevens has been with her, and undone what Mr. Cole did. She is
always prowling about amongst the sick and the dying, disquieting
their minds after the clergy have helped them to make their peace
with God."

"No, ma', she had not seen Mrs. Stevens. Her disquietude of soul
came of itself."

"How do you know that?"

"I have just seen her, and she told me so. She said, and she spoke
emphatically when she said it, 'To give the sacrament and absolution
to fit a person for dying, as a sort of a passport to heaven, is a
great delusion.'"

"Depend on it, dear, that her fever has affected her brain. She must
be in a state of delirium."

"No, ma', she is quite herself--as calm and as collected as when in
perfect health. And she talks now so sweetly about Jesus Christ, and
about his love for sinners, and about coming to him to be saved,
that she really made me weep, though I could not comprehend her
meaning. You would not know her if you were to hear her speak now,
so different to her former talk. She talks now like a saint just
going into heaven. It is quite wonderful. I can't make it out."

"Then I suppose Mr. Ingleby has been with her."

"Yes; her papa, at her request, sent for him; and he talked to her,
so she told me, so sweetly about Jesus Christ, about his compassion
and his love, and about his being able and willing to save her, and
prayed with her so sweetly, that now she says she is quite happy at
the thought of dying--that she would rather die than live."

"All this is quite marvellous."

"Exactly so. It has taken the whole circle of her intimacy by
surprise. Everybody is talking about it, and nobody can make it out.
Only think, a young lady with her bright prospects saying she would
rather die than live!"

"Did Mr. Ingleby give her the sacrament and absolution?"

"No, ma', he did nothing but explain the Bible to her, and pray with
her."

"Is she dying?"

"She is just now a little revived; but she told me again, she would
rather die than live; and there was such a sweet smile on her
countenance when she said it."

"Marvellous! But are you quite sure she is not in a state of
delirium? This is how delirious people talk, so I have heard."

"She is no more delirious than I am. She told me, that if she
should get well again, which she did not expect, she would have
nothing more to do with balls, theatres, and card-parties; and she
said so many solemn things to me about my soul, and its salvation
and another world, and urged me so earnestly and affectionately to
prepare for death while time was given me for such preparation, that
I am become as low-spirited as ever, and don't know what to do. It
is marvellous to hear with what ease, and fluency, and earnestness,
she now talks on these awful subjects."

"One strange thing now comes so soon after another, that I get quite
bewildered, but I suppose after a while things will settle down, and
we shall be as quiet as ever. It is this evangelical religion that
is doing all the mischief. What a pity that our Maker does not,
somehow or another, put a stop to it."

"But, ma', people can't die in peace without it, though they can
live without it. How will you account for this?"

"I don't know, as I never studied the subject; and I wish you would
banish it from your mind, and talk about something else."

"I may talk about something else, ma', but to banish it from my mind
is more than I am able to do."

The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of the Rev. Mr.
Cole.

"We were just talking about this strange case of Miss Amelia Stubbs.
How unpolite in her to tell you that the administration of the
sacrament and absolution was a great delusion, when it is the very
thing our church prescribes to fit a dying person for heaven!"

"Ay, she is to be pitied. Her mind is affected."

"So I believe, and so I have said. Is she likely to get any better
before death?"

"No, Madam; there is no chance of that now, as Mr. Ingleby has her
under his care."

"I think," said Miss Denham, "she is scarcely to be pitied. She is
as calm and as collected as when in perfect health, and appears so
happy when speaking of the bliss she expects to enjoy after death.
She says she would rather die than live."

"This, I know, is what the evangelicals say, but I won't believe it."

"I believe it, Sir, for I have seen her, and heard her say so. I
wish I was half as happy with the prospect of living as she is with
the prospect of dying. Can you account for this wonderful change
from a dread of death to a desire to die?"

"It's all effervescent excitement."

"A most pleasant one, just such an excitement as I should like if I
were dying."

"My dear, you are overstepping the bounds of reverential propriety,
by offering such free remarks to Mr. Cole."

"I hope not, ma'; it is not my intention to do so; but I can't help
saying that, while standing beside her death-bed, I envied her her
happiness. She told me that the sacrament did not take from her the
dread of dying, but the sweet promise of Jesus Christ did."

"What promise of Jesus Christ did she refer to? To one, I suppose,
that she heard in a fit of delirium. Delirious people always see
imaginary sights, and hear imaginary sounds, and yet they think them
real."

"O no, Sir, there's no delirium in her case. It was a promise which
Mr. Ingleby read to her out of the Bible, and it was something like
this, '_Come to me, and I will give you rest_.'"

"I shall have no rest as long as Mr. Ingleby is suffered to invade
my ecclesiastical territory, and pervert my parishioners from the
sacraments of our church to his evangelical notions. I mean to
complain of him to the bishop of our diocese, and have him cited
before him."

"I don't like," said Miss Denham, after Mr. Cole left, "this
citation reference. I wonder what he will say to the bishop, and I
wonder what the bishop will say to him. Will he tell him that he
visited a young lady of his parish when she was dying, and gave her
the sacrament and absolution, according to the prescribed forms
of the church, but they failed in her case in the efficacy of
their power, as she dreaded death as much after she had taken the
sacrament as she did before it was given to her? Will he then go on
to say, that Mr. Ingleby was then invited to see her, and that he,
by repeating and explaining to her some promise of Jesus Christ,
which he read to her out of the Bible, succeeded in taking from
her heart all dread of death, and in inspiring her with a joyful
hope of immortality? Do you think he will do this, and then pray
his lordship to issue a censure, and an interdiction to prevent his
doing such a kind thing to any other person?"

"O no, dear, he won't do anything so highly indecorous. It was a
hasty expression."

"I hope so, because the _morale_ of such an application would be
this: he would rather his parishioners should die in despair, than
they should derive hope and spiritual consolation from the promises
of Jesus Christ, repeated to them and explained to them by a brother
clergyman of another parish."

"But, dear Matilda, in this case the brother clergyman is an
evangelical."

"Admitted; but then he does what Mr. Cole could not do; he gives
consolation and hope to a person when dying. This case is causing
much excitement; it is bringing the efficacy of the sacraments into
disrepute. I shall never, ma', forget my interview with Amelia; her
serene look, her composure, the soft yet full intonations of her
voice when bidding adieu to what she called this vain world, and
hailing the dawn of a blissful immortality. And, ma', she wept many
tears when she was urging me to flee from the wrath to come."

"Why, dear, it was very uncharitable in her even to suppose that
such a dear innocent as you are is exposed to the wrath to come, but
to allude to it was an act of great rudeness. I wonder you did not
resent it."

"Really, ma', I felt when she was speaking as though what she said
was very applicable and proper. But perhaps we were both labouring
under a wrong impression. However, the conclusion which I have come
to is this, though I have not mentioned it to any one before, that
there is a power in evangelical religion of which we can form no
idea. There's a mystery about it I cannot fathom."

"I am glad that dear Amelia is happy in prospect of death; she was
always a virtuous girl, with a good heart; and now we will dismiss
the subject, to talk about something else. Come, let us go into
the drawing-room, and we will have a little music. You dwell on
melancholy ideas too much; dismiss them, dear."

"Dismiss them! Why, ma', my thoughts come and go without my control.
Some are strange thoughts, such as I never had before, and some are
the same as usual. My mind is quite jaded by its own activity; and
if I go to rest, and go to sleep, it is just the same then, as it
is now. I often wonder what the issue of all this mental turmoil
will be."

"Here is Mr. Ryder and his sister coming; they will cheer you up."

"Don't tell them that I am unhappy; it may excite suspicion or
jealousy."



THE SCENE CHANGES.


An arrangement having been made by a few of the gay young people
of Aston to go to a public ball, Miss Denham yielded to the
solicitations of Mr. Ryder, her betrothed husband, and promised to
go with them, though not without a slight degree of reluctance.
After she had given her consent, on casually seeing the Rev. Mr.
Ingleby, as she was returning from a morning walk, his sermon on the
loss of the soul was brought so forcibly to her recollection, and
it revived so powerfully the disquieting emotions which it produced
at the time she was listening to it, that she said to her mamma, "I
think I ought not to go; the thought of going makes me feel quite
unhappy." However, the entreaties and persuasions of her mamma and
Mr. Ryder prevailed, and she accompanied the party. It was a fine
evening when they set off, and they were all in great glee; but on
their return, the night had become so dark and stormy that it was
with difficulty they reached home. The next morning Miss Denham
complained of a slight cold, and it was thought proper that she
should keep her room during the whole of the day. On the following
day she felt somewhat unwell, but not ill; and as there were a few
select friends engaged to tea and cards, she dressed, and appeared
amongst them. She was gay and sprightly, but the dew of health was
gone from her countenance; her eyes did not sparkle with their
usual lustre; and all received an impression, from her general
appearance, that some fatal disease had seized her, though no one
had courage enough to mention it.

After the party broke up she became somewhat worse; but as there
never had been much illness in the family, her parents did not
send for medical assistance, supposing that she had merely taken
a cold, from which she would soon recover. Her mamma sat by her
bedside till midnight, when she left her in a sweet sleep, having
commissioned her favourite servant to watch her through the night.
About three in the morning she became restless, awoke, and asked for
some water, which she drank with avidity, and then slumbered on for
the space of another half-hour. She awoke again, and asked for more
water; complained of its being bitter, and uttered some incoherent
sentences, which induced the servant to call up her parents. She
became composed again; slept rather more soundly; but about five
she again awoke, and seeing her mother, she said, "I have had a
very strange night--I have seen strange sights, and heard strange
sounds--I am very ill--I ought not to have gone to the ball--I
knew better--_I should not like to pass from the theatre to the
judgment-seat of Christ_!"

"O, my dear, do not suffer your mind to be so distressed. It was a
very unfavourable night; but I hope it will please the Almighty to
restore you to health very soon. Your papa has sent William for Dr.
Bailey, and we expect him here every minute."

At length, after two hours' long suspense, the trampling of
the horses announced the approach of the doctor, who was soon
introduced to her by her tender-hearted father. He made a few
inquiries--examined her pulse--looked grave--and then abruptly
retired below, followed by both her parents, who felt anxious to
know his opinion, yet dreaded to ask him for it.

"Miss Matilda," he said, "is very ill--she must be kept very
composed. I will send her some medicine, which she must take
immediately, and I will see her again about noon."

"Is there any danger, Sir?"

"There is, Madam, always some danger attendant on such a violent
seizure; but I see no great reason to apprehend a fatal issue."

The doctor's directions were strictly adhered to; but the fever
continued to rage with even greater violence, and she became
delirious. Occasionally she gave utterance to half-formed sentences,
which indicated that she sometimes thought herself listening to a
sermon _on the loss of the soul_, and at other times enjoying the
gaieties of fashionable life. Often did her father, with hurried
steps, walk up and down the lane, between the hours of twelve and
two, to look for the doctor; and just as he was sending William to
hasten his return, he saw him coming. After the second interview
with his patient, her mother ventured to say, "Do you think, Sir,
the dear creature is dying?"

"Why, no, Madam; she is still very ill, but not worse than when I
saw her in the morning. She may recover, and I hope she will; but
everything depends on her being kept composed."

"But, Sir, she is at times very delirious, and utters sayings
frightful to hear."

"That must not astonish you; it proceeds from the nature of the
complaint; it is a painful but not a dangerous symptom. I want to
subdue her fever, and if I can do that, we have nothing to fear. I
will see her again in the evening."

She continued during the afternoon much the same, but towards
evening was more composed; she recognized her mother, and conversed
a little with her; complained less of pain and of thirst, and was
so much revived that the doctor said, on leaving her, that he had
very little doubt that she would recover. During the four following
days there was no perceptible change, but on the turn of the seventh
day the fever left her. As the doctor had been very particular in
recommending her parents to keep up her spirits, to prevent her
ruminating on the subject of religion, her mamma occasionally read
to her some passages from the most amusing books she could procure,
and generally passed away the dull and tedious hours of the evening
at cards. But though she had regained her vivacity, and talked
with her accustomed ease on the past scenes of her life, and the
prospects which futurity opened up to her ardent fancy, yet she
gradually became weaker and weaker, which convinced her physician
that some incipient disease was undermining the vigour of her
constitution; yet he did not despair of her final recovery.

But though for a while some flattering symptoms gave promise of
returning health and vigour, yet at length it became evident that
death was lurking in ambush, and that the gay and accomplished
Matilda must die. One physician was called in after another, and
every expedient which human skill could devise was resorted to;
but no power could arrest the progress of the flattering yet fatal
disorder which was gradually wasting away her life. As soon as she
was informed that there was no hope of her recovery, she requested
to be left alone till she rang the bell. On this request all went
below, and sat for some time weeping together. "She is now," said
her father, "making her peace with God; let no noise be heard; this
work requires stillness; may heaven bless her in the act." The bell
rang; her anxious mother, on approaching her bedside, perceived she
was in a state of extreme agitation, and her voice faltered as she
said, "I fear, ma', I am not fit to appear before the judgment-seat
of Christ. I wish to see some clergyman who will bring words of
peace to my soul."

"That's very proper, dear. I'll send for Mr. Cole, who will, I am
sure, and with great satisfaction, give you the sacrament, and then
you will make your peace with God."

"Yes, mamma; he gave it to Amelia Stubbs when she was dying, and she
told me that she dreaded death after she had taken the sacrament as
much as she did before it was given to her; she told me that giving
the sacrament and absolution to fit a person for dying is a great
delusion. I now feel, ma', that I have been living under the spell
of a fatal delusion; but I cannot consent to die under it. Will you
send for Mr. Ingleby?"

"Mr. Ingleby!" said the astonished mother.

"Yes, ma'; he spoke words of comfort to Amelia Stubbs when she was
dying, and he may bring some words of comfort to my troubled soul.
Send for him immediately. I have not long to live, and I wish now to
turn the current of my thoughts towards the other world."

"I hope," said the weeping father, on Mrs. Denham's entrance into
the parlour, "our dear Matilda feels her soul happy."

"O no! she is not happy. Her soul is in trouble. She says that she
is not fit to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ."

"What makes her think this?"

"It is the remembrance of some question she once heard Mr. Ingleby
put when he was reading his sermon."

"Did she ever tell it you?"

"Yes; many times of late."

"Do you recollect it?"

"Yes; it was this--'Should you like to go from the theatre to the
judgment-seat of Christ?'"

"And who would? Perhaps that question was the Almighty's warning
voice speaking to her soul."

"She wishes to see the Rev. Mr. Ingleby, and requests that he may be
sent for immediately."

"Yes, I'll send for him at once, since she desires to see him. He
is a good man, and has made many happy in their last hours, and I
hope he will bring words of peace to the troubled spirit of our dear
dying child."

As the news of Miss Denham's approaching dissolution spread through
the parish, many wept, and many sent to inquire after her; but
none were more deeply affected than the Stevenses and the Roscoes.
Though they had often sent, and often called, yet they had not been
permitted to see her more than once, and then she was flushed with
the high expectation of a speedy recovery.

Mr. Denham at once sent a note to the Rev. Mr. Ingleby, informing
him of the dangerous illness of his daughter, and of her desire to
see him at his earliest convenience.

Mr. Ingleby was very soon with her; he found her seated in an
arm-chair beside the fire, with a Bible open on the table before
her; but she was too much excited to do more than extend her hand,
sitting for some time nearly motionless, in pensive silence.
There was a melancholy cast on her countenance, which formed a
strong contrast to the brilliancy of her eye, and the beautiful
though fatal hectic which flushed her cheeks. Her parents, after
making some delicate allusions to her illness, and the depression
of her spirits, withdrew, as she had requested to be left alone
with Mr. Ingleby; and after they had left the room, she very
frankly told him that she had sent for him to give her the benefit
of his instructions and his prayers. "I have lived, Sir, a gay
and a thoughtless life, but not a happy one. I have often felt
dissatisfied with the sources of my gratification, and envious of
the happiness of our friends at Fairmount; but never had resolution
enough to abandon the objects of my pursuit, nor to seek theirs. It
has now pleased the Almighty to put a stop to my career of folly and
gaiety, and I know that in a few weeks, if not days, I shall die,
and go into the eternal world; and I am not prepared for such an
awful event."

"But what convinces you that you are not prepared to go into the
eternal world; and how long have you entertained such a belief?"

"Ever since I heard you preach a sermon on the loss of the soul.
Since then I have been unhappy, and often in terror."

"Do you remember any particular passage in the sermon which
impressed and affected you?"

"O yes, Sir; one, which is fixed on my memory. It was this: '_Should
you like to go from the theatre to the judgment-seat of Christ?_'"

"To pass abruptly from such a scene of gay amusement into the
eternal world would indeed be awful, but God in mercy has interposed
to prevent it; and your present anxiety on the subject may be
regarded as a favourable sign that he is dealing graciously with
you. But as many are alarmed in the immediate prospect of death,
and pray for mercy when they cannot continue longer in a course of
folly and of sin, you will permit me to warn you against grasping
at a premature hope, which may prove more fatal, because more
deceptive, than the keenest feelings of anguish."

"O, Sir, I have no hope. My soul is deeply depressed; I cannot look
back on the scenes of my past life without being amazed at my folly.
Had I taken the warning which Amelia Stubbs gave me when she was
dying, I had not gone to the theatre or the ball-room again; and
then I had not been dying now."

"You knew her?"

"Yes, Sir; and I saw her when she was dying; and she told me she
would rather die than live. And she besought me with tears, and in
the sweetest tones of solicitude, to flee from the wrath to come.
But I was infatuated, and I saw not my danger, nor did I understand
the full import of her warning as I do now. I continued to follow
the multitude, because custom led the way, and now I must die alone.
But I am not fit to die."

"Why do you suppose that you are not fit to die?"

"Because I am a sinner; I always thought I was, when I ever thought
on the subject, but now I _feel_ that I am."

"And how long have you felt yourself a sinner?"

"O, Sir," and she wept as she spoke, "not till after I was informed
of my danger; and this aggravates my misery, because I fear that it
is a dread of punishment which disquiets my soul, rather than a true
sorrow for my sins."

"Had you ever any convictions during your gay career that you were
acting an unwise and a dangerous part?"

"O yes, often, Sir, very often; conviction would sometimes flash
over my mind, with the vividness of lightning; but then it would
soon go off again; and though I could not forget the impressions
which it produced, yet I soon ceased to feel them."

"You informed me just now that while you were sometimes dissatisfied
at your own pursuits, you often envied the superior happiness of
our pious friends at Fairmount; but why did you envy them their
happiness, when you could form no just conception of the nature of
it?"

"It is true, Sir, I could form no conception of the nature of
their happiness, but I knew they were happy--more happy without
our fantastic sources of amusement than we were with them. I never
retired from their society without being convinced that there was a
Divine reality in true religion; and yet I could not imagine what it
could be. The only idea I could form of it was going frequently to
church, reading the Bible, praying, and living a virtuous life."

"Yes, my dear, there is a Divine reality in true religion, which, I
hope, you will live to feel?"

"I cannot live, Sir, and I am not fit to die. My case is hopeless."

"No, my dear, it is not hopeless. I can repeat to you words which
have comforted thousands, and I hope they will comfort you--'_God so
loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life_.'"

"But, Sir, after living such a vain life, may I venture to rely on
his death for salvation, with a hope of obtaining it?"

"Yes, most certainly. Jesus Christ came into the world to save
sinners--those who _feel_ they are sinners--and as soon as we _feel_
our _guilt_ and our _degeneracy_, we are not only fitted to come
unto him for peace, and acceptance, and eternal life, but _invited_
in the most tender and endearing terms. Hence he says, 'Come unto
me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest.'"

"O, Sir," she suddenly exclaimed, and her eye sparkled with delight,
"these are the very words which gave comfort to dear Amelia Stubbs
when she was dying, so she told me."

"And I hope they will give comfort to your soul. They are the words
which Jesus Christ uttered when he was on earth, and addressed to
sinners like you."

"But he does not speak them to me; if he did, then I should have
comfort, because then I should have hope."

"He has had them inserted in the New Testament, and there you may
read them; and as they are placed there for the comfort of sinners
of all future times, you are authorized, when reading them, or
hearing them repeated, to believe that he IS _speaking_ to YOU, and
as really as though you could hear him giving utterance to them."

"Then I will hope in his mercy and in his power; and yet I am almost
afraid to hope. Had I felt some years, or even some months since
what I now feel, I should have been preserved from the ensnaring
influence of those fascinations which have opened for me a premature
grave, and might, in the society of my esteemed friends, Mrs.
Stevens and Miss Roscoe, have enjoyed a large share of happiness on
earth."

"But you ought to be thankful to the God of all consolation that
you have felt, in the eleventh hour, that degree of guilt, and that
clear apprehension of danger, which has induced you to run for
refuge to Jesus Christ to save you."

"Very true, Sir; and I do feel the emotion of gratitude to him
springing up in my heart. It is a new emotion, and it is a very
sweet one."

"You have often heard, when attending the services of the church,
that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinners from perishing;
did it never make any impression on your heart?"

"Yes, Sir, I heard it, but it did not impress my thoughtless mind.
But now I see it and feel it. O, how wonderful, that the Son of God
should bleed and die for such a guilty and worthless sinner as I now
feel myself to be! And may I hope, dear Sir, without being guilty
of presumption, that _he will save me_ from perishing, and admit me
into heaven?"

"You may; indeed, not to do so would be a sin, as it would be an
impeachment of his integrity."

"Then I will hope, and will bless and praise his name with all my
soul. I have been living under a fatal delusion, but I feel that I
am under no delusion now."

"No, my dear, you are now brought into connection with
realities,--sublime realities--realities which connect the two
worlds, and which explain the mysteries of time, and open a free
and a safe passage for the guilty and the worthless into eternity."

"May I now urge my last request, which is this--that ere you leave
this house, you will try to impress on the mind of my dear parents
the important truths which you have with such clearness made known
to me."

The venerable man having given her his pledge that he would attempt
to do so, then knelt down and prayed with her, and bade her
farewell, yet intending to see her again. Immediately after Mr.
Ingleby's departure she retired to rest, and slept the greater part
of the night. In the morning, when her father drew near her bedside,
and asked her if her soul was happy, she replied, "I am composed,
but not perfectly happy. I have a hope that I shall not perish, and
that I shall be saved; and this is as much as I can expect, and
far more than I deserve. I shall now soon leave you, dear father;
but before I go I have two requests to make, which I hope you will
comply with. The one is this, that you and my dear mother will go
and hear that holy man of God preach, who has brought words of
comfort to my troubled soul. He understands what religion is, and
will explain it to you more clearly and more perfectly than Mr. Cole
can do. I once, in common with others, ridiculed his evangelical
views of Divine truth, and turned the edge of satire against those
who seek happiness in the consolations of the gospel; but now I am
driven for peace and for hope to that very source. My other request
is, that you will send my affectionate regards to Mrs. Stevens and
Miss Roscoe, and say that I wish to see them as soon as they can
conveniently come."

Mr. John Ryder, who had been unremitting in his attentions during
her illness, and who was nearly frantic with grief in the prospect
of parting with her, was waiting below; and when she was asked
if he might see her once more, she replied, "I think not, it may
disturb me; I am too near an eternal world to suffer my feelings to
intermingle again with those objects on which they have been too
strongly placed." But after a long pause she added, "Yes, let him
come up. The parting scene, though painful, may be profitable."
He entered the room, pale and dejected; and though his spirit
could brave death in the high places of danger, yet now he was
appalled--seeing her preparing for the tomb, instead of the altar.
On approaching her bedside she extended her hand, and with a mild
look and softened tone, she said, "We now part, but I hope not
for ever. Death, which is now removing me, may soon call for you,
and then I hope you will find that consolation in the death of a
despised Saviour, which it has pleased God, very unexpectedly and
undeservedly, to give to me." And then, after a mutual embrace, she
drew back her hand, and concealed her face, as though her eyes were
for ever closed on things visible and temporal.

The interview with her endeared friends, Mrs. Stevens and Miss
Roscoe, gave a fresh excitement to her feelings; but it was one
of pure and unmingled satisfaction. They conversed together with
intense interest on the love of Christ, and the freeness of his
salvation; but when any reference was made to the joys of the
heavenly state, she merely expressed a hope that she might be
permitted to join the innumerable throng, though doomed to remain
unnoticed amongst them. As Mrs. Denham and the nurse were exhausted
by excessive fatigue, having had no rest for several nights,
Mrs. Stevens's and Miss Roscoe's kind offer to stay with her was
accepted. It was evident to all that she could not continue long;
for though there had been some favourable symptoms of recruited
strength, yet for the last few days the disease had made very rapid
progress, and when the physician took his leave, he said, "Be not
surprised if a sudden change should take place." She slept through
the first part of the night very composedly, but about three in the
morning she became restless, and on being raised up in the arms
of Miss Roscoe, she swooned for a few seconds, when she gradually
revived, and expressed a wish to see her parents once more. She
first kissed her mother, and bade her adieu, and then her father,
and then her two female friends, and, last of all, her old nurse;
and after a long pause she said, "I am dying, but not without hope
of obtaining eternal life, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."
She then gently reclined her head on the bosom of Mrs. Stevens, and
breathed her last.

Thus died the once gay and thoughtless Miss Denham, bearing a
testimony against the vanities of the world, which had ensnared
her, and to the importance and excellence of the faith in Christ,
which she had often made the theme of her ridicule. Had she felt
the transforming power of the truth which on one occasion she heard
fall from the lips of Mr. Ingleby, or had she given heed to the
warnings which Amelia Stubbs, when dying, addressed to her, she
might have lived, a comfort to her parents in their old age, and
an ornament to society; and, at a distant period, she might have
descended to the grave laden with the fruits of righteousness, and
rich in the anticipations of hope. But as she chose to disregard
them, and devote herself to the follies and amusements of gay life,
she was called to taste the bitterness of death in the spring-time
of her years; yet mercy spared her till she sought the redemption
of her soul, through faith in the death of the Redeemer, while
many are left in their last hours on earth to seek for enjoyment
amidst scenes of folly, and then, when death comes, they pass into
the eternal world, for which they have made no preparation. What
consternation and horror will then seize them! A ceaseless storm of
agony, which never abates, and from which there is no escape. O,
reader,

  "Be wise to-day, 'tis madness to defer."



THE TRACTARIAN AT FAULT.


Soon after the Rev. Mr. Roscoe and his lady returned home, Miss
Roscoe received the following letter from her aunt:--

"MY DEAR SOPHIA,--We are again at home, and in good health; but
before I say anything about home, I will give you a short account
of the adventures of our journey. We had, for nearly half the
distance, two gentlemen for our fellow-travellers--one a Roman
Catholic, the other a Protestant--whom I shall call Mr. O'Brian and
Mr. Robertson. Mr. O'Brian was a very demure-looking man, with a
large head, overhanging brows, and strongly marked with a severe yet
self-complacent expression. On taking his seat, he at once opened a
newspaper and commenced reading. At length, having wearied himself
by the intensity of his reading, or having exhausted the subject
matter of his paper, he folded it up, put it on his knee, took off
his spectacles, and then placing them cautiously in an elegant
silver case, he slightly changed his position, and appeared equally
intent in looking at the varied beauties of nature.

"Mr. Robertson requested that he would favour him with the use of
the paper. The favour was granted in silence, and with a somewhat
haughty bow.

"Mr. Robertson, who sat opposite me, was an interesting and
intelligent-looking man, with a bold, yet rather facetious-looking
countenance; while reading, I was much struck with his appearance,
his features underwent such frequent and rapid changes of
expression. It seemed to me that he had met with something which
alternately amused his fancy and roused his ire. The paper, I should
tell you, was from the Roman Catholic press, and contained some
marvellous tales, the description of some gorgeous ecclesiastical
ceremonies, and a Jesuitical defence of the Catholic clergy, on whom
the editor lavished many praises, for their active benevolence and
their earnestness in the grand work of saving the people.

"On returning the paper, Mr. Robertson said, 'I greatly dislike
these marvellous tales, because I think them legendary inventions;
and I greatly dislike these pompous ceremonies, because they do not
harmonize with the beautiful simplicity of the religion of the New
Testament; and though I have no doubt but some of your priests are
men of active benevolence, yet I do not think they have any more
power to save the people than any other men.'

[Illustration: DISCUSSION IN THE STAGE COACH.

Vol. i. page 422.]

"'Perhaps, Sir,' said Mr. O'Brian, 'you are what in common parlance
we call an unbeliever.'

"'No, Sir, I am not; I believe in the plenary inspiration and
absolute authority of the Bible; but I have no faith in the
infallibility or divinely delegated power of any order of
priesthood; pure sham pretensions, Sir.'

"'But, Sir, our priests are the regular successors of the apostles.'

"'They may be, but what then? Do you mean to imply, in this category
of their descent, that they are endowed with the same power and
authority as the apostles?'

"'Most certainly I do.'

"'Indeed! that is claiming a good deal of what is superhuman. The
apostles had power to work miracles; but do these priests of yours
ever do such a thing as open the eyes of a blind man, or raise a
dead man to life.'

"'No, Sir, they do not pretend to do such things. The power and
authority which is delegated to them is spiritual; to act not on
matter but on mind; to remit or retain its sins.'

"'The apostles never possessed this spiritual power, or if they did,
they never exercised it.'

"'I beg your pardon, Sir, but you are mistaken.'

"'To the law and the testimony; specify one case in which any one of
the apostles ever ventured on forgiving any man his sins.'

"'I have not my New Testament with me, or I could prove the truth of
what I say.'

"'I know all the facts of the New Testament, and if you will only
refer to any one case, I will give it to you with all its details.'

"No reply.

"'No, Sir; the apostles always directed the attention of the guilty,
for the remission of their sins, to God, seated on a throne of
grace; or directly to Jesus Christ, as a Saviour mighty to save. I
certainly will give your priests the credit of acting a very cunning
part in one particular, relating to the possession of apostolic
powers.'

"'A very cunning part, Sir! in what particular?'

"'Why, the apostles proved that they had power to work visible
miracles; but this power your priests lay no claim to, because,
if they did, they would be challenged to the proof; but they
claim an authority to forgive sins (after certain cash payments
are made), which authority the apostles never exercised; and when
they are asked for a proof that they possess it, they have none to
offer except their own fallible testimony. However, their deluded
devotees very meekly hand over the cash, which the priest very
gravely pockets, reminding me of the Ephesian jugglers, who said, in
justification of their zeal for the great goddess Diana, "_Sirs, ye
know that by this craft we have our living_." This, Sir, is worse
than mere sham; it is a daring usurpation of the Divine prerogative,
which is no less than an act of blasphemy; _for who can forgive sins
but God only?_'

"No reply.

"When Mr. O'Brian left us, his place was filled up by an elderly
man, the most profane person I ever travelled with. I watched the
changing countenance of Mr. Robertson, the rapid contraction and
distention of his brow, his intent and eager look of indignation.
Availing himself of a short pause, he said, with a very stern look,
and in an authoritative tone, 'If, Sir, you have no reverence for
God, I hope you will pay some respect to a lady, and leave off such
profane, disgusting utterances.'

"'I suppose, Sir, you are a believer in the Bible?'

"'I am, Sir.'

"'I am not. I don't believe that God takes any notice of what we say
or do.'

"'It is very possible, Sir, you may feel the full force of your
belief at some future period of your history.'

"'You speak ambiguously; will you explain your meaning?'

"'Why, Sir, it is possible you may feel, when dying, what the
generality of your profane fraternity feel--intense remorse and some
awful forebodings--and may, as they have often done, cry aloud for
mercy; and then you may be made to feel that God takes no notice of
what you say or do.'

"'I don't believe in a futurity; I no more expect to live after
death comes, than I expect my dead dog to live again, or that a
rotten cabbage-stalk will spring up into vegetable life again.'

"'Well, Sir, if you choose to die like a dog, or rot like a cabbage
stump, you will permit me to say that I don't admire your taste.'

"'I defy you to prove that I shall live after I am dead.'

"'You need not defy me to do that, for I assure you I have no wish
to do so; and really the sooner such profane beings go out of
existence the better; if not for their own sakes, yet certainly for
the sake of others.'

"This last stroke of caustic severity struck the evil spirit dumb,
and he left us very soon after.

"Your uncle took no notice of any occurrence during the whole of
the journey; he entered into no conversation, but appeared deeply
absorbed in his own thoughts, and since his return he very rarely
leaves his study, except for his meals, and these he often takes in
almost total silence. An incident occurred on Saturday week, which,
when viewed in connection with the strange alteration of his habits
and manners, induces me to hope that his religious opinions, like my
own, are undergoing a decided change. He said to me, 'I shall read
the service to-morrow, and my curate shall preach;' assigning as the
reason for such an unusual arrangement, that he could not select a
sermon to his mind; adding, 'I must get a new set.' What spiritual
influence that visit is now exerting over him, time alone will
show; but as it relates to myself, I assure you, my dear Sophia,
I shall never forget it; and I hope the vivid impressions of the
superlative importance of personal piety which I received, will
never become obliterated. The idea which most forcibly struck me was
one which came out incidentally at our interview with the excellent
Mrs. Stevens--_that genuine religion was a source of mental bliss_;
it takes its rise in the heart, and brings us into contact with a
living Saviour. As soon as this grand idea took possession of my
mind, I saw the absurdity, and I may say the impiety of deifying
the ceremonies of religion, by ascribing a regenerating power to
baptism, an absolving power to confirmation, and a saving power
to the priesthood of any church. O! how often have I uttered, in
conjunction with others, when in church, the following prayer: '_O
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon us, miserable
sinners_.' But I never _felt_ myself a miserable sinner till _now_.
I never _felt_ the need of mercy till _now_. I uttered the prayer
quite mechanically, not from the heart; but _now_ I feel its
appropriateness and its urgent necessity; and I begin to hope he
will have mercy on me and on my dear husband.

"You are aware that my sister, who is an eminently devout woman, is
also a Dissenter; and hitherto, when she has visited us, we have
felt some objection to her staying over the Sunday, because, having
no sympathy with your uncle's style of preaching, she could not go
with us to church; and we both felt a reluctance to tolerate an
inmate of the rectory going to a Dissenting chapel. But the other
evening, when alluding to her expected visit, he said to me, 'I
hope she will remain with us some weeks; and I see no good reason
why we should object to her attending the Dissenting chapel, as we
know she prefers it. The apostle commands us to be _courteous_; and
hence we must not suffer any of our ecclesiastical antipathies or
predilections to set aside the law of Christian politeness.' This
first budding of liberality was hailed by me with more delight than
we feel when gathering the first snow-drop of spring; in itself a
proof that our visit has thawed away the ice-bound antipathies of a
frigid ecclesiastical formalism. Remember me most affectionately to
your papa and mamma, and believe me to be, my dear Sophia, your most
affectionate aunt,

  "A. R."

Soon after receiving this letter, Miss Roscoe wrote to her aunt, in
the following terms:--

"MY DEAR AUNT,--Yours of the 14th more than delighted us; it excited
our gratitude to the Author of all good desires and all holy
counsels; and both mamma and papa have consented that I should come
to you as soon as I can conveniently get ready. I often prayed,
while you were with us, that your visit might prove a spiritual
blessing to us all; and I now indulge the hope that the Lord is
answering my prayers. To see you and my dear uncle moving out of
dull, monotonous formality, into newness of life, and to hail you as
fellow-heirs of the grace of life, will be indeed the consummation
of bliss. With united affection to you and yours,

  "SOPHIA."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Rev. Mr. Roscoe had not preached for many Sundays, leaving
this part of his clerical duties to be performed by his curate;
and one evening, when in conversation with his family, he made
a communication that startled them. Alluding to the discussions
which had taken place at his brother's mansion, he said, "They
have altogether unfitted me for my ministerial functions. I cannot
preach _now, for I do not know what to preach_. I am compelled to
renounce my former belief, and I see no alternative but to adopt the
evangelical faith; and yet I do not clearly understand it. It is at
present enveloped in a thick mist, which may possibly clear off as
I pursue my inquiries; and yet I scarcely know how to pursue them.
However, I have decided on one important step, which I have no doubt
will startle many, and may bring upon me some opprobrium, and that
is, I have engaged an evangelical preacher to succeed my present
curate, who leaves next Sunday, having obtained preferment. My new
curate may prove to me a counsellor and a guide." The effect of this
unexpected announcement was electrical, and some tears were shed, as
an homage of gratitude to the God of all grace.

"I hope, Sir," said Mrs. Burder, "the Divine Spirit is gently
leading you out of the darkness of theological error, into the
marvellous light of pure, evangelical truth; and though for a while
a thick mist of obscurity may envelope some parts of its harmonious
theory, yet if you follow on to know the Lord, the pathway of your
inquiry will become clearer and brighter, till in the progress of
time you will comprehend, by practical experience of its power, what
the apostle designates the height and the depth, the breadth and
the length of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge; and then
you will have both joy and peace in believing."

"It will, indeed," said Mrs. Roscoe, "be a delight to my soul to
hear pure evangelical truth proclaimed in our church, in which a
cold and frigid Tractarianism, which I never very well liked, has
long been in the ascendant."

"And to hear it proclaimed by my dear uncle," said Miss Roscoe,
"will be as joyous to my heart as the coming up of John the
Baptist out of the wilderness, proclaiming the speedy appearance
of the Messiah, was to the devout Jews, who were waiting for the
consolation of Israel."

"Your father, my dear Sophia, has been the means of effecting a
thorough revolution in my theological opinions and belief; but had
there not been another power presiding over our discussions, more
powerful than his cogent arguments, my haughty spirit would never
have yielded to him the palm of victory. Yes, and I am not ashamed
to avow it, '_by the grace of God I am what I am_.' I have always
loved my brother as my brother, but now, henceforth, I shall love
and revere him, as my spiritual father in Christ."

"Do you recollect, uncle, what part of the discussion made the first
and the deepest impression against your Tractarianism, and in favour
of evangelical truth?"

"Yes; I felt staggered by the case of Simon Magus,[19] as a
self-evident proof that baptism is not regeneration. The argument
rising out of the possible loss[20] of a parish register I felt to
be very powerful. I was also, more than once during our debates,
very solemnly impressed by your father's serious and intense
earnestness; but one expression he uttered, when replying to some
observations of your aunt, went to the core of my heart, and I could
not extract it."

  [19] See page 321.

  [20] See page 348.

"Do you recollect the expression?" said Miss Roscoe.

"Yes, and its accompaniments, and the long train of reflections it
gave rise to. It was this:--'All false religions take man as he is,
and leave him essentially the same; but in genuine religion the
_man_ changes,'[21] and I saw an illustration and confirmation of
this in your papa. I recollected the time when he was as decided
a Tractarian as myself, equally averse to evangelical truth, and
more intolerant in his spirit against others. The conversion of
Saul of Tarsus did not excite more astonishment amongst the Jews
and the disciples of Christ, than I felt at the change which had
taken place in my brother. In him I saw a living proof that the
_man changes_,[21] and I saw also that the change brought him into
a nearer spiritual conformity to the primitive disciples of Jesus
Christ. Then the emphatic exclamation of your aunt helped on this
new process of thinking and feeling, and my spirit instinctively
responded to the truthfulness of her utterance, 'I must have the
religion of principle--that of mere form has no life; it does not
bring me into contact with a living Saviour.'"

[21] See page 344.

"I often felt," said Mrs. John Roscoe, addressing her niece,
"when associating with your friends, that I was with persons of a
new order, very diverse in spirit and in style of speech to our
Tractarian neighbours,--advocates for the same ecclesiastical
ceremonies, but regarding them merely as the external medium for the
conveyance of Divine truth and grace to the mind; not magnifying
them, as endowed with any mysterious, self-contained power to
operate by their own immediate agency. But the point of difference
which struck me most forcibly, was their constant reference to the
absolute necessity of a supernatural renovation of the soul, and the
infusion of a new and spiritual life."

"And, my dear aunt, was this the only point of difference which you
discerned between us and your Tractarian friends?"

"O no. Perhaps if I refer to a passage in a sermon which I heard
the venerable Mr. Ingleby preach, it will give you an idea of the
other point of difference I perceived. It was contained in a sermon
from John iii. 14, 15, and was to this effect: Jesus Christ stands
in the same relation to us which the elevated brazen serpent did to
the bitten Israelites--every one who looked to it was healed. We,
as sinners, are thus addressed: 'Look unto me, and be ye saved, all
the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else' (Isa.
xlv. 22). 'You are not,' he said, with intense earnestness, 'to look
to your virtues for salvation, nor are you to look to your religious
ceremonies for salvation; but you are to look to Jesus Christ,
symbolized by the brazen serpent of the Hebrew camp, a living
Saviour, and one mighty to save.' This was a beautiful passage,
beautiful from its simplicity and its adaptation to our condition.
I have been baptized, confirmed, have taken the sacrament many
times, and have passed through the entire process of ecclesiastical
training, but I now find I am not spiritually regenerated, and that
I need a Saviour just as much as any unbaptized heathen."

"Tractarians," said Miss Roscoe, "neither deny nor repudiate Jesus
Christ; they maintain his original dignity, and often depict, in
strongly exciting language, his humiliation and his sufferings.
They also extol him as the perfection of moral dignity, combined
with personal excellencies of the purest order; but they do not
give to him that prominence as a Saviour mighty to save, which the
inspired writers and which the evangelical clergy give to him. His
substitutional work they virtually reject, as we do the legend of
baptismal regeneration. He is, in their ecclesiastical domain,
more as the spectre of the Christian faith, moving silently in dim
twilight amongst its established forms and lifeless ceremonies, than
as the ever-living Son of God, giving life to the spiritually dead,
healing the moral disorders of fallen humanity, and saving the chief
of sinners from everlasting woe."

On Sunday afternoon they all went to church, and heard the curate
deliver his farewell sermon, which, like most sermons of the same
school, was a pompous eulogium on the church, its apostolic orders,
and its sacraments. Jesus Christ was visible in the remote distance,
but not drawing the people to himself by the virtue of his death;
the efficacy of the attractive power was deposited in the laver of
baptism, and the absolution of the priesthood.

"I am devoutly thankful," said Mrs. Roscoe, as they were returning
from church, "that this is the last sermon of the Tractarian school
we shall have from this pulpit."

"I think," said Miss Roscoe, as they were chatting together after
tea, "we shall be guilty of no offence against any law of our
statute-book if we go together to the Dissenting chapel this
evening, as we have no service at church."

"I shall not object," said Mr. Roscoe, "to your going; but if I
go, now that I have appointed an evangelical curate to do duty at
church, a report may be raised that I am going to turn Dissenter.
This would most likely operate to my prejudice. However, I intend to
hear the sermon, which I can do very easily by walking in the garden
alongside the chapel, where I have of late heard many of Mr. Davis's
sermons, and have more than admired them; I have felt them."

"My uncle! you progress in liberality rather rapidly. I hope this
is not a sign that you will soon be taken from us; choice fruit
sometimes gets prematurely ripe."

"O no. I am not meet for heaven as yet. But now that I begin to
know and feel the real power of the truth on my _heart_, I shall
throw off the mantle of bigotry; it never sits gracefully on a true
believer in Christ. One faith ought to produce one spirit--the
spirit of love and Christian fellowship. We shall all be one in
heaven, and why not all one on earth?"

The text for the evening sermon was part of the 29th verse of the
34th chapter of the prophecies of Ezekiel--"A PLANT OF RENOWN."
After a concise exposition of the prophecy, Mr. Davis remarked, "It
is not my intention to give you a lecture on the future restoration
of the Jews to the land of their fathers, but rather to fix your
attention on that glorious _One_ who is announced in my text under
the beautifully appropriate image of a plant of renown. That it
refers exclusively to Jesus Christ I shall take for granted, and the
following is the leading question I mean to discuss--What is the
primary cause to which his pre-eminent distinction and celebrity
may be attributed? That there are some subordinate causes which
have contributed to it, I readily admit, such as his miracles,
his teaching, and the moral grandeur and social loveliness of his
character; but these, though brilliant and imposing, are not enough
to account for the unparalleled celebrity which he still maintains
in universal estimation. For suppose, after performing the miracles
which he did perform, and after conveying the knowledge of spiritual
truths which he did convey, and after developing the character which
he did develope, he had suddenly disappeared, like Enoch or Elijah,
doing nothing more in behalf of man, what an impenetrable cloud of
mystery would hang over the design of his appearing on earth? We
should, in that case, be reduced to the necessity of believing that
the greatest, the wisest, and the most benevolent being that ever
appeared in the human form, came and went away without accomplishing
any purpose commensurate with the moral grandeur of his character,
or the vastness of his resources for practical utility. He would
flit before our imagination as a wonderful being, but a being
of no essential importance to us. His history might live in our
recollection without exciting an emotion of gratitude or of love,
or it might pass from our recollection without our sustaining any
perceptible loss, proving a vast brilliant mirage in the dreary
desert of humanity; or, like some splendid night-dream, leaving at
the dawn of morning its romantic incidents feebly and uselessly
imprinted on the fancy. If, then, his splendid miracles, his sublime
revelation of spiritual truth, and his unique character, blending in
equal proportions the perfections of divinity with the excellencies
of unfallen humanity, are insufficient to account for his unfading
and ever-increasing celebrity, and for the absolute dominion he
holds over the thoughts, the admiration, and the supreme affection
of his disciples, of every tribe and every grade of the intellectual
and social world, to what other cause are we to attribute it? To
what other cause! to his death, and the relation in which he stands,
by virtue of his death, to the great family of man. He came to give
his life a ransom for many; his life he gave, laying it down of
himself; he suffered, the just for the unjust; he died for us.

"Death severs all relative connections; but the living survivors
can derive no benefit from the departed, because all intercourse
is broken off, and the medium of communication destroyed. But here
is an exception to the universal rule; by giving his life as a
ransom for sinners, he became the Saviour of all who believe in
him, and his death is the mystic power which brings them into a
close and indissoluble union and fellowship with him. John Bunyan,
when incarcerated in Bedford jail, was building up his fame as one
of the most sagacious moral philosophers of his age; his genius,
having gauged the depth of human sorrow, discovered and made known
the source of its alleviation and relief--by an allegorical form
of representation, which charms the imagination while it touches
the heart. His Pilgrim leaves the City of Destruction with a heavy
burden on his back, and he groans beneath its weight through every
stage of his progress, till, on ascending a little eminence, he
suddenly and unexpectedly descries the cross, when in a moment the
straps of his burden snap asunder; it rolls off and disappears. This
was to him a joyful discovery; and he exclaims, 'He hath given me
rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.' Yes, brethren--

                        ----'The cross!
    There and there only, is the power to save.
    There no delusive hope invites despair;
    No mock'ry meets you, no deception there.
    The spells and charms that blinded you before,
    All vanish there, and fascinate no more.'

Hence, when a sinner feels the pressure of guilt on his conscience,
and stands terror-struck lest the wrath of God should fall upon him,
he looks by faith to Jesus Christ giving his life a ransom, and then
a power is emitted which soothes his sorrows and allays his fears,
and gives him joy and peace in believing. And when he arrives at the
great crisis of his destiny, conscious that he is going from this
world into the great world of spirits, what is it that braces up the
nerves of his soul, now on the eve of becoming disembodied? what
is it that gives buoyancy to his hope, and calmness if not ecstasy
to his feelings? what is it that acts with such great power at
such an eventful crisis?--it is a simple trust in the efficacy of
the death of Jesus Christ. Hence you may often hear the departing
believer saying, as his last audible utterance, _Who loved me_, and
GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME; and his conscious assurance of this great fact
disarms death of his sting, and he passes onward into the eternal
world with a hope full of immortality."

After proving that he will maintain his celebrity through all future
periods of time, and onwards for ever, both in the estimation
of the saved and the lost--the saved will never forget him, or
cease to feel the manifestations of his love; nor will the lost
ever forget him, or cease to feel the terror of his righteous
displeasure--he concluded his sermon as follows:--"Will those doomed
spirits, who were his contemporaries during his earthly sojourn,
and who distinguished themselves by their daring and unprovoked
hostility, ever forget his appearance when they held him under their
subjection, or his appearance now he has them under his own? Will
Judas ever forget taking the sop, and then going deliberately away
to receive the reward of treachery? Will he ever forget re-entering
the garden, passing along its lonely pathway, followed by an armed
force, and stepping forward in advance to give the appointed signal,
by saluting him? Will he ever forget the tortuous question, which
still vibrates on his ear--'_Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man
with a kiss_?' Will Caiaphas, the high-priest, ever forget rending
his clothes, and accusing him of blasphemy, because he admitted he
was the Son of God? Or will any of his associates in the council
ever forget that they once spat in his face, and buffeted him, and
smote him with the palms of their hands? Will Herod and his men of
war, now seeing him on his throne of majesty, ever forget setting
him at nought, and mocking him, arraying him in a gorgeous robe,
and dismissing him in derisive scorn and contempt? Will Pilate ever
forget when the Lord of glory stood as a criminal at his tribunal?
or when, after pronouncing his innocence, he ordered him to be
stripped, and scourged, and then sent him forth to the death of
torture and infamy? Will the man who placed the crown of thorns on
his head, or the man who put the reed of mockery in his hand, or the
men who nailed him to the cross, or the debased malefactor, whose
last breath was spent in reviling him--or will any of the Scribes
and the Pharisees, whose malignant spirit gave an impulse and a tone
to the infuriated rabble, ever forget what they did and what they
said against _Him_ who now sits on the throne of majesty and of
power, and the day of whose vengeance is come? Ah! no. He will be
held in everlasting remembrance by celestial and infernal spirits,
and by the saved and the lost, who once sojourned in this vale of
tears."

"There is," said Mr. Roscoe, "I must confess, a power and an
impressiveness in this style of preaching, as much superior to our
cold and formal Tractarianism, as the beauty and the fertility of
summer surpasses the icy chills and sterility of winter."

"The one," said Miss Roscoe, "is the empire of death; the other, of
life."

"I long," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "for next Sunday, when I hope we
shall hear, for the first time in our church, the glorious gospel of
the blessed God."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Sabbath dawned, and it was a lovely day. Public curiosity had
been awakened by the suddenness and novelty of the change; the
church was crowded, for the fame of the preacher had preceded
him. The service was read by the Rev. Mr. Roscoe. His new curate
entered the pulpit with graceful ease, his countenance betokening
a deep sense of his responsibility to God and to the people, to
act a faithful part in the ministration of Divine truth. His text
was a very appropriate one, and it was announced with impressive
distinctness, yet in a mild and rather pathetic tone: "_Unto me,
who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,
that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of
Christ_" (Eph. iii. 8). After a very brief introduction, he said,
"Here are two things to which I will now call your attention,
first, the estimate which the apostle forms of himself; and, second,
the commission he was engaged to execute." A few extracts from the
_second_ division of his discourse, may not be unacceptable to the
intelligent reader. He first gave a graphic sketch of the impure
and degrading mythology of the Gentile world, and the safeguards
which were placed around it, by the sagacity of its priests, in
conjunction with imperial authority, to protect it against any
movements which might be made to subvert it, or bring it under the
ban of popular outrage or odium. He then represented Paul taking
a survey of it, meditating on its antiquity, its imposing and
beguiling fascinations, its undisputed ascendency over the passions
and prejudices of the people, exclaiming, in anticipation of its
overthrow, But _who is sufficient_ to do it? "His faith, brethren,"
said the preacher, "was as strong as his zeal was ardent; and while
conscious that he was in himself less than the least of all saints,
yet he knew he had received a commission to go forth and destroy
this stronghold of Satanic impurity and crime, and he was to do this
by preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ.

"1. The subject of his preaching was _defined_. He was to preach
about Jesus Christ. He doubtless told the people that Jesus Christ
was the Son of God, who had appeared on earth in the likeness of
men; and then, after giving a sketch of his character, detailing
some of his miracles, and repeating some of his sayings, he
announced his ignominious and agonizing death. Had Paul been an
impostor or a fanatic, and had Jesus Christ been, what our German
infidels say he was, a mythical being, the apostle would have cast
the myth of his death into the shade, under a full conviction
that it was far more likely to elicit the expression of scornful
contempt, than to awaken any poignant or sublime emotions in the
souls of the people. But no; his death is the chief subject of the
apostle's preaching--the magnetic power of a mysterious attraction,
awakening morbid sensibilities, and stirring death itself into
vigorous life; it is _the_ fact of his extraordinary history on
which he dwells with impassioned earnestness: 'For I determined not
to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified'
(1 Cor. ii. 2). He does not dwell on his tragical death to excite
popular odium against his murderers, nor to excite popular sympathy
or admiration by a description of the calm self-possession and the
moral dignity he displayed in his sufferings; but he dwells on it
as a marvellous manifestation of Divine benevolence: 'For God so
loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life' (John
iii. 16; Rom. v).

"2. The subject of his preaching was _exclusive_. He had, as
modern preachers have, a great variety of subjects which he could
have introduced in his public ministrations; and we know that on
some occasions he did avail himself of them, as when at Athens he
exposed the absurdity of the superstitions of the people; and as
when, addressing Felix, he reasoned on righteousness, temperance,
and judgment to come, making that licentious man tremble, in the
presence of his courtiers, under the terror of his appeals; but in
general, the pity and the love of Christ for perishing sinners, and
his power and willingness to save them, constituted the leading
theme of his simple and subduing eloquence. Yes, brethren, and this
is the only theme which can render the ministrations of the pulpit
attractive and impressive; because it is the power of God unto
salvation. Jesus Christ, when on the earth, said, 'I am the way, and
the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me'
(John xiv. 6). Paul believed this, and he preached it; and so ought
we. Yes, we should enter our solemn protest against, and fearlessly
denounce, all the false and delusive expedients which superstition
and infidelity devise and adopt to conciliate the Divine favour; and
boldly maintain that there is only one way of access to the Father
for the forgiveness of our sins and for eternal life (Acts iv. 12).

"3. The subject of his preaching required no _adventitious
circumstances to make it attractive_, or to _render it successful_.
See 1 Cor. i. 21, 25. We have been gravely told by some of
our Christian philosophers, who admit the Divine origin of
Christianity, that she must be _preceded by civilization_, with its
arts and sciences, or she will never gain any splendid triumphs
amongst a rude and an uncultivated people. Then, forsooth, the
agriculturist must know how to drain his marshes, and how to cast
up his furrows; how to plant and prune his hedges, and how to
construct his dikes; before his heart can receive the incorruptible
seed of the truth, which liveth and abideth for ever. Then,
forsooth, the sculptor must know how to convert, and by the most
scientific process, the rough and shapeless block of marble into
the human form, before his soul can undergo a new creation in
Christ Jesus. Then, forsooth, the painter must know how to impress
on the canvas the face of the blue heavens, its rising and its
setting sun; the sombrous splendour of a starlight night, and
the dark and fearful thunderstorm, before he can feel the moral
attraction of the powers of the world to come. Then, forsooth,
the rude barbarians of the island and the desert must be located
in towns or cities, must abandon their wigwams, their caves, and
their mud huts, for well-ventilated and ceiled houses; must give
over the chase, and cease to pluck subsistence from the unpruned
plants of the wilderness, and participate in the luxuries of high
living; must have their museums and literary societies, their
courts of judicature, and their halls of legislation, and their
printing-presses, before they can be formed into Christian churches,
to enjoy the communion of saintly brotherhood. This is what I
call the poetry of scepticism; something to excite or soothe the
sentimental, and to act as a barrier to arrest the progress of the
faithful herald of salvation, who, like Paul, goes forth to preach
amongst the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.

"We have another set of philosophers, who have not moral courage
enough to reject Christianity as a sham or delusion, but who gravely
tell us _that she must submit to the operation of the law of
progress_, or she will never gain any conquests amongst our deep and
profound thinkers, or our men of refinement and of taste. She must
now, at the opening of this new epoch in her history--so say these
semi-sceptical philosophers--come out of her antiquated forms and
requisitions, and be moulded into a shape, and trained to a mode of
argument and address, adapted to the intellectual attainments and
delicate sensibilities of the age. A chaste and classical language
must supersede the uncouth technicalities of the olden times; reason
must now be admitted as the only standard of appeal and of judgment
on all questions of belief; arbitrary dogmas must give place to new
discoveries in the science of morals and of theology; and while a
subdued respect and reverence is still cherished in the popular
mind for the Bible, and the institutions which are upheld by its
authority, yet there must be no limits prescribed to the spirit of
free inquiry, nor must any coercive power or ceremonial arrangement
trespass on the sanctity of human freedom, or on any of our civil
or social habitudes. If we choose to dance at a ball; if we choose
to bet at the race-stand or frequent the theatre; if we choose to
shuffle the cards, or toss the dice, or strike at a billiard-table;
if we choose to take recreative pleasures on a Sunday, rather than
render obedience to the Puritanical law of its observance, and
choose to offer our adorations and our orisons to the Deity beside
murmuring streams or gurgling fountains, or on the tops of lofty
mountains, in preference to a church consecrated to his worship; and
if we should have a greater liking for the poetry of Byron or of
Wordsworth than for that of David or Isaiah, and should cherish a
stronger predilection for the novels of Scott or of Bulwer than for
the dull prose of prophets or of apostles, we feel that Christianity
has no moral right to interdict us. The day of absolutism in her
history is past and gone. She may now ask to be received amongst us
as a guest--she must not come as a despot or as a sovereign; she
may advise, but she must not command; she may breathe the words of
a soothing sympathy in the house of mourning, or in the chamber of
death, but she must not presume to utter any denunciations, if we
should say to her, what Felix once said to her heroic champion, 'Go
thy way this time, when I have a more convenient season, I will send
for thee.'

"And now, forsooth, we have a new set of philosophers[22] coming
up within our own borders, men of learning and of taste, and of
Oxford or of Cambridge training, who have recently discovered that
Christianity is not, as hitherto believed by our great theological
authorities, a remedial scheme of grace and truth, to recover
man from the ruins of the fall, _but a mere educational scheme,
to develope his inner spiritual life, and train it to a state
of perfection_. Hence, they tell us that we are to regard Jesus
Christ as a prophet and an example, rather than as a priest and a
sacrifice; and that the basis of our hope of salvation is not his
meritorious righteousness, imputed to us and received by faith, but
his personal excellencies, which he displayed through the whole
tenor of his life; these excellencies becoming inwrought in our
souls by an assimilative process, conducted by our own unaided
meditative musings. So then, according to the doctrine of this
new school of Christian philosophers, if I meditate, under the
mysterious charm of an approving sympathy, on the gentleness, the
meekness, and the patience of Jesus Christ--on his benevolence,
his heroic fortitude, and his calm endurance of suffering--on the
graceful urbanity of his manners--on the amiability of his temper
and spirit--and on the moral dignity of his character--I shall so
inwork his personal righteousness in my inner spirit as to make it
my own; and on this my hope must rest of being justified against all
the charges of a violated law, and through this source I must look
for peace with God and for final salvation.

  [22] Reference is here made to Archdeacon Hare, the Rev. Fred.
  Maurice, chaplain of Lincoln's Inn, the Rev. Mr. Trench, professor
  of divinity in King's College, London, and the Rev. Mr. Kingsley,
  rector of Eversley.

"I will meet all these new discoveries and semi-profane speculations
by one simple remark:--If the apostle had lived through all
succeeding ages up to the present time, he would continue to write
and to preach as he wrote and preached to the citizens of Ephesus
and Corinth. He would have indulged in no vain speculations, nor
would he have made any new discoveries. If he stood in this pulpit
now, and if any of the departed spirits of Ephesus or of Corinth
were raised from the dead to form part of his audience, they would
see the same man and hear the same voice, and hear that voice
giving utterance to the same truths, and in the same style and tone
of proclamation. He would again tell them, as he told them when
preaching to them, that by nature they are the children of wrath,
even as others, and are saved by grace, through faith, and that not
of themselves, it being the gift of God, 'not of works, lest any man
should boast' (Eph. ii. 9). He would preach the unsearchable riches
of Christ.

"Hence we perceive that the theme of preaching is to be the same
throughout all ages, though the heralds of its proclamation may be
different men, dying off in the progress of time, to be succeeded
by others; but woe be to that herald who dares to substitute a vain
philosophy, or any new discoveries, for the glorious gospel of the
blessed God. Hear what Paul says: 'But though we, or an angel from
heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have
preached unto you, let him be accursed' (Gal. i. 8). He has, I know,
been censured for using such awful words of denunciation, and held
up to popular reprobation, as breathing a malignant as well as a
dogmatic spirit. But, brethren, allow me to ask you one question.
Do you think it possible for human language to embody that amount
of indignant feeling which you would virtuously cherish against the
monster who, on a dangerous coast, and for no personal advantage,
would falsify the colours of the lighthouse, or who would shift the
buoys on a rocky shore? No. If you could inhale the breath of the
most scorching vengeance, you would breathe it forth against such
an infernal being, who is willing to become a wholesale murderer,
beguiling to danger and to death by the very signals which are
appointed for life and safety. Hence heavy denunciations of woe on
some special occasions are the utterances of pure benevolence. And
this is strictly correct in reference to Paul. He knew that the
gospel he preached was a true and faithful saying, the power of God
to salvation; and consequently any gospel in opposition to it would
be false and fatal: and hence he sends forth his warning voice,
as you would send forth yours if you saw a man in the very act of
changing the signals of safety for those of destruction and of death.

"In conclusion, brethren, ever remember that preaching is only the
proclamation of mercy and of grace. It is an instrument of power;
but it is nothing more. To you the word of salvation is now brought,
and to you it has been delivered this night; will you receive it,
or will you reject it? If you receive it in faith and in love, it
will prove a savour of life unto life; but if you reject or neglect
it, it will prove a savour of death unto death. On its reception or
rejection your eternal destiny is dependent, and shall that destiny
be endless happiness or endless woe? Decide; now is the accepted
time."

The congregation listened with close attention, and appeared
powerfully excited; a deep solemnity was the predominant expression
of almost every countenance, quite unlike the apathetic indifference
of former times. On passing away from the church, with Mrs. Roscoe
and his niece, who were in an ecstasy of delight, one of Mr.
Roscoe's most intelligent hearers said to him, "You have now, Sir,
a curate who is an honour to your pulpit; he knows his work, and
has given us a proof that he knows how to do it; he will very soon
fill the church, for we need, and have long felt the want of a pure
evangelical gospel. Under such a ministry we shall soon see some
signs of spiritual life amongst us."



THE POPULAR DELUSION.


A rumour having reached us that the venerable Mr. Ingleby had met
with an accident on his return from a visitation, we made a call at
the rectory, and had the gratification to find that it was a false
report. Mr. and Miss Roscoe and Mr. Lewellin came while we were
there; he detained us to tea, and then gave us an account of his
journey, which, though unattended by any remarkable incidents, was
both interesting and instructive.

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I was much pleased with our bishop; he is
a commanding figure in the pulpit, with a clear sonorous voice,
and very graceful action. I never heard a more natural speaker.
But he has other, and still greater excellencies; he is a truly
godly man--a spiritually-minded man; and he equals, if he does not
surpass, both in purity of doctrine and impressiveness of manner,
the most distinguished of our prelates."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"It is to be regretted that our bishops don't preach
as Paul and the other apostles preached--in season and out of
season--anywhere and at any time; proving, by the multiplicity of
their labours, that they are in earnest in their efforts to save
souls from perishing."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"There is some difference between our modern
Episcopal bishops and the bishops of the New Testament, though they
profess to be their lineal descendants."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, the bishops of the New Testament were fishermen
or tent-makers; men of a meek and lowly spirit, who coveted no
man's gold or silver; they thirsted for no secular honour; in their
own estimation they were less than the least of all saints; and
the highest point of their ambition was to preach amongst Jews
and Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, regardless of the
privations and sufferings to which this exposed them. But a mitre
now adorns the brow of our Episcopal bishops; there is a graceful
magnificence in their appearance, and they are in general men of a
lofty bearing; their superb palaces are decorated with the skilful
devices of sculptors and painters; they roll in carriages, and
fare sumptuously every day; they may be seen occupying their seats
in the legislative council of the nation, and on days of public
audience Cæsar admits them into his august presence, and his princes
and nobles do not hesitate to bow down and do them homage. What a
striking contrast between the primitive and our modern bishops!"

_Mr. Stevens._--"And you may add, Sir, between the primitive church
of the apostles, and our modern Episcopal Church. The latter is
distinguished by its wealth and splendour, the former by its extreme
simplicity and purity. The Apostolic Church was founded for the
edification and safety of its members, who were an incorporation
of independent freemen, to whom the right of private judgment was
conceded; the Episcopal Church is an ecclesiastical institution,
established for the support of an hierarchical priesthood, who, like
despots, admit of no interference from the people over whom their
jurisdiction extends."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I must confess that I should like to see our
church brought into a nearer resemblance to the Apostolic Church
of the New Testament; but still I think we may look upon it, with
all its faults, as a national blessing; and if we could get the
Tractarians expelled, it would stand as a mighty breakwater against
the drifting currents of Popery and infidelity."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But most of our bishops have a strong bias towards
Tractarianism, because it is so favourable to their spiritual
despotism; it increases and consolidates their power, and under its
sway the lay members of the church are reduced to a state of abject
submissiveness to the priesthood, similar to the condition of the
members of the Church of Rome. The inferior order of priests rule
the people, and the bishops govern the priests; the laity have no
voice in the appointment of any of them; and if, as is sometimes
the case, they object to their teachings as having a tendency to
establish Roman Catholicism on the ruins of the Protestant faith,
they can obtain no redress against such a fatal result."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"But, happily, there are exceptions to this
general rule, and our bishop is a very decided one. He is a good
and faithful minister of Jesus Christ, imbued with a _Pauline_
spirit; and the sermon which he delivered to his clergy was both
appropriate and impressive. I was quite delighted with it, and so
were some of my brethren, especially our pious and intelligent lay
brethren. The text was taken from Rom. xiv. 17: 'For the kingdom of
God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in
the Holy Ghost.' The bearing of the discourse was to prove that the
essence of religion consists in supreme love to God our Saviour, and
uniform and cheerful obedience to his revealed will; and not in a
mere conformity to ecclesiastical regulations, and the observance of
ceremonial rites. And when addressing the clergy at the conclusion,
he said, 'My beloved brethren, to whom is intrusted the ministry of
reconciliation, you will not neglect to observe the rules which the
church has laid down for the government of her clergy, nor omit to
administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, but ever
keep in mind the sacred and imperative command of your Divine Lord
and Master--"GO AND PREACH THE GOSPEL"--for it is the _gospel_ which
is the power of God to the salvation of the people. Preach it fully,
clearly, and faithfully--in season and out of season--and with all
the energy of your soul. Before you enter your pulpits to preach,
retire to your closets to get your heart imbued with the unction of
the Spirit; and when you return from your labours, withdraw to your
closets to invoke the Divine Spirit to impress your message of grace
and mercy on the hearts of the people. Ever remember you are in some
degree responsible for their salvation.'"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Why, Sir, this was like an apostolic sermon. Did the
clergy listen to it; and did they appear to like it?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir, they listened, and some of them were
delighted with it; but I fear the majority thought it savoured too
strongly of the spirit of the evangelical school; they appeared
rather restless."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I recently spent a few days with an old friend,
when I was introduced to several Puseyite clergymen, with whom
he keeps up a close intimacy. They are, in general, accomplished
and intelligent, but bitter in spirit against Dissenters, and, if
possible, I think more bitter against their evangelical brethren.
They say the Dissenters are honest foes to the church, because they
avow their hostility; but the evangelical clergy, they say, are sly,
artful, and dishonest, who conform to betray--take the loaves and
the fishes of the church, while they are labouring to destroy it."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"Of what practical use, Sir, is your act
of uniformity? The Dissenters have no such an act in their
ecclesiastical statute-book, and yet, with the exception of a few
Socinians, we agree on all the essential truths of the Christian
faith, and our ministers preach in each other's pulpits without
making any compromise, or giving any offence; but it is not so
amongst the clergy of your church, even though they are under a
legal obligation to believe alike. Why, Sir, it is Jew and Samaritan
dwelling together in the land of promise, still refusing to have any
dealings with each other, though they avow allegiance to the same
prince."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, Sir, our clergy are two distinct orders of men,
subscribing to the same creed; yet the faith for which some contend,
as the original faith once delivered to the saints, is disdainfully
rejected by others as false doctrine."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"The evil which you, Sir, and other stanch
Churchmen see and deplore, without being able to correct it, takes
its rise in this plain palpable fact--the reformation from Popery
in England was not a thorough reformation; it was no plucking
up by the root, as in Scotland; it was mere topping and lopping
work. It was more like a transfer of the Papacy, a little changed
and a little modified, from the Pope to the English monarch, to
answer his ambitious purpose, than a transformation of the Papal
superstition into the Protestant faith of the New Testament.
Why, Sir, there is very little difference between a Tractarian
clergyman and a Roman Catholic priest; they both claim the same high
prerogatives, and arrogate to themselves the same submissiveness
on the part of the people, restrict salvation within the pale of
their own church, and assume a delegated power to discharge all
the functions of their office, without any acknowledgment of their
dependence on a supernatural agency. They are dogmatic, imperious,
and intolerant--spiritual Ishmaelites, whose hands are against every
man belonging to another order; they are, in temper and in spirit,
a perfect contrast to the apostles of the New Testament, from whom
they profess to derive their descent."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Your description is strong, but, alas! it is
too true. I recollect one day, when there was a large number of
Tractarian clergy at my friend's, being rather provoked by the
Papal-like style of speech which prevailed amongst them, and
availing myself of a favourable opportunity, I said, 'Gentlemen,
I can hardly bring my mind to believe that you are the genuine
successors of the apostles, as you assume to yourselves a
self-sufficient power for the performance of your duties. The
apostles spoke as men who were appointed to act ministerially,
always acknowledging that their success depended on the concurrence
of a Divine power; and when they were successful in their great
work, they offered up their thanksgiving to God, to whom they
ascribed the honour of their success, viewing themselves as mere
inefficient instruments.'"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Did your remarks, Sir, elicit any reply?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"O no, Sir; I saw by their looks and their
significant movements that they regarded them as beneath their
notice, because they were the remarks of a layman. Infallibles will
not stoop to discussion; they merely dictate like an oracle, or
command like a despot."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir; our clergy who advocate high church
principles talk like Papal priests, and breathe the same spirit;
and, unless they can be checked, they will assimilate the Church
of England to the Church of Rome. Regeneration and absolution,
which the sacred writers ascribe to the grace of God, they pretend
to effect by their own delegated authority and power; and, as a
necessary consequence, they require the people to look to them as
holding the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And some few of the
order are gone so far on their way to Rome, that they require their
penitents to enter the confessional and make a full confession of
all their sins, before they perform the delusive act of absolution."

_Mr. Stevens._--"One should suppose that the Papal-like extravagance
of the Tractarian clergy would be so repugnant to the evangelical
clergy as to keep them at an infinite distance from all adhesion to
high church principles, and yet it has not this effect. They seem,
with rare exceptions, as much attached to these principles as the
priests are, whom they denounce as Papists in disguise. Hence they
will allow no church to be a true church of Christ but the Episcopal
Church of England, and no minister to be a true minister of Christ
unless he has been episcopally ordained."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, I regret to say these opinions
are becoming very popular, and the clergy of both orders are
endeavouring to impress them on the laity, and, I fear, with some
degree of success. Indeed, high church principles, which used to
be confined to the studies of the clergy, or merely lurked about
amongst a few grave thinkers of the monkish order, are now becoming
popular; they are finding their way into the light reading of
the day, in hymns, in tales, and in memoirs; the female sex is
captivated by them, and they are employing their powerful influence
in propagating them amongst the poor, in Sabbath-schools, in
workhouses, and wherever they can track the foot-treads of a human
being. The advocates of these principles are displaying an ardent
and an untiring zeal, a zeal worthy of a better cause. They employ
the same argument amongst all classes, and with an equal amount of
success; the intelligent and the sentimental, the uneducated and
the uncouth, are alike ensnared by it. Ours, they say, is the true
church, which Jesus Christ has purchased by his blood; enter and
keep in, and you will have nothing to fear at death or the day of
judgment."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"And this belief is rising in popularity, and is
becoming a national delusion. It is an instrument of great power in
the hands of our Tractarians, as well as in the hands of the priests
of Rome, and it is to the members of both churches a refuge of lies.
The infatuated Tractarians reason precisely on the same data as the
Papists, and arrive at the same deceptive conclusion--We are members
of the true church because we are members of the Church of England,
and therefore we are safe--as safe, they think, as the family of
Noah in the ark when the door was shut; and no argument, however
scriptural or powerful, can shake their confidence in the belief of
their safety."

_Mr. Stevens._--"Yes; and so inveterate is this belief amongst a
vast majority of the members of the Church of England, that they
will resent, as a personal insult, any reference to the possibility
of their labouring under a delusion. An intimate friend related to
me the following anecdote, which is illustrative of the facility of
self-deception when under the power of high church principles.--He
had been, in the early period of his life, a gay man of fashion,
but he was now become a new man in Christ Jesus; and he had been a
Churchman, but he was now a Dissenter. An old friend, with whom he
had lived on terms of very close intimacy when they were both gay
men of the world, came to reside in his neighbourhood, and he went
to see him. On his second visit he took an opportunity of referring
to the progress they were both making towards old age, and to the
importance of being prepared for an entrance into the eternal world.
His old friend abruptly terminated the subject of reference, by
saying, 'I am not disposed, Sir, to do as you have done--change my
religion. I am a member of the Church of England, as my father was
before me; and I mean to live and die in her communion. I offer no
opinion about what will become of schismatics; but we know that the
members of the true church will be saved; and such is the Church of
England.' Yet this man very seldom went to church. He was gay in his
old age--passionately fond of gay company and high living."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"This is the common cant apology which Churchmen
offer in defence of their utter neglect of the great salvation. I
had formed, some short time ago, a slight commercial intimacy with a
gentleman; and on one occasion I ventured to call his attention to
the solemn interrogation of Jesus Christ--'For what shall it profit
a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or
what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' (Mark viii. 36,
37). He replied, with an off-hand pleasantry, 'I am not disposed,
Sir, to change my religion.' He knew I was a Dissenter. 'Why, Sir,'
I remarked, 'I did not know that you had any religion to change,
for I heard you say, not long since, that you had not been inside
a church for several years.' 'True, Sir, but I am a member of the
Church of England, as my forefathers were as far back as we can
trace; and I shall live and die in her communion. You know, Sir (so
the apostle says), our Saviour has purchased the church, and He will
not let go any part of it; and therefore I am safe. Our rector, who
is a very learned man, preached a sermon on that subject the very
last time I heard him; and he satisfied me that I have nothing else
to do, to propitiate the Deity, than to keep within the pale of the
church.'"

_Mr. Stevens._--"Last winter I went to visit a very old woman,
whose grandson is my groom; she has attended (so she told me), all
her life long, the parish church in which the Rev. Mr. Cole does
duty. When I asked her if she thought she was prepared for death,
she replied _instanter_, 'Yes, I be, Sir. I keeps to my church.
There I was married, there I was confirmed, there I was christened,
and there I had the holy sacrament many times. There my husband is
buried, and my father and mother, and all the rest of them that
lived before them; and there I shall be buried when I dies. I ant
changed my religion, Sir. It has been in our family for upwards of
a hundred years. We have all kept to our church. The Lord rest our
souls.'"

_Mr. Lewellin._--"I suppose, Sir, you could not lead her into
another way of thinking?"

_Mr. Stevens._--"O no. Her unvarying note was, 'I keeps to my
church--my blessed church.' I offered to read a chapter of the
Bible, and pray with her; but she said she had taken the sacrament
and made her peace with God, and did not want to be troubled with
any fresh thing."

_Miss Roscoe._--"These are most melancholy tales. Why, it appears
that one great comprehensive scheme of delusion is extending its
fatal influence both over the clergy and the laity of our church.
One should suppose they look upon it as the very ark of God,
transferred from the Levitical to the Christian dispensation. They
make the church their saviour. I have recently had a most painful
confirmation of this. I opened an epistolary correspondence, a
few months since, with a young lady[23] with whom I formed an
intimacy when I was moving amidst the gay scenes of fashionable
life. She is both intelligent and accomplished, and of a most
amiable disposition. Having adverted to the attention I was giving
to the paramount claims of religion, I very delicately urged her
to consider them, as life is so uncertain; alluding, at the same
time, to give force to my remarks, to the death of Miss Denham, with
whom I knew she sometimes exchanged letters. The following is her
reply:--'I am delighted to hear that you are becoming religious.
Our Maker has enjoined it upon us. I resolved, when I had finished
my education, and before I made my _debut_ in fashionable life, to
become decided, and settle everything connected with religion, as
I knew that when I had done so I should be more at liberty to give
attention to other claims, and to derive gratification from other
pursuits. Indeed, I may say I acted on the old maxim, "Finish one
thing before you commence another." Therefore, having perfected
myself in the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Commandments, and the
Catechism, I passed through our curate's examination without any
difficulty; and, in the following week, I was confirmed by the
Bishop of London, along with several of my school-fellows. The next
Sunday I took the sacrament; and I have taken it three times since.
So you see, my dear friend, I am now a member of our pure apostolic
church; and I am resolved to live and die in her communion. I do
not think the Almighty can require anything more than this; and I
think, if we keep steady and faithful to our church, we are sure to
go to heaven when we die. I advise all my young friends to follow my
example; but, I am sorry to say, some are too frivolous and gay to
do so. It is too grave a subject for them.'"

  [23] Miss Rawlins, of London.

_Mr. Lewellin._--"It is appalling to listen to such tales as these;
and yet we are all familiar with them. What myriads of Churchmen
live, and die, and perish under this fatal delusion! What agony of
surprise, what intense anguish of soul, must they feel on entering
the world of spirits--on discovering the deception which has been
practised on them, and which they so fondly cherished. The Papal
and the Tractarian priests are the most successful agents which the
devil employs to ruin souls. What terrible mental encounters will
take place between them and their deluded victims when they meet
each other in hell--and meet they will!"

_Miss Roscoe._--"And how much is it to be deplored that the living
victims of this popular delusion are so deeply intrenched in their
superstitious belief, that the ordinary methods of conviction and
recovery cannot get at them? O these priests, who are preparing
their devotees for destruction! Pray, Sir," turning to the Rev. Mr.
Ingleby, "what judgment do these Tractarians entertain of the Church
of Scotland, which made such a noble stand for the faith against the
encroachments of the Papal power?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"O, they unchurch it."

_Miss Roscoe._--"And, of course, they are as unceremonious in their
treatment of the Dissenters?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, they treat all alike, except the Papal
Church, and that they admit to be a true church of Jesus Christ."

_Miss Roscoe._--"This does not surprise me. They revere and love
their parentage; this is a filial virtue. For this they are to be
commended. But do they consign all to a state of future misery who
do not belong to the Episcopal Church?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Why, my dear, there is a diversity of opinion
amongst them on this question. Some will take their belief to the
full stretch of the tether of consistency, and, without hesitation,
doom all to destruction who are not within the pale of their
communion. Others are a little more charitable; they admit the
bare possibility of their salvation, by assigning them over to the
_uncovenanted_ mercies of God."

_Miss Roscoe._--"And pray, Sir, what do they mean by the
uncovenanted mercies of God?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"They mean that God can save them, as he _can
save an infernal spirit_; but he gives them no promise of mercy on
which they can place any hope of salvation."

_Miss Roscoe._--"What opinion, Sir, do the evangelical clergy who
hold high church principles entertain on this question?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Why, all of them would rather see the people
within the pale of the church than on the outside, deeming it of the
two, the safest spiritual locality; yet I never knew an evangelical
clergyman express a doubt about the salvation of any one who
believes and trusts in Jesus Christ."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Are high church principles held by any very
considerable number of the evangelical clergy?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I regret to say that, in the best and the
most liberal, there is a strong leaning towards them; but the
majority, I believe, are not only their decided but their zealous
advocates. They know that the gospel they preach is preached with
equal purity, and sometimes with greater power, in the pulpits
of Dissenting churches and chapels; and hence, from motives of
policy, I apprehend, they endeavour to enlist the sympathies of the
lay members of the Establishment in favour of these principles,
to prevent the possibility of their withdrawing from it. To what
extent they succeed in imparting their spirit of exclusiveness and
bigoted attachment to Episcopacy, amongst the enlightened and the
pious laity, I have no means of judging; but I believe, from some
few indications I have seen, that in liberality of opinion, and
generous expressions of Christian feeling, these lay members of
the Establishment are at least half a century in advance of their
clergy. They were, a few years since, equally exclusive and bigoted,
but, from the concurrence of various causes, they have improved most
rapidly in the cultivation of charity and brotherly kindness--the
prominent graces of the Christian faith. They are acting now as
pioneers in the work of church reform, though that, I fear, is a
forlorn hope."

_Mr. Stevens._--"Then, Sir, we cannot calculate on any great
accessions from the clergy of the Church of England to the cause of
Christian union and fraternal fellowship, during the prevalence of
these high church principles."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"A few, who are ripening more rapidly than the
average of their brethren for a removal to a purer world, gladly
hail and accelerate the progress and the triumph of fraternal
union of all denominations amongst the people of God; but they
subject themselves to much obloquy and reproach, by overstepping
the broad line of ecclesiastical demarcation which is drawn by
these high church principles, to prevent any intermixing of the
different denominations, even in ordinary social intimacy. They are
marked men; deemed by their brethren ecclesiastical renegades, who
sacrifice clerical consistency to gratify their vanity."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"These high church principles, in their development
and practical working, militate very strongly against the Church of
England, and do more than any other cause to shake the confidence of
the laity in her Divine origin; they make her more like the gaudy,
intolerant, and exclusive Church of Rome, than the simple, meek, and
loving church of the New Testament. She has now officiating at her
altars a numerous tribe of Tractarian priests, who are subdivided
into two orders--one prepared to fraternize with Papal priests, the
other directly opposed to them--but both orders unite in denouncing
their evangelical brethren, and with as much severity as they
denounce Dissenters. The various tribes of infidelity watch the
virulence and the progress of this internal contest with intense
gratification, and its tendency is to increase their contempt for
the Bible and Christianity. We know that the church has in her
service a comparatively small number of clergymen who preach the
pure gospel of Jesus Christ; but, unhappily, with few exceptions,
even these are as much opposed to Dissenters as the Tractarian
clergy, and consequently it would be utopian to expect any rapid
progress in the cause of Christian unity and fraternal fellowship
while these high church principles continue in the ascendant. What
reaction may take place on the evangelical party from the tremendous
efforts of the Tractarians to assimilate the Church of England to
the Church of Rome, must be left to pure conjecture, but we may hope
that, in process of time, they will be brought to see and to feel
that the more nearly they are conformed in spirit, in temper, and in
disposition to _the_ LORD OF ALL, the more brilliant will be their
moral lustre, and the more powerful their ministry."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I should like to see the dove with the olive
branch make its appearance, betokening the abatement of the elements
of strife and contention; but I fear the day of its alighting on
our altars is far distant. However, let it be our aim and our
daily prayer to aid the progress of Christian union and fraternal
fellowship, and then we shall have this testimony, that we please
God our Saviour, and serve our generation according to his revealed
will."



THE CHURCHMAN'S LAMENT.


The Rev. Mr. Ingleby, when opening an evening discussion on a very
important question, gave it as his opinion that the judgment which
Robert Hall formed on the present aspect of the Papal movements, is
perfectly correct. He says--"It is certain that the members of the
Romish community are at this moment on the tiptoe of expectation,
indulging the most sanguine hopes, suggested by the temper of the
times, of soon recovering all that they have lost, and of seeing the
pretended rights of their church restored in their full splendour.
If anything can realize such an expectation, it is undoubtedly the
torpor and indifference of Protestants, combined with the incredible
zeal and activity of Papists; and universal observation shows what
these are capable of effecting--for often they compensate the
disadvantages arising from paucity of number, as well as almost
every kind of inequality."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"If, Sir, we were merely torpid and indifferent,
there would be less danger to apprehend; but the fact is, the high
church principles, which are now struggling amongst us for the
ascendency, are imperceptibly and very extensively reconciling the
clergy and many of the laity to the fatal errors of the Church of
Rome. It is, I believe, the opinion of most who have paid much
attention to the records of prophecy, that Popery, before her final
overthrow and extinction, will revive from her long torpid state,
will shake herself from the dust which has been accumulating around
her during her slumber of inaction, and come forth with new and more
vigorous life. I fear that a large number of our Episcopal clergy
are preparing the way, some few openly, but the greater proportion
of them secretly and slyly, for the triumphs of the Papacy in the
United Kingdom, especially amongst the Churchmen of England."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"That the Papacy does look with a longing eye on
Britain, the emporium of wealth and of the arts and the sciences,
and is with Jesuitical artifice concocting schemes for its recovery
to her own dominion, is now too palpable for any one to doubt; and
I believe, when she does come forth in some new forms of seductive
attraction, she will gain over many to her ranks, both of the clergy
and the laity of your church; but her efforts to beguile and subdue
Dissenters will be but the serpent biting at the file; our absolute
and exclusive authority in support and defence of our belief is the
Bible, and our watchword is, 'To the law and to the testimony: if
they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no
light in them'" (Isa. viii. 20).

[Illustration:

M. S. MORGAN.      T. BOLTON.

THE BRIDAL PARTY WELCOMED BY THE VILLAGERS.

Vol. ii page 456.]

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"And _our_ appeal, if we acted a consistent
part as sound Protestants, would be to the same authority; but many
of our clergy are not satisfied with this authority, but are for
calling in the fathers, and appealing to the decisions of councils,
and listening to the vague and often contradictory testimony of
unauthenticated tradition. They are unsettling Protestantism by the
attempts they are making in its defence."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"A high Churchman may say, and say truly, there
is but a step between me and Popery. And consistency has already
forced some of them to take this step; but I apprehend that many,
with the Pope in their hearts, will feel more disposed to sacrifice
consistency on the altar of self-interest, than publicly profess
allegiance to his authority. The entreaties and the tears of a
loving wife, especially when she pleads under the shade of a palace,
the mitre gracing the brow of her frail lord, or when standing on
the luxuriant soil of a rich benefice, will decide many a bishop,
and many a prebend, and many a rector, to prefer hypocrisy to
apostasy; they will content themselves by attempting to assimilate
the Church of England, as nearly as possible, to the corrupt
original from which she withdrew at the Reformation."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But some are so thoroughly honest, that they prefer
apostasy to hypocrisy. Some, even of the evangelical clergy, are
gone off to Rome, and many others, I fear, will follow them."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I have long apprehended and dreaded this, and
I have made many efforts to convince my clerical brethren of the
fatal tendency of their high church principles, but I have not been
very successful. No mathematical demonstration appears to me clearer
than this, that if the clergy will magnify the church, instead of
magnifying the Saviour; if they will confine salvation within the
pale of her communion, instead of proclaiming that whosoever calleth
on the name of the Lord shall be saved; if they will maintain that
no minister of the Christian faith is a true minister of Jesus
Christ, unless he has received episcopal ordination from a bishop in
the regular line of succession from the apostles, they will be led,
in the process of the inquiry, to see the palpable inconsistency of
having a secular power as the head of the church, and then there
is no alternative but to bow down and do homage to the Pope, as
the spiritual head of a church founded and upheld by his spiritual
authority. But so strong is the attachment they cherish to their
high church principles, that some say they cannot give them up, even
though such an issue should take place; and others are even sanguine
in their expectations of being able to effect a junction with Rome,
by inducing her to abandon some of her dogmas, and relax in some of
her absolute, and what they consider unimportant regulations."

_Mr. Stevens._--"I see dark omens in the heavens. A severe testing
time is coming. I believe we have amongst us many noble spirits, who
are valiant for the Protestant faith; but we have also a powerful
and subtile enemy in the field, and, I fear, many treacherous men
in our camp. A party of the clergy of our Protestant Church hailing
with delight a union with Papal Rome! How startling and humiliating!"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Many great and good laymen amongst us see the
tendency of these high church principles, and deeply deplore it,
yet but few of the clergy apprehend any real, or rather any very
alarming danger. Indeed, the leading men amongst them believe that
these principles are the only safe barrier of defence which can be
thrown around the Church of England, thus virtually admitting that
she is not established by Christ's authority, nor guarded by his
strong arm. I have often said to many of them, You act not only
impoliticly, but dangerously. You are professedly protecting your
church against Dissenters, from whom you have little or nothing to
fear; while by your manoeuvres you are moving nearer and nearer the
Romanists, who will ultimately seduce you to their fellowship, if
they do not gain actual possession of your church."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, I fear that evil times are coming. Many
of the best part of our clergy are tainted with the popular opinions
of the worst. They do not preach like our pious forefathers, urging
the people to repent and believe in Christ. They magnify the Church
of England at the perfection of ecclesiastical order and beauty,
and direct their vituperations against their fellow-Protestants
who differ from them on the comparatively unimportant questions of
Episcopacy and Episcopal ordination. The only points of importance
on which the evangelical clergy differ from their Tractarian
brethren, relate to the efficacy of the sacraments."

_Mr. Stevens._--"These high church principles have always prevailed
amongst some of our clergy; but they never gained such notoriety as
they have recently done. They were merely an undercurrent, but now
they are like the Jordan overflowing its banks. Daubeny's _Guide to
the Church_ made a little stir on its appearance, but it produced no
ferment in the popular mind. Mant's tracts on baptismal regeneration
made a more powerful impression; but it very soon subsided, and
things remained as they were. But the Oxford tracts have roused the
attention of Europe. They are shrewd, subtile, elegantly written
papers, which, by laying hold of the imagination, easily beguile
the heart; they are doing great execution amongst our sentimental
half-Popish Churchmen, and especially amongst silly women: written
professedly in defence of the Church of England, yet, as I once
heard a Catholic priest[24] say, nothing that ever issued from the
press has done so much to aid the triumphs of Popery."

  [24] Rev. Mr. Logan, a priest at Oscott College, near Birmingham.

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I have read most of these tracts, and I am fully
convinced, by the arguments and reasonings of the writers, that the
high church principles, which are becoming so popular amongst our
clergy and some of the laity, cannot be deduced from the Bible,
which contains the religion of Protestants."

_Mr. Stevens._--"From the Bible, Sir! no; they emanate from the
Prayer-book, that keepsake which Rome gave to Protestantism at
the time of the Reformation, with this inscription written in
hieroglyphics:--'Occupy till I come.' That book, Sir, is the
cause of all the Popery with which our church abounds. It is the
destroying angel of a pure Protestant faith."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"Ay, I have often told you that you were too
much attached to your Prayer-book. It is to many Churchmen not
only a domestic idol, but the idol of their temple: and now you
are suffering for your idolatrous attachment to a book which the
Jesuitical spirit of Rome induced your Reformers to take into
their worship, and indorse it as the guide of the faithful in all
future ages. To that book, which you admit to be an authority, the
Puseyites now appeal in support and defence of their Papal opinions
and customs, preferring its authority to the authority of the
Word of the Lord. They tell you, as the Papal priests tell their
devotees, that the Bible is an ambiguous book; that it ought not
to be put into circulation, except with notes and comments written
by some of their own order; that prophets, and apostles, and Jesus
Christ himself ought not to be trusted amongst the people, unless
some Tractarian professor or priest go with them to give the proper
interpretation to their equivocal teachings; but the PRAYER-BOOK,
in their estimation, is the living oracle, the Urim and Thummim
of a new theocracy, which utters the truth of inspiration in
unmistakeable language."

_Mr. Stevens._--"I went and heard the Rev. Mr. Farish, who left
his curacy a few months ago, preach his farewell sermon. He knew
that the clergyman who was appointed to succeed him, was one of the
most rabid Puseyites that Oxford ever sent forth. At the conclusion
of his discourse he said, as nearly as I can recollect, 'I have
preached to you Christ and him crucified; and I have told you again
and again that there is none other name under heaven given amongst
men whereby we must be saved. I have proved from Holy Writ that
salvation is of grace--free unmerited grace through faith--and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: "not of works, lest any
man should boast" (Eph. ii. 9). My successor is a clergyman of a
different school, and he will, I fear, dwell more on the ceremonies
of our faith than on its doctrines, and most likely he will give to
the sacraments a prominency to which you have not been accustomed.
But if the gospel should be excluded from the pulpit, as I fear it
will be, sorrow not, even as others who have no hope; you will hear
it from the desk. The great truths of the Bible may be perverted
and suppressed, but no sacrilegious hand will dare to mutilate or
withhold our Prayer-book. This ever liveth, and is unchangeable
amidst all the mutations of a mysterious Providence. You then,
brethren, will not forget that you are Churchmen, and you will still
cleave to the altar and the walls of your church; and wait till the
vision returns, which for a season is about to vanish away.'"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I have always protested against advising
people to attend their church when the gospel is banished from the
pulpit, and for this reason: it is the gospel of Christ which is the
power of God unto salvation, and not the Prayer-book. And experience
proves, that if there be no more gospel in a church than what the
Prayer-book announces, the people show no signs of spiritual life."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"This is diverting the attention of the people from
the Word of God, to the compositions of man--a most dangerous
experiment, fraught with great evil."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I think so. When we go to the Bible, and take
its lessons, believing what it teaches us, we are safe; but if we
admit any other book to become our authoritative teacher, then we
are in great danger. In that case we follow a fallible instead of an
infallible guide. Hence originate the discordant opinions which are
now disturbing the peace of our church."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, Sir, this is the root of the evil that exists
and is spreading amongst us. I certainly admire much of our Liturgy,
and think that the men who drew up some of the prayers, though
not inspired, in the sense in which apostles and prophets were
inspired, yet they must have been greatly assisted by the Spirit of
the Lord when composing them. But many parts of the Prayer-book are
very exceptionable, of which I was not conscious till lately. The
fantastical exhibition of the white-robed priest in the pulpit, and
wax candles burning on the altar at mid-day, or in readiness to be
lighted, have led me to examine the Prayer-book more attentively and
minutely, and I must confess that the closer I study it, the lower
it sinks in my esteem and confidence."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I have been attached to the church from
my youth, and I am still attached to it. But my attachment is
to its excellencies, not to its defects. I prefer Episcopacy
to Presbyterianism, or Independency; but the exterior form of
government is a matter of little moment, when compared with the
essential principles of the Christian faith. Forms may change,
as they have changed before, but Christianity itself undergoes
no change; the new and living way of access to a reconciled God
and Father in Christ Jesus, is the same yesterday, to-day, and
for ever--one Lord, one faith, one baptism, for all ages and all
countries."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"If we could have Episcopacy thoroughly relieved from
the excrescences which disfigure and defile it, and our Prayer-book
thoroughly purged from all its Papal sacraments and ceremonies, we
then should have, in my opinion, the faith embodied in an external
form of government and ritual, as near the perfection of the New
Testament as human wisdom could make it. I then should look on the
Church of England as one of the purest churches of the Reformation:
it then would be the temple of peace and order."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir, I should like to see this done; but
alas! it is what, I fear, the present temper of the times would not
tolerate--something to be desired, rather than expected--a utopian
calculation--the forlorn hope of ecclesiastical reformation."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"Reform the Prayer-book! Why, Sir, to touch
that antique book, grown gray in the service of the temple, and
around which there is such a clustering of tender and imaginative
associations--to obliterate a single sentence, or change a single
custom, or new-shape a single ceremony--would be, in the estimation
of the great majority of Churchmen, a crime as heinous as that of
Uzzah, who laid hold of the ark of God with unclean hands; and would
merit a similar doom. The proposal to do such a foul deed would
disturb the peace of every parish within the domain of Episcopacy;
would raise such lamentations as have never yet been heard by the
ear of living humanity; and compel many a grave old man, and many
a still graver old matron, to go and mourn apart from the general
community of grief. Reform the Prayer-book! that pure relic of
antiquity! What wild project next? If you take my Bible, O, spare me
my Prayer-book! would be the exclamation of many of the church-going
people of England."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I think, with you, Sir, that the current of
national prejudice in favour of the integrity of the Prayer-book is
at present too strong to be resisted; and all attempts to effect any
essential change in it will end in failure."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"It must be revised and reformed if we are to retain
our Protestantism."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"As Protestantism and the Prayer-book have lived
together in love for so many centuries, why not permit them to
live on to the end? especially as this close alliance has had both
the sanction and the support of the most distinguished of the
evangelical clergy."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Because the Prayer-book is now putting forth that
inherent Papal power which long lay dormant and unsuspected; and is
doing this, not to aid the spiritual triumphs of the glorious gospel
of Christ, but to sap the foundation of our Protestant faith; and
thus prepare the people to hail the return of the Papacy amongst
us. It is, if I may be allowed the use of such a figure, the decoy
duck of Popery, which we have been carefully preserving in the ark
of our faith, mistaking it for the gentle dove. Dr. Pusey, in his
letter to the Bishop of London, says: 'It is more than idle to talk,
as some have done, of putting down Tractarianism in order to check
secession to Rome. Such might drive hundreds from the church for
tens; but while that precious jewel, the Prayer-book, remains, they
cannot destroy or weaken Tractarianism. Tractarianism was entirely
the birth of the English Church. Its life must be consistent with
the formularies with which it is embodied.'"

_Mr. Stevens._--"But there is certainly a change coming over the
public mind respecting the Prayer-book. Some very stanch Churchmen
are for driving it out of our church, as the buyers and sellers were
driven out of the temple; but most are for purging it from its Papal
defilements and sacraments."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"I am aware that there is a slight movement amongst
a certain order of Churchmen in favour of a revision of your
Prayer-book, that it may be brought into a more perfect agreement
with the purity of the Christian faith; but how is it that so few of
the evangelical clergy take part in the present struggle? They seem,
so I judge from their inaction, as willing to let this stronghold of
Popery remain unscaled, as their Tractarian opponents."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Two reasons, I think, may be assigned for
their inaction, though, in my opinion, they are not very logical
or powerful. They love peace and quietness, and this restrains
them from taking any active part in the contest; and, in addition
to this, they are somewhat apprehensive that if the secular powers
interfere, they may decree a rejection of the old Prayer-book, and
the construction of a new one."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I would not give my sanction to such a decree.
No, Sir, we will retain our Prayer-book, but have it submitted
to a very severe purifying process. There must not be, as at the
Reformation, an attempt made to please both Papists and Protestants;
it must be made thoroughly Protestant, as it is designed for us;
and hence there must be a thorough purging out of the old leaven
of Popery, and nothing retained but what is in exact harmony with
the New Testament records. No rite, no ceremony, no institution, no
ecclesiastical law or regulation which does not originate in Divine
appointment."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"If this could be accomplished, and we
could have a Prayer-book whose articles and ceremonial rites and
institutes would exactly harmonize, as they ought to do, with the
integrity and the purity of the New Testament, then the Church of
England would become a great moral and spiritual power amongst us,
justly entitled to the admiration and the homage of the British
people, whose sympathies and affections would rally so closely
around her, that she need not stand in awe of the aristocracy of
Popery, nor be jealous of the democracy of Dissent, nor cherish the
slightest misgivings, when assailed by any class of infidels."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"I should very much like to see such a prayer-book
substituted for the half-Papal and half-Protestant one which you now
have; and if, Sir," addressing Mr. Roscoe, "you were nominated on a
commission appointed to revise it, what suppressions and alterations
would you propose?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I would begin with the Catechism."


THE CATECHISM.

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"A catechism should be a digest of the entire
theory of Divine truth, arranged in logical and systematic order,
every part should be stated in such definite and plain terms as to
be easily understood, especially by the young."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But our Catechism does not answer this description.
It contains no correct digest of biblical truth, nor is there
any order; it is defective on some points, and on others it is
erroneous--more in harmony with Papal than with Protestant belief.
It begins by advancing, in a categorical form, a delusive and a most
fatal error, which, as a necessary sequence, is made to run through
all the prominent ceremonies of our church, placing the Tractarians
on the vantage ground, who claim the honour of being more faithful
expositors of our national creed than their evangelical opponents.
In reply to the question about who gave the catechumen his name,
he is taught to say, 'My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism,
wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an
inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.'"

_Mr. Lewellin._--"These ecclesiastical officials can put in no claim
to a Divine origin or sanction; there is no allusion to godfathers
or godmothers in the Bible; they are an importation from Rome; and I
think it will be more to your honour to send them back, than retain
them in your service."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"What follows is equally, if not more
objectionable:--'_Question._--What did your godfathers and
godmothers then for you? _Answer._--They did promise and vow three
things in my name. First, that I should renounce the devil and all
his works, the pomp and vanity of this wicked world, and all the
sinful lusts of the flesh. Secondly, that I should believe all the
articles of the Christian faith. And thirdly, that I should keep
God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the
days of my life.' Thus the Church of England initiates the rising
generation into the belief of positive and dangerous error;[25]
substitutes absolute falsehood for Scripture truth, as no such moral
wonders[26] are performed when the rite of baptism is administered."

  [25] See page 320.

  [26] The writer of this article, in the year 1843, met a physician
  in Bath, and in the same year he met a solicitor in Banbury, who
  for many years ranked as members of the Church of England; but on
  examining the baptismal service in conjunction with this part of the
  Catechism, they felt such a strong repugnance against having their
  children baptized according to the prescribed formula, that they
  both preferred becoming Dissenters, rather than give their sanction
  to what they conscientiously believed to be a sinful, because
  antiscriptural ceremony, more fit for a Papal than a Protestant
  church.

_Mr. Lewellin._--"How any intelligent Protestant, with the fear of
God before his eyes, can conscientiously take upon himself such
a vow, that a child, who is born in sin and shapen in iniquity,
shall renounce all the sinful lusts of the flesh, and walk in God's
commandments all the days of his life, is to me inexplicable, unless
he looks upon the ceremony of baptism as a mere farce, and his vow
an idle, unmeaning utterance. However, one thing is certain; they
find it more easy to make the vow than to keep it; as the children
of the church turn out as gay, and dissipated, and sceptical, as
those who never had such a vow made in their behalf."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I can offer no arguments in defence of the
appointment of godfathers and godmothers; they certainly have no New
Testament origin or sanction. And if I were left to my own choice,
I would rather forego administering the rite of baptism to infants,
than I would tolerate such vows, when those who make them, and
those who hear them made, very well know that they have no power to
redeem them."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"As no human being can persuade or coerce another to
do these deeds of renunciation and submission, we must look upon the
whole ceremony as a purely Papal invention, admitted most censurably
within the pale of our church, and incorporated with her system of
ceremonial discipline and order. Hence I presume, Sir, you would
very willingly have these parts of our Catechism expunged?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Indeed, Sir, I should, and so would my
evangelical brethren. It is a sad evil which we groan under."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"The Tractarian clergy, in common with the
Papal priests, are resolute in their adherence to this baptismal
ceremony and its catechetical adjuncts; and they denounce their
evangelical opponents as unfit to officiate in the church, because
they impeach her authority to originate ecclesiastical ceremonies
which have no sanction from the New Testament. From these data I
draw the following conclusion:--the evangelical clergy are the
most consistent scripturalists, but the Tractarian are the most
consistent Churchmen; and while the former do homage to Divine
authority, the latter prefer rendering allegiance to human."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Your conclusion, Sir, is just; but it is a most
mortifying one, and I think we should do all in our power to get a
Catechism more in harmony with the New Testament and the Protestant
faith."


THE CONFIRMATION SERVICE.

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"It is maintained by many, that the rite of
confirmation which is administered by our bishops is a continuation
of apostolic practice, recorded in the Acts; but I prefer the
judgment which our own distinguished commentator, the Rev. T.
Scott, has given on this subject:--'The rite of confirmation, as
practised by many Christian churches, has often been, and still
is, spoken of as a continuation of the apostolical imposition of
hands for the confirmation of new converts, by the Holy Spirit
thus given to them. But it is far from evident that this was done
universally by the apostles, or by those who immediately succeeded
them. As, however, _miraculous powers_, rather than _sanctifying
grace_, were thus conferred, unless miraculous powers were _now_
connected with that rite, the parallel must wholly fail.[27] How far
something of this kind, properly regulated and conducted, may be
rendered subservient to the edification of young persons descended
from pious parents, and baptized when infants, is another question;
but to advance this observance into a _sacrament_, and even above
a sacrament (as it certainly is advanced when the _Holy Spirit is
supposed to be conferred by imposition of hands_, and by using words
in prayer like those of Peter and of John), puts the subject in a
very different light. Doubtless it was at first thus magnified in
order to _exalt the Episcopal order_, to whom the administration of
it was confined, as if they were intrusted with apostolic authority;
but as miracles are out of the question, so to follow the apostles
in faith, humility, diligence in preaching in season and out of
season, in piety, and self-denial, is the only scriptural mode of
magnifying either the Episcopal or the clerical office. Assuredly
as this matter (namely, the confirmation service) is very often
conducted, it must be allowed to be _an evil; and it ought either
to be attended to in another manner, or not at all_.' Change it, or
abolish it."

  [27] "After the intelligent reader has carefully examined the
  following references--Acts viii. 5-15; xix. 1-6--then let him look
  at a Puseyite confirmation, and I think the contrast cannot fail to
  strike his attention.

  "We have seen what took place in the days of the apostles, let
  us next see what takes place at a Puseyite confirmation. The
  unconscious infants of a nation are baptized; by such baptism they
  are professedly regenerated; they are made children of God, heirs of
  the kingdom of heaven. At this ordinance there are godfathers and
  godmothers undertaking solemn responsibilities; these parties are
  required to be present to witness the confirmation, and are taught
  to regard it as a loosening of them from their sacred bonds.

  "Now, we ask the Episcopal expositors to tell us where we are
  to look for godfathers or godmothers at the baptisms mentioned
  in the Acts? Where is the doctrine of the _regeneration_ of
  baptized infants in the Acts? Where is the doctrine of a Divine
  life begun in baptism and perfected in confirmation? What are the
  proofs of such regeneration as a qualification for confirmation?
  The only qualification prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer
  for confirmation by the bishop, is ability to repeat the Creed,
  the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Catechism. Of
  repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ there
  is not a word. Here, then, we have a generation of young persons
  on whom Episcopal hands are laid, and who are taught to believe
  that, in consequence of this act, they have received an influx of
  spiritual grace, implanting new, and invigorating old spiritual
  principles, and raising them at once to the stature of Christian
  manhood. Was there ever such delusion! How long will men of sense in
  the Established Church endure it!"--_Dr. Campbell._

_Mr. Stevens._--"I met the other day, in my casual reading, with
an honest confession from a leading Tractarian: 'It is true, the
actual word confirmation does not occur in the Bible _in that sense
in which we are now using it_,' which is a plain admission that
the rite, as administered by our bishops, differs from that act of
confirmation which the apostles performed. They confirmed believers
who were members of the church; that is, strengthened their faith,
by renewed evidences of its Divine origin, urging them at the same
time to continue in it, notwithstanding the persecutions they might
be exposed to, and on some occasions they conferred the miraculous
gifts of the Holy Ghost; but our modern bishops administer the
ceremony to young people who make no decided profession of personal
piety, and the observance of this ceremony, and not their piety, is
the ecclesiastical qualification for membership with the church over
which their jurisdiction extends."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"It appears to me, after a close investigation of
the subject, that confirmation, as administered by our bishops,
is based on the fatal error of baptismal regeneration, and is a
necessary sequence to it. Two objects are accomplished by it. In
the first place, it is a release to godfathers and godmothers from
the heavy responsibilities they took upon themselves, when they
gave the vow at the baptismal font that their godchild should
renounce all the sinful lusts of the flesh, &c.; and, in the second
place, the confirmed person becomes legally entitled to all the
privileges and immunities which the Church of England guarantees
to her members; and, at the same time, 'confirms and perfects,' as
Dr. Hook says, 'that which the grace of God's most Holy Spirit has
already begun in baptism.' Hence the prayer which the bishop offers
up before he administers the rite, is in exact agreement with this
statement:--'Almighty and everlasting God, who hast vouchsafed to
regenerate these thy servants by water and the Holy Ghost, and
hast given unto them the forgiveness of all their sins, strengthen
them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the Comforter,
and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace; the spirit
of wisdom and understanding; the spirit of counsel and ghostly
strength; the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them,
O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and for ever. Amen.'
After this prayer, then, follows the effective act of confirmation;
the bishop lays his hand on the head of every one kneeling before
him, repeating a short prayer; and it is by this imposition of
hands and prayer that the grace is conveyed which nourishes and
strengthens the inner spiritual life, which was infused at the
baptismal font; or, to quote what Dr. Hook says, 'it is to perfect
that which the grace of God's most Holy Spirit has already begun in
baptism.'"

_Mr. Lewellin._--"This certainly is a very ingenious arrangement,
to show out to public notice the importance of a duly authorized
priesthood, on whose official actions the spiritual life and safety
of Churchmen and their children are made to depend; but it is
ingenuity at the expense of truth and common sense. In the prayer
which precedes the ceremony of confirmation, the bishop asserts what
is not true--children are not regenerated at the font of baptism;
and yet it is asserted that they are. He does not pray that God
would be pleased to forgive them their sins; he merely tells God
that he has done it; and thus they are confirmed in the belief of a
most fatal delusion--a positive falsehood."

_Mr. Stevens._-"Unquestionably; every person who is confirmed, if
he have any faith in the integrity of the bishop, when engaged in
this act of public devotion, must believe two things; indeed, he
is compelled to believe them, unless he impeaches the piety of the
bishop; he must believe that he is regenerated, and consequently
needs no spiritual change of heart and mind; and he must believe
that all his past sins are forgiven, which renders it unnecessary
for him to pray for mercy on account of any bygone acts of
delinquency or--impiety. What a delusion!--a fatal delusion!"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"That no such moral effects result from this act of
confirmation, is very painfully demonstrated by the scenes which
often follow its performance. I went some time since, at the request
of a friend who, like myself, still cleaves to the church, while he
loathes many of her Papal ceremonies, to witness a confirmation,
and what immediately followed. Some on leaving the church appeared
to be seriously impressed; but the majority were as mirthful as if
returning from a fair; many resorted to the public-houses, and in
the evening they were seen reeling home in a state of intoxication;
and I afterwards heard of some who fell into grosser crimes."[28]

  [28] The writer of this paper once heard a young man say, when
  reeling out of a public-house, "Well, as I have the old score wiped
  away to-day by the bishop himself, I can afford to run up another
  short one."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"There is no denying the fact, that what often
follows a confirmation service is most revolting to Christian
feeling; tending to bring its administration into popular disrepute.
Hence, I can subscribe to the truth of a statement, and an
accompanying opinion, given by a clergyman of high distinction, in
his reply to some official interrogations. 'I do not pretend to
know,' he says, 'what may have been the effect of confirmation in
former times, but I have witnessed enough in our day to make me wish
to see it abolished. In some persons it creates a superstitious
trust in the efficacy of the mere ceremony; to others it is a grand
festival, a time to see and be seen; and too frequently ending in
folly, drunkenness, and every kind of vice. I have heard more than
one reclaimed drunkard, in giving an account of himself, date his
first act of intemperance, or first intoxication, to the day of his
confirmation; and on these accounts it is, to many, a subject of
ridicule and contempt, bringing discredit upon our holy religion....
For more than ten years my own desire has been, that in any measure
of church reform that may be adopted, the _ceremony_ of confirmation
may be entirely left out.'"


THE ORDINATION SERVICE.

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I was not aware, till very recently, that the
ordination service is so very objectionable in many of its parts,
especially to any one who is jealous of the Divine honour. When a
person presents himself to be admitted to the order of priesthood in
our church (and it matters not whether he be a gay man of fashion
or a devout servant of God), after replying to certain questions
proposed to him, and giving certain assurances, he is then required
to kneel in the presence of the bishop, who thus speaks in a
tone of authority, as though he had all power in heaven and on
earth:--'Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest
in the church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition
of our hands; whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven,
and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And be thou
a faithful dispenser of the Word of God and his holy sacraments,
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Amen.' Does it not savour of blasphemy to concede to any man an
authority to forgive sins?"

_Mr. Lewellin._--"I think it does, Sir, and very strongly. And are
you aware that the priests of the Church of England are invested
with a much higher degree of authority in this matter than any of
the priesthood of the Papal Church of Rome?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Not with a higher degree of authority! That I think
is impossible."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"Indeed, Sir, they are. Their delegated power is
made absolute, and it is unlimited; but the power of the Papal
priesthood is placed under very stringent restrictions. Thus, when
the Papal priest puts into requisition the exercise of his ghostly
power, in the remission of the sins of the dying Catholic, the
bye-laws of his church make a distinction, _and for very lucrative
reasons_, between venial and mortal sins; he is authorized to remit
venial sins, but he is powerless to remit mortal sin; and hence his
form of absolution runs as follows: '_And by virtue of authority
committed unto me, I absolve thee from thy sins, in the name of
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost_.' The Episcopal
Protestants' form of absolution runs thus: '_And by His authority,
committed unto me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost_.' The Papal
priest remits _some sins_; the Protestant priest absolves from
_all sins_; the Roman Catholic, after his priest has absolved him,
has to go and live for a season amidst purgatorial fires; but
as Protestantism has no purgatory, her devotee passes at once,
according to this Episcopal legend, into the kingdom of heaven,
after her priest has exercised his absolving power. The priest,
then, according to this absolution ceremony, saves from hell, and
gives a passport to heaven, by virtue of the delegated authority he
received from the bishop who ordained him."

_Mr. Stevens._--"This, certainly, is a too glaring usurpation of
the Divine prerogative of mercy on the part of the priesthood, to
be tolerated, especially by us Protestants. Away with it from our
Prayer-book, and send it back to Papal Rome, from whence it came. It
is both a sin and a disgrace to a Protestant community to tolerate
amongst them such a close conformity to the blasphemous usurpations
of the Papal Church."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I thought but little about it when I was
ordained, but I have thought much since, and I must admit that it is
most objectionable, so much so that I have made up my mind never to
attend another ordination service. The bishop assumes and professes
to convey a power which does not belong to man, and with which man
ought never to be intrusted."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"To invest a man with such power has a most dangerous
and servile tendency. If a priest really believes, as many of them
do, both Papal and Protestant, that he is actually endowed with
the authority which the bishop professes to delegate to him at his
ordination, must he not look upon himself as a great being, entitled
to great homage, having a disposing power over the final destiny of
the human spirit? will he not move about amongst his parishioners as
a demi-god in the human form?--whom he wills, he pardons and saves,
and whom he wills, he allows to perish. And if he makes the people
believe this, as the clergy are now attempting to do, will they not
stand more in awe of him, whom they see and hear, than they do of
God, who is invisible?"


THE BURIAL SERVICE.

_Mr. Stevens._--"I think some parts of this service require
revision, though, as a whole, I rather like it."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"As a service to be read at the interment of a devout
man, a believer in Jesus Christ, it is very appropriate; but it must
be a very painful infliction on a truly pious and conscientious
clergyman, to read the service at the interment of a very wicked
person."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir, it is indeed; and I make it a rule
to vary the forms of expression when I have such an office to
perform on such an occasion."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, Sir, I am aware you do; and though it is, I
believe, a trespass on the sanctity of canon law, yet I think no
conscientious person will blame you."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"On one occasion, some years since, when I made
this variation, a complaint was lodged against me by the relatives
of the deceased for so doing. The bishop sent for me; and when I
told him that the deceased was a very impure man, an avowed sceptic,
and one who died in the act of sinning against God, his lordship
said, 'I do not wonder at your scruples. I cannot blame you.' The
service is often most painfully trying to a conscientious clergyman,
not only on his own account, but on account of the wrong impressions
it often makes on those who attend at the funeral. We know that
_last_ impressions, like first impressions, are often very powerful;
they linger long on the heart and on the imagination; and hence,
when the survivors of a wicked man hear a clergyman thanking God for
taking the soul of the departed one to himself, they very naturally
withdraw from the scene of death, under a firm belief that, however
profligate he may have been in his life, and however agonizing his
dying mental pangs, he is just as well off in the eternal world as
he would be if he had lived a religious or virtuous life."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"It appears, from the tone and style of your
Prayer-book, that the persons, when receiving the mysterious
efficacy of your sacraments, are just as passive, in one sense, as
a piece of marble is under the chisel of the sculptor. They stand
still, as the block of marble stands still, doing nothing; they
may be dozing. The clergy, like the sculptor, do all that is to be
done, and the sacraments they administer are to take effect on these
passive beings by virtue of their inherent power, when properly
administered by a bishop, or a priest who has received Episcopal
ordination from a bishop, who is in the regular line of succession
from the apostles. Now this Tractarian theory is in direct
contradiction to the Word of God, which makes it obligatory on every
sinner to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling; to
believe and to trust in Christ that he may be saved; to receive
the truth in the love of it, which is to effect his spiritual
freedom; to yield himself to God as made alive from the dead;
to purify himself, and to walk in newness of life; and even the
first great action of Divine grace, in his renewal and renovation,
is _making him willing to do_ what is essential for his present
happiness and safety, and his final salvation. Thus, according to
the Scripture theory, the sacraments have no self-acting power, nor
have the agents who administer them any self-sufficient power; the
regenerating and sanctifying power is in the Lord alone, and to him,
and him alone, is a sinner indebted for his salvation, which is an
act of sovereign and unmerited grace." See Ephes. ii. 8, 9, 10.

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I deeply regret that we have in our
Prayer-book so many objectionable services and ceremonies, and
more especially as they bring us into so close a conformity with
the Papal Church of Rome. Any impartial person, who looks at the
two churches through the medium of these prominent services and
ceremonies, would pronounce us twin sisters, or ours a daughter
bearing a very strong resemblance to her mother; and it is only
by turning to our articles that we can point out any essential
difference between them. Our articles are Protestant and scriptural;
our ceremonies are derived from the Papacy, and are antiscriptural.
Hence we account for the existence of the two orders of clergy who
officiate at our altars--the evangelical and the Tractarian. We are
a kingdom divided against itself, and what the final issue of the
contest will be no human foresight can decide. You are for reforming
the Prayer-book by expunging that which savours so strongly of
the Papacy; and if this could be done, then Tractarianism would
disappear from amongst us, and we should hold the unity of the
faith in the bonds of peace. But who will undertake this herculean
labour? Will our clergy? They have no power, even if they had an
inclination. Will our bishops? No. They have gained the prize,
and are contented; they live in affluence and in ease, and care
but little about the strife and contentions which prevail amongst
their subordinates, with whom they hold but a very formal and
distant intercourse. The laity, at least the more enlightened, and
the pious, I know, are restless for a change; but I see not how
any change can be effected unless there be a breaking up of the
Establishment, for it to undergo a remodelling; and if such a great
crisis as this should come, there is no conjecturing, from the
present aspect of the times, whether the Prayer-book would receive a
more scriptural or a more Papal cast and complexion. We ought not to
forget that it is the civil power which appoints our bishops, sits
in judgment on the conflicting opinions which divide the clergy,
and rules the destiny of our church; and we know, from very painful
experience, that the civil power, whether embodied in a Whig or a
Tory administration, has uniformly evinced a stronger liking for
ceremonial pomp and display, than for the beautiful simplicity of
the church of the New Testament. Hence, I believe that reformation
is hopeless, as Cæsar disdains to admit the supremacy of Jesus of
Nazareth."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"That, Sir, is my decided opinion."

_Mr. Stevens._--"I am not sanguine in my hopes. The buyers and
sellers are again in the temple, but the Son of God is not now in
the form of the Son of man, or they would soon be driven out."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Then, Sir, Tractarianism will spread more widely
and rapidly amongst us, and if an open and a positive junction be
not formed between the Church of England and the Church of Rome,
there will be a tacit one; and the reign of ecclesiastical delusion
and despotism will be established in Britain; and the English, like
the Irish and the Italians, will be, at least to a certain extent, a
priest-ridden people."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"You should all do as I have done, and then you may
breathe freely and without fear, and laugh to scorn all attempts,
open or insidious, to beguile you to Rome. Our principles render us
invulnerable; yours, constitute your danger."

_Mr. Stevens._--"Mr. Lewellin means we should all turn Dissenters,
and acknowledge no legislative dictation or authority in matters of
religion but that of the New Testament."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"You have often rallied me on my Dissenting
principles, but the time is fast coming when the problem will
be solved, that dissent from human authority in matters of the
Christian faith is the only invincible barrier against the
encroachments of the Papal power."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I have no desire to forsake the church of my
fathers--the church of my early and long-cherished veneration and
attachment--but I will not remain in her communion if she form
an alliance with Papal Rome, or become semi-Papal herself. No!
I am a Protestant Christian, which is another designation for a
Bible Christian; the Bible is my infallible rule, which forbids
absolute yielding and subserviency to any human authority; and
if Protestantism be driven from the Church of England, or if she
gives that submission to priestly dictation which should be given
exclusively to the Word of the Lord, I will immediately leave her,
as I would leave my own mansion if I felt its foundation giving way,
preferring the woodside cottage as more safe, though less elegant
and imposing."



RIGHT AT LAST.


"I hope, Sir," said the venerable Mr. Ingleby to Mr. Roscoe, "you
were gratified by your late visit to your brother, now, I trust,
your son in the faith?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"I was more than gratified; I was both astonished
and delighted. There is a marvellous change in him, in his spirit
and habits, as well as in his theological opinions and style of
preaching. He stands in the centre of a large circle of his clerical
brethren, a living monument to the honour of the enlightening and
renewing grace of God."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"All such changes are both marvellous and
natural. The unrenewed part of the community, both the clergy and
the laity, look at them with some degree of amazement, regarding
them as strange and mystical phenomena; but we know that they
are the moral workmanship of the Spirit of God. They are also
living evidences of the Divine origin of Christianity, bearing the
same relation to it now, as the miracles of healing did on its
first promulgation. Their production requires a power which is
extra-human; but, notwithstanding this self-evident fact, different
persons will attribute them to very different causes, as they
did the undisputed miracles wrought by Jesus Christ. Some of the
Pharisees asserted that he performed them by a power derived from
the devil; others said, can a devil open the eyes of the blind? thus
implying the absolute impossibility of his doing such a benevolent
action. The same difference of opinion prevails amongst men, when
they try to account for these moral miracles. Some refer them to an
undefined fanaticism, or to a love of singularity, or to the power
of persuasion, or to the imbecility or partial derangement of the
intellectual faculty; and others ascribe them to the direct agency
of the Spirit of God, which, certainly, is assigning an adequate
cause, and the ONLY _adequate cause_ for their existence."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Surely no one who knew my brother before his
conversion, will accuse him of fanaticism, for a more doggedly stern
advocate in behalf of Tractarianism never undertook its defence and
support; and no one, I think, will venture to say that his intellect
has passed under an eclipse since his conversion. No, Sir; such
references would entail discredit on any one who would make them.
All must admit that he himself is competent to give evidence on the
fact and the cause of it; and he uniformly says, By the _grace of
God I am what I am_."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"As you refer to his style of preaching, I
presume he has resumed his pulpit labours?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, Sir, he has; and if my eyes had been closed,
and I had not known that he was in the pulpit, I should have thought
that I was listening to a preacher I had never heard before.
Formerly he was rather heavy, and there was a harsh monotonous tone
in his delivery--but now he speaks with great ease and fluency, and
with a pathetic earnestness which at times is thrilling. I have seen
some of his hearers affected to tears, who used to sit as unmoved
as stones. I was present when he delivered his first sermon, after
several months' absence from the pulpit; and as he had given notice
that he should assign the reasons which induced him to renounce
the Tractarian heresy and adopt the Evangelical faith, there was
an overflowing congregation. His text was a very appropriate one;
it was taken from 2 Tim. iii. 5: '_Having a form of godliness, but
denying the power thereof; from such turn away_.' From these words
of Paul he raised the following proposition, which he argued with
great accuracy and telling force:--'We should hold no Christian
fellowship with any order of ministers who unduly magnify the
form and ceremonies of Christianity, and who, either actually or
virtually, depreciate its doctrines and its precepts.'

"He concluded his discourse as follows:--'My dearly beloved
brethren, I have been labouring amongst you many years, but I
now publicly confess, with shame and confusion of face, that I
have been misleading you on the great question of your personal
salvation, simply because I have been living under the power of
self-delusion--advocating the form of godliness, while denying its
power. Like the priests of Rome, and like too many, alas! of our
own church, I have been teaching you to look for peace of mind
and for the hope of salvation to the efficacy of your baptism,
to the eucharist, and to priestly absolution; but, thanks to the
Divine Spirit, I now perceive that these are refuges of lies--the
inventions of a crafty and self-deluded priesthood--the fatal
quicksand of superstition, on which the people are perishing
in their sins, and are lost for ever. I now renounce these
Christ-dishonouring heresies, as opposed to the spirit and the
letter of the Bible, and embrace the truth which is embodied in the
simple and concise reply which the apostle Peter made to the members
of the Jewish council: "Neither is there salvation in any other:
for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby
we must be saved" (Acts iv. 12). In future, both by myself and my
excellent curate, the regenerating power of the Spirit of God will
be substituted for the regenerating power of water-baptism, and your
faith will be directed to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins
of the world, rather than to the officiating priest when exercising
his absolving power.

"'I fear that many of my parishioners have passed into the eternal
world under the influence of self-delusion, during the long period
in which I have been self-deceived; and this is to me a source of
bitter and agonizing sorrow. But, brethren, I have now resolved,
in the strength of the Lord, that none of the living shall perish
from the same cause, as, from this time forth, it is my intention to
preach the unsearchable riches of Christ--proclaiming him, in all my
ministrations, as an ever-living Saviour, able and willing to save
even the chief of sinners.

"'Christianity has been designated an experimental science, that is,
a science which may be submitted to the test of experience; and to
the truthfulness of this designation I can now bear my testimony.
The change which has taken place in my belief has been preceded
by a change of heart. While living under the fatal delusions of
Tractarianism, the Bible was to me a book of mysteries, but now
it is intelligible--it is the book of the heart. I now know what
it is to be born of the Spirit, to believe and trust in Christ,
to love and adore him, and also what it is to have joy and peace
in believing; and it is my earnest prayer that you, my beloved
brethren, may be made partakers of like precious faith, that we may
live and rejoice together in hope of the glory to be revealed in us
when our spiritual warfare is accomplished, and we are for ever at
rest. In conclusion, I would make the same request of you, which the
apostle made of the church of the Thessalonians: "Finally, brethren,
pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have _free_ course, and
be glorified, even as _it is_ with you" (2 Thess. iii. 1).'"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"How do the people appear to like this new
style of preaching?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Some are violently opposed to it, others express
no decided opinion, but I think the majority are pleased with it.
The Curate informed me that he has conversed with a few who have
recently felt the gospel to be the power of God to their salvation;
and, to aid their spiritual progress, a weekly prayer-meeting is
established, where I heard two laymen pray with great simplicity
and earnestness; and after the devotional part of the service was
concluded, the Curate delivered a short and an appropriate address,
which appeared to make a deep impression on this select audience.
He and my brother are very active, labouring in season and out of
season; they go from house to house, distributing tracts amongst the
people, conversing and praying with them; and, in addition to this,
they are training a lay agency to pay domiciliary visits to the
farm-houses and cottages that are scattered over the hamlet."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"That's one of the most useful plans which
a clergyman can adopt to extend his usefulness amongst the more
ignorant and debased of his parishioners, who will not come to
church unless some influence be employed to induce them. I recollect
a decent woman, the wife of a very rude and profane forester, was
persuaded, by one of my pious members, to come to church, soon
after I was inducted to the living; and it pleased God to convert
her, which so greatly enraged her husband, that he threatened to
kill her if she did not leave off coming; but she braved all his
menaces, and has been ever since one of my most constant hearers.
Happening one day to be near his cottage, I ventured to make a
call; he was eating his dinner; and as I passed him to take a seat
in the chimney-corner, he cast a sullen look at me, but spoke not
a word. After a few common-place observations, I referred in terms
of commendation to a fine plantation of fir and beech trees which I
had been admiring, and to the neatness of the quickset hedge which
encircled it, which so much gratified him that his dogged sternness
of look and manner relaxed into free and easy good humour, and he
became quite chatty, and asked me if I would take a glass of ale. I
thanked him for his hospitality, but said I preferred water to any
other beverage. He rose, took a jug from the dresser, and stepped
out as nimbly as he would step to wait on his master; his wife
expressing her astonishment at what she heard and saw. 'There, and
please your reverence, is a glass of pure spring water, as clear
as crystal, and about as cold as ice.' I sat some time longer, and
having accomplished my object by talking him into a good humour, I
arose to depart, shook hands with him, and left him, and I had the
pleasure of seeing him at church on the following Sabbath morning;
he is now one of the most pious, and, I may add, one of the most
polite members of my spiritual cure. We should imitate the example
of Jesus Christ, who came to _seek_, as well as to save them that
are lost."

_Miss Roscoe._--"I know him quite well. When riding by his cottage
last autumn, my horse plunged, and threw me, but providentially
there was no accident beyond the bursting of the girths of my
saddle, which he repaired with the dexterity of a proficient. Had
I been a duchess, and had he been a young nobleman, I am sure more
promptness and delicate kindness could not have been shown me;
and his wife was equally attentive and obliging. This occurrence
has led to a little intimacy, and I have since spent some happy
moments in his cottage; and I have seen the big tear fall on his
sun-burned face when we have been talking of the love of Christ. He
is more like the gentle lamb than the savage bear. He is fond of
reading; and, in addition to some historical works, and books on
horticulture, he has a copy of Henry's _Commentary on the Bible_,
Bunyan's _Pilgrim_, Scott's _Force of Truth_, Andrew Fuller's
_Gospel its own Witness_, and John Newton's Works. I don't think any
infidel would venture an attack on his faith."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I suppose, Sir, you heard the Curate preach?"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, several times. He has a sonorous and clear
voice, and his action when in the pulpit is good, because natural;
he excels most ministers I have heard in the ease and facility of
his style of address; he narrates an anecdote with great skill
and force of impression; his appeals to the conscience are very
close and searching; he dwells much on the love and compassion of
Jesus Christ for sinners ready to perish, and on his ability and
willingness to save them; but it is when he is warning them to flee
from the wrath to come--and sketching the dying of an impenitent
sinner, and his passing alone into the eternal world, to endure the
anguish and self-reproach which are consequent on being lost and
_doomed for ever_--that he evinces the most feeling, and discovers
the extent of his mental resources to supply him with novel imagery
of illustration, and terms of alarm and vivid description. Then it
is that the eyes of all the people are fastened on him; and at times
they seem to be awe-struck."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"The introduction of the gospel of the grace
of God into a parish, which has been long sitting in spiritual
darkness, is an event of immense importance; it is the beginning
of a new epoch in its history; it is the depositing of the mystic
leaven amongst the people, which effects wonderful changes and
transformations in their souls and social habits. I can supply out
of my own parish examples illustrative and confirmatory of what John
Foster says in his _Treatise on Popular Ignorance_. 'We cannot,' he
remarks, 'close this subject without adverting to a phenomenon as
admirable as, unhappily, it is rare, and for which the observers
may, if they choose, go round the whole circle of their philosophy,
and begin again, to find any adequate cause other than the most
immediate agency of the Almighty Spirit. Here and there an instance
occurs, to the delight of the Christian philanthropist, of a person
brought up in utter ignorance and barbarian rudeness, and so
continuing till late--sometimes very late in life--and then at last,
after such a length of time and habit has completed its petrifying
effect, suddenly seized upon by a mysterious power, and taken with
an irresistible force out of the dark hold in which the spirit has
lain imprisoned and torpid, into the sphere of thought and feeling.

"'We have known instances in which the change, the intellectual
change, has been so conspicuous within a brief space of time, that
an infidel observer must have forfeited all claim to be esteemed
even a man of sense, if he would not acknowledge--This that you call
Divine grace, whatever it may really be, is the strongest awakener
of the faculties after all. And, to a devout man, it is a spectacle
of most enchanting beauty, thus to see the immortal plant, which
has been under a malignant blast while sixty or seventy years have
passed over it, coming out at length in the bloom of life.'"

_Mr. Lewellin._--"Yes, and we are all living witnesses of the
amazing efficacy of Divine grace in effecting our spiritual
transformation, which, like that of the apostle Paul, has been
produced in us without any efforts of our own, or any anticipation
of such an unlikely thing being done. That it is a reality we
cannot doubt, because, in addition to the evidence arising from our
consciousness, we have the evidence of our senses. Now, suppose
by an action of our imagination we step back a few years in our
moral history, and re-assume our original characters, what a
contrast should we, in that case, exhibit to our present selves!
You, Sir, and your brother would move amongst us as two haughty
Tractarians, magnifying the form and ceremonies of Christianity,
and depreciating its doctrines and precepts. Mrs. Roscoe would be a
stereotyped formalist, sitting in her easy-chair, with her week's
preparation before her on her card-table, looking forward with some
undefined emotions of superstitious reverence to the sacrament
Sunday. Miss Roscoe would be moving, the principal figure in a
ball-room, exciting the envy or the jealousy of her gay associates.
My uncle and aunt would be living at Fairmount, the chief priest
and priestess in the temple of fashion; routs, and dances, and gala
nights--coursing-matches, and the prosecution of poachers, and
the gains and the losses of the turf, supplying the poor rustics
with topics for their table-talk. And, as for myself, I should be
prowling about the streets and resorts of London, with some profane
sceptics or accomplished gamesters, humming, in an under-tone of
grave or jocular levity--'_Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we
die_.' This is a sketch of what we should have been at this moment
if Divine grace had not come to impress on us another likeness, and
infuse within us another spirit. These moral changes in us are not
shams and delusions, but positive realities."

_Mrs. Roscoe._--"I should not like to become my former self again,
without religious thought, and without any religious emotions. I
lived without reflection or anticipation; and when any particular
circumstances compelled me to advert to the certainty of my death, I
felt an awful recoiling of spirit against it."

_Mr. Stevens._--"If our conversation were overheard by some of
our fashionable Christians, how strange would it appear to them!
They would imagine, if they did not know us, that we were a set of
incurables; and if they actually knew us, they would speak of us as
a group of fanatics."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"This reminds me of an admirable discourse I heard my
brother's Curate preach on the words of the apostle John: 'Beloved,
now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we
shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like
him; for we shall see him as he is' (1 John iii. 2). 'You are now
living,' he said, when addressing the pious part of his audience,
'in a world of sin and sorrow; and you are living in disguise, and
are not known to the persons amongst whom you live, and with whom
you are engaged in the commerce of life. They may know your person,
your name, your residence, your relative connections, and your
distinctive religious denomination, but they have no knowledge, or
even conception, of your elevated rank in relation to the wondrous
beings of the great unknown world. This should neither astonish
nor mortify you; for when Jesus Christ sojourned on earth, even
though he was the brightness of his Father's glory--even though
stormy winds and raging waves, disease, and death, and infernal
spirits acknowledged the absolute supremacy of his dominion over
them--yet the men of the world knew him not. They knew him as Jesus
of Nazareth, the son of the carpenter; they knew him as a madman,
an impostor, and a blasphemer; but they knew him not as the Son of
God in the human form, come to seek and to save them that are lost.
If, then, they knew him not who presented such luminous signs of his
celestial dignity and glory, how can you expect the world over to
look on you as the sons of God, living through the period of your
minority in disguise, soon to have your relative dignity chronicled
in the records of immortality?'"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"That passage proves that our identity is
preserved amidst all the changes we have undergone, or may yet
undergo--identically the same persons after our conversion as we
were before our conversion, though vastly different; and, in a
glorified state, we shall be identically the same persons we are
now, but then we shall be made exactly like the Son of God. Our
Lord, when administering consolation to Martha of Bethany, said:
'And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest
thou this?' (John xi. 26). There is nothing in this passage which
requires its restriction to the singular occasion of its utterance;
it announces an absolute fact, universally applicable to our Lord's
disciples. There may be a momentary suspension of life, attended
by a sudden yet momentary collapse of the self-conscious faculty,
when the great spirit is in the act of removing from her material
tabernacle, to enter the house not made with hands, eternal in the
heavens: but it is only the suspension, it is not the extinction of
life; and the self-conscious faculty will soon awake, and bear an
undisputed testimony to the personal identity of the soul. Yes, and
there is to me a sublime and thrilling interest in the belief, that
I shall be myself again when I awake in the Divine likeness, with
my own intellect, with my own imagination, with my own heart, and
with my own memory laden with its varied accumulations--identically
the same person, yet transformed into a pure and spotless being--and
that, after the lapse of millions of ages, I shall be identically
the same being I am now; the same being I was in the days of
childhood and of youth, of early and of later manhood; the same as
I was when living amidst the attractions of home and the charms of
more extended social intimacies; the same as when I was enduring
the privations and sorrows of earth, encountering its conflicts and
its trials; and the same as when I stood trembling on the narrow
isthmus of time, fearing to slip the cable of life, and launch into
eternity."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But while identity is preserved, we shall exist
in some new form, as we shall then be disembodied; shall _see_
ourselves and each other; and be endowed also with some new
faculties to fit us for our high destiny, its felicities and
employments."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"We shall, undoubtedly, be as fitted to engage in
all the exercises of the celestial world, and to intermingle, with
graceful ease, in all its varied associations and enjoyments, as we
should be if we had sprung up into being there, like the angels of
God. But yet I do not think it necessarily follows that we shall
have any new mental facilities communicated to us; the faculties
which we shall then require may even now be lying dormant in the
soul, waiting merely for the act of disembodiment to come forth in
full development and activity."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"That's an idea I have long entertained,
for experience proves that the spirit of man, even now, when it
makes its escape from the control of the senses, as in dreaming,
does occasionally give palpable indications of the possession of
faculties far more active and vigorous than is ordinarily displayed
when under their dominion; doing, in fact, when asleep, what cannot
be done when awake. I know an intelligent man, on whose testimony I
can place absolute dependence, who has told me more than once, that
though unable, when awake, to construct a stanza, yet, after reading
Milton, or Thomson, or Pope, he has when asleep composed poetical
pieces with great ease and rapidity. And I am quite sure that many
of the sermons I have preached when asleep have far surpassed
anything I could produce when awake. These facts, and I could
increase their number, are to me satisfactory indications that there
are latent faculties in embryo, lying dormant in the wondrous spirit
of man, which, when fully developed and brought into action (as they
will be when the spirit is disembodied), will be found admirably
adapted to the exercises of our future economy of existence. Without
requiring any new mental creation, we shall feel as much at ease and
at home in heaven as though we had never lived elsewhere."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Does the apostle, by this expression, '_When he
shall appear_,' refer to the appearance of Jesus Christ on the
morning of the general resurrection, preparatory to the final
judgment."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Some think he does, but I doubt it. When he
makes his grand appearance, preparatory to the final judgment, he
will be seen coming in the clouds, and all the holy angels with
him; and at the blast of the archangel's trumpet, the pious dead
will spring up into life, and, together with the pious who may
be living at this great crisis, will undergo a change in their
physical formation and appearance; the natural body will become a
spiritual body, bearing the image of the heavenly, as distinctly
as they bore, when living on earth, the image of the earthy. But
_this_ wonderful process of coming up into newness of life, issuing
in a physical transformation from a natural to a spiritual body,
is effected by the action of _p