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Title: The Sheepfold and the Common, Vol. II (of 2) - Within and Without
Author: East, Timothy
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: J. GODWIN.

W. L. THOMAS

THE FARM-HOUSE KITCHEN.

Vol. ii. page 286.]



THE SHEEPFOLD AND THE COMMON



[Illustration:

  the
  Sheepfold
  &
  THE COMMON,
  OR
  WITHIN & WITHOUT.

BLACKIE & SON · GLASGOW EDINBURGH, & LONDON.]



  THE

  SHEEPFOLD AND THE COMMON:

  OR,

  WITHIN AND WITHOUT.


  VOL. II.

  "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. 19.


[Illustration: publisher's mark]


  BLACKIE AND SON:
  GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND LONDON.

  MDCCCLXI.



  GLASGOW:
  W. G. BLACKIE AND CO., PRINTERS,
  VILLAFIELD.



CONTENTS.


VOL. II.

                                                   _Page_

  Old Rachel, the Blind Woman,                          1

  Diversity of Opinion Very Natural,                   18

  Union Without Compromise,                            37

  The Stage Coach,                                     52

  A Sabbath in London,                                 62

  The Sceptic's Visit,                                 76

  A Renewed Encounter,                                 94

  The Effect of a Word Spoken in Season,              108

  The Family of the Holmes,                           123

  A Misfortune often a Blessing in Disguise,          134

  Christian Experience,                               155

  Doubts and Perplexities,                            166

  Theatrical Amusements, Part I.,                     177

  Theatrical Amusements, Part II.,                    198

  Unitarianism Renounced,                             219

  The Path of Truth Forsaken,                         240

  The Fruits of Apostasy,                             261

  The Farm-House Kitchen,                             284

  A Party at the Elms,                                296

  Family Sketches,                                    311

  Amusements,                                         323

  The Unhappy Attachment,                             342

  A Sequel to the Foregoing,                          365

  The Village Chapel,                                 386

  Village Characters,                                 401

  The Pious Cottager,                                 422

  The Closing Scene of the Young Christian's Career,  431

  The Happy Marriage,                                 449

  An Old Friendship Revived,                          462

  The Wanderer's Return,                              474

  A Struggle for Life,                                493

  The Sceptic Reclaimed,                              504

  The Rector's Death-Bed,                             518

  The Rector's Funeral,                               529

  The New Rectors,                                    540

  A Secession at Broadhurst,                          551

  A Farewell to Old Friends,                          561

  Conclusion,                                         575



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

VOL. II.


                                                                    _Page_

  The Farm-House Kitchen,                                  _Frontispiece._

  A Contrast,                                            _Engraved Title._

  George III. and the Dying Gipsy,                                       7

  Mistaken Charity--Mr. Sykes's Theory Refuted,                         55

  Sabbath Pleasure-Seekers,                                             64

  The Conspiracy Defeated,                                             128

  The Mother's Hopes Blasted,                                          179

  Mr. Beaufoy's Emotion on receiving his Mother's Letter,              261

  Bringing in the Last Load of Corn--The Reapers' Hymn of Praise,      285

  Miss Holmes and Miss Martin taking leave of Mrs. Kent,               299

  First Meeting of Captain Orme and Emma Holmes,                       352

  Mr. Swinson assaulted by the Mob,                                    396

  The Bridal Party welcomed by the Villagers,                          456

  The Wanderer's Return,                                               480



THE SHEEPFOLD AND THE COMMON.

OLD RACHEL, THE BLIND WOMAN.


"And so I hear," said Mrs. Stevens to the Rector, when we were
spending an evening at his house, "that poor Old Rachel is dead. I
really thought she had died long since, as I have not heard anything
about her for a long time."

"Yes, Madam," replied Mr. Ingleby, "she is dead, and was buried
yesterday; she lies very near some of the finest of my flock."

"She must have lived to a great age, for she was an old woman when I
was but a little girl."

"She was, I believe, upwards of ninety, and for several years she
lived with some relatives in a state of almost entire seclusion.
I had quite lost sight of her, and it was owing to a very casual
circumstance that my acquaintance with her was renewed."

"How did you happen again to meet with her?"

"It was in this way. I required some one to weed my garden; and
hearing that there was an active clever woman residing at Street,
about two miles from the rectory, who was a good hand at such
work, I took a walk to find her. On reaching her house I knocked
at the door, but received no answer; and just as I was going away,
rather disappointed at having made a fruitless journey, a neighbour
stepped out of the adjoining cottage, and said, 'If, Sir, you
want Mrs. Jones, she has just gone out, but I will go and look for
her, if you will perhaps come in here, and rest yourself for a few
minutes.' I thanked her, and followed her into the house, where she
placed a chair for me, saying, as she left to go in search of Mrs.
Jones--'It's no use, Sir, to say nothing to my mother there; she is
quite blind, and so deaf, that she can't hear a word which nobody
says to her.' The person to whom she pointed sat in an arm-chair,
on the opposite side of the fire, wrapped up in flannel, her face
nearly concealed by her cap and bonnet, and as motionless as a
statue. I sat for a few moments in silence, and then, yielding to
a feeling of curiosity, and I would also hope to a better motive,
to endeavour to ascertain whether I could impart the soothing
influences of religious consolation to the seemingly inanimate
object that sat opposite to me, I arose, and placing my lips as
near her ear as possible, without touching her, said, audibly and
distinctly, 'You are very old.' No reply. This was followed by
several common-place questions--such as, 'What is your name?' 'Do
you want anything?' 'Are you in any pain?' These and other questions
I continued to repeat; but they produced no more effect on her than
they would have done on a log. 'Poor thing,' I exclaimed, 'it's no
use to try, as she is living out of my reach. The door of access
is locked, and the key lost.' I resumed my seat. My anxiety to
gain access to her mind increased in proportion to the apparent
impossibility of succeeding, and I made another effort. '_Do you
ever think about dying?_' There was a slight convulsive movement
of the hand, but this was no satisfactory proof that she heard
my question; however, it showed that the inner spirit was awake,
and might possibly be bringing itself to a listening attitude. I
then put the all-important question--'_Do you know anything about
Jesus Christ?_' Never shall I forget the effect of this question.
Her hands were suddenly raised, her arms extended, and her face
glowed with more than human radiance, and, in a tone of transport,
she exclaimed, 'What! is that my beloved pastor? It was under your
ministry I was brought to know Christ, and feel the preciousness of
his love.' This unanticipated exclamation astonished and delighted
me, especially when I recognized, by the sound of her voice, _Old
Rachel_. To all my questions relating to her secular condition and
wants, she was as insensible as though actually dead. I stood and
looked on her with joyous wonder, never having previously known
a similar case. I repeated question after question, but had no
response, till I asked, '_Is Christ precious to you?_' Her reply
was prompt and audible: _He is precious to my soul--my transport
and my trust._' The reply had an electrical effect on my spirit.
Marvellous! I never witnessed such a scene as this. I varied my
questions again and again; but there was no sign of hearing, or even
perceptible motion, though I took hold of her hand. It was as though
some angelic spirit kept watch, to prevent any thought relating
to earth or time from obtruding itself on her attention, now she
was waiting on the verge of the celestial world. One question
more, and all intercourse was over. '_Do you long to see Christ?_'
She instantly replied, '_My soul is in haste to be gone._' Again
she relapsed into her statue-like appearance, and in that state
continued till the return of her daughter with Mrs. Jones, after
transacting my business with whom, I took leave, and walked home,
musing on the history of Old Rachel, and resolving that I would soon
again pay her a visit."

"I should like," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "to have witnessed this
scene, and heard the retiring spirit thus appearing to bear
testimony to the more than magic power of the Saviour's name, and of
the preciousness of his love."

"And so, Madam, should I," said the Rev. Mr. Guion; "it would have
been to me like a voice speaking from another world, in confirmation
of the genuineness of our faith, which sees the invisible, and holds
conscious intercourse with Him, though we hear him not. I generally
find, that a singular ending is closely connected with a singular
origin, or a series of eventful occurrences. Can you favour us with
some account of her history?"

"Yes, Sir, I can, and it is both interesting and peculiar. I did not
know her till she was advanced in age, and had lost her sight; yet,
before I knew her, I had often heard her spoken of as an intelligent
woman, very fond of books, and remarkable for the neatness and
cleanliness of her person, and her regular and punctual attendance
at her parish church. When her sight failed her, she was compelled
to relinquish the school by which she had gained her livelihood; but
she was so much esteemed, that a good allowance was granted by the
parish, and this was augmented by weekly subscriptions from some
of the members of her church. On passing by her cottage one day, I
looked in to see her, though she was not one of my parishioners;
but as she had imbibed the Tractarian doctrines of her Rector, and
felt a strong repugnance to evangelical truth, I at once perceived
that my presence was more disagreeable than pleasing. I therefore
withdrew, not intending to repeat my visit until I had prepared her
to desire it. I soon hit upon a plan to accomplish this. The old
woman had a little favourite grand-daughter in my Sabbath-school,
and it occurred to me that I could employ her as the medium of
communication; and I commenced operations by giving her and lending
her some little books of anecdotes and descriptive stories. After
the lapse of several months, I gave her, as a reward for reading to
her grandmother, the sketch of the Rev. John Newton's conversion;
and this was followed by a tract on regeneration, with which the old
woman was so much pleased, that she requested the loan of another
on the same subject. No great while after reading this tract she
came to hear me preach, and soon became a regular attendant on my
ministry; and ere long she sent to say she should be glad if I would
call on her. I went; she apologized for her rudeness of manner on
my former visit, and excused herself by referring to the influence
which superstitious prejudices had acquired over her. From these
superstitions she hoped she was now rescued by the attractive power
of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"When it was noised abroad that Rachel, the old blind woman, had
left the church, where Tractarian doctrines and ceremonies were the
theme of the Rector's ministrations, she received a visit from some
of her lady friends, who were very anxious to get her to return,
intimating that if she did, they would continue their subscriptions
towards her support, otherwise she must not expect to receive any
more favours from them. She heard all they chose to say, and thus
announced her final decision:--'I have, ladies, attended my parish
church for more than fifty years without getting any benefit to my
soul, but where I have been only a few Sabbaths I have heard and
felt the truth as it is in Jesus, and there I shall continue to go
as long as my feeble limbs will carry me. I thank you for all your
acts of liberality and kindness to me, but I cannot barter away
my freedom, and run the risk of losing my soul. I must live free,
though in poverty; and my salvation is now the one thing I value
above all price.' She continued for several years both regular
and punctual in her attendance on my ministry, but at length was
compelled, by increasing infirmities, to give up her house and go to
reside with a married daughter. Years rolled on--the grand-daughter
had left my school--the cottage where the old woman had resided was
occupied by another--she gradually faded from my recollection, and
in process of time I had quite forgot her."

"I used," said Mrs. Stevens, "to see her, with her grand-daughter
leading her, coming to church and going from it; but she sat in some
pew which concealed her from my sight when in the church."

"She was, Madam, one of the most retiring women I ever knew; she had
a great objection to be seen, as she knew her conversion and her
leaving the ministry of her former Rector had excited a good deal of
talk."

"The circumstances attending her conversion to the faith of
Christ," observed the Rev. Mr. Guion, "is an evident proof of its
genuineness, and of its having been effected by the Holy Spirit;
otherwise it would have been impossible for you to have gained her
over to the reception of salvation by grace through faith, as she
was so self-satisfied with her own Tractarian delusions, and so much
under the power of the active agents of the same fatal heresy."

"I must confess that no event in my long pastoral career ever gave
me more real pleasure, or excited purer emotions of gratitude to my
Divine Master, than being allowed to witness the termination of her
course--so unexpected, and so novel."

"I have known," said the Rev. Mr. Guion, "some delivered from their
terrors and misgivings, just prior to their departure, who have been
in bondage all their life, through fear of death, and then they have
felt even a transport of joy in anticipation of the end of their
faith, but I have never known a case like this of Old Rachel."

"I recollect," said Mr. Roscoe, "reading in the _Times_, some
years ago, the report of a case bearing a strong resemblance to
it in some of its distinctive peculiarities. Mr. M----, of -----,
who had through a very lengthened course distinguished himself by
his activity in secular life, and by his practical piety, when
drawing near his latter end, appeared quite indifferent, if not
positively insensible, to everything bearing a relation to earth,
though surrounded by its wealth and honours; but even then he gave
unmistakeable signs to his pious relatives, that he was filled with
all joy and peace in believing, abounding in hope, through the power
of the Holy Ghost."[1]

  [1] In reply to an application which the author recently made in
  reference to this case, an intelligent son of this eminent Christian
  requests that the name of the deceased may be suppressed, saying,
  at the close of his letter--"The prayer of my dearest father was,
  God be merciful to me a sinner! and his last word, the name of that
  Redeemer on whose merits he relied, and to whose honour he had
  lived."

Mr. Lewellin remarked:--"An intimate friend related to me, some
time since, the following circumstances, which belong to the same
remarkable order with that of Old Rachel and Mr. M----. He knew
a Mr. Griffith, who left Wales when a young man, and settled in
London, where he practised as a surgeon for half a century with very
considerable success; but feeling the infirmities of age coming on,
he disposed of his business and withdrew into private life. From
his youth up he had maintained a good report amongst his Christian
brethren. He lived for years after he had relinquished his practice,
but latterly fell into such a state of apathy that he was unable
to recollect his own children, and had even forgotten the English
language, which he had spoken for more than fifty years, using,
in his Scripture quotations and audible prayers, his native Welsh.
He would remain for many hours in succession without appearing
to notice any visible object, asking any question, or replying
to any observation relating to secular matters. He had withdrawn
from the world, living surrounded with invisible realities, the
varying aspect of his countenance indicating some active process of
thinking and emotion; but when he heard the name of Jesus mentioned,
or any allusion to his love in dying for sinners, his eyes would
sparkle with peculiar radiance, his hands would clasp together,
and he would pour forth expressions of gratitude and joy, which
betokened the vital energy of his soul, and the intense interest he
felt in anticipation of the grand crisis. On his favourite theme
of meditation he evinced no dulness, nor lack of mental energy; he
would emerge from his seclusion to hold intelligible intercourse
with his Christian brethren, when he heard them give utterance
to the joyful sound, and then drew back, without any distinct
recognition of their persons, to dwell alone in the pavilion of the
Divine presence."[2]

  [2] The following anecdote of George III. (from _Legends and
  Records_, chiefly Historical: by Charles Tayler, M.A.), supplies
  us with another interesting case of the aptitude of the mind to
  understand and feel the power of religious truth, after it has
  become inaccessible to every other mental communication. His majesty
  had been hunting in Windsor Forest, and after the hunt was over, as
  he was returning, his attention was arrested by a little girl who
  sat on the ground weeping. He alighted from his horse, and, having
  ascertained the cause of her grief, he followed her to a tent, in an
  unfrequented part of the forest, where lay an old gipsy on her dying
  bed, with her face towards the inside of the tent. She appeared
  too far gone to hear any of the sympathetic inquiries which he
  instituted. However, his eye was attracted by a torn and dirty book,
  which lay open upon the pillow of the dying woman, and he had the
  curiosity to see what book it was.

  "Ah, Sir," said an elder girl, "I believe there's a deal of fine
  reading in that book; and my grandmother set great store by it, torn
  and soiled as it is. While she could use her eyes she used to be
  spelling it over and over again; but now, she says, the letters are
  all dark and dim before her sight, she cannot see them."

  His majesty said nothing, but, taking up the book from the pillow,
  he sat down on the green turf close to the head of the dying woman.
  The book was the Bible. He chose some of those beautiful passages
  which are easy to be understood, and, at the same time, full of
  hope and comfort to the sinking and fearful heart. He read of the
  tender compassion of the Father of mercies to his guilty creatures,
  in giving his own Son Jesus Christ to die for them, that whosoever
  believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life!
  Though she heard not what he said when he first spoke to her, she
  heard and felt the words of the Scriptures, for she turned entirely
  round and opened her dull eyes with a vacant stare; she endeavoured
  also to speak, but could only make a faint uncertain sound, in which
  no word could be distinguished. Then she drew her hands together,
  and clasped them as if in prayer, taking that way, it seemed, to
  show that she was quite sensible to hear and understand what was
  read to her; and the young girls drew near, and kneeled down quietly
  beside the bed, listening also to the sacred words of life, and
  feeling a sort of happiness in their sorrow, as they looked upon
  their beloved parent, now as calm as a sleeping infant, except that
  tears stole down her hollow cheeks; but any one might see that they
  were tears of joy, for all the while a smile was on her lips.

"These are spiritual phenomena," said the Rev. Mr. Roscoe, "which,
like the phenomena of nature, are too plain and palpable to be
denied, even though it may not be in our power to give all the
explanations about the causes of them which our curiosity would like
to receive."

[Illustration: JAMES GODWIN. W. L. THOMAS.

GEORGE III. AND THE DYING GIPSY.

Vol. ii. p. 7.]

"Very true, Sir," said Mr. Ingleby; "but there are certain
statements and expressions in the New Testament which throw light
enough upon such phenomena to demonstrate that they have their
_natural causes_, and thus they are rescued from the supposition
that they are self-originated and self-sustained movements of
the human spirit, in some complexed and eccentric condition of
existence. Our Lord says to his disciples, 'I am the vine, ye are
the branches; he that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth
forth much fruit' (John xv. 5). The life of the branch depends on
its adhesion to the tree which supplies the sap of nourishment.
Again, he says, 'I in them' (John xvii. 23). The apostle says, 'I
live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me' (Gal. ii. 20). Again,
'Your life is hid with Christ in God' (Col. iii. 3), denoting
its invulnerable security. From the passages which I have now
quoted, and there are many others of the same import, we arrive
at this conclusion, which is an explanation and a defence of the
spiritual phenomenon, that there is an actual, though inexplicable
inhabitation of Jesus Christ in the soul of a believer (Rev.
iii. 20), sustaining the spiritual life within him, as the vine
nourishes the branch which bears its own fruit. And as He has life
in _himself_, he can do this with perfect ease, not only when the
believer is in vigorous health, and in the full exercise of all his
mental faculties, but when he is labouring under those physical
diseases and mental infirmities which, by a slow progression, lead
to his decay and death."

The Rev. Mr. Guion observed, "That to deny the existence of such
phenomena, and others which bear some affinity to them, simply
because they are extraordinary, would be an act of absurdity which
no spiritual or even philosophic mind would venture to defend,
because the evidence in proof of their actual occurrence is so clear
and conclusive. The real question of difficulty to decide is simply
this:--Are they supernatural manifestations, or illusions of the
imagination? but, in either case, they go off into their own element
of mysteriousness, compelling us to believe what we cannot explain.
On a supposition that they are real manifestations of Divine power
and love, which I fully believe they are, I cannot help thinking
that the highly-favoured spirit (Old Rachel, for example), while in
such a state of _lucid and active unconsciousness_, if I may use
such an expression, must exist in something like an intermediate
position between the material and immaterial world--dying off from
one by a very slow progression, and getting meet for the other by a
similar process; occasionally stepping back to give unmistakeable
signs of the continued possession of the faculties of thought and
emotion, and then retreating, as into a citadel standing near the
dark frontier of the invisible world, and into which its celestial
rays sometimes penetrate."

"In these cases of rare occurrence," said Mr. Roscoe, "it is the
soul of the spiritual man retreating from visible and audible
fellowship with his pious associates; but biography supplies us
_with another order of moral phenomena_ equally inexplicable, yet
equally gratifying, tending to confirm the reality of the connection
between the visible and invisible world which the Christian
revelation so plainly and positively announces. I received, some
time ago, the following statement from an elder of a Scotch church,
on whose testimony I can place implicit dependence:--'About the
month of August, 1838, I went to see my grandfather, a pious old
man, ninety-two years of age. I sat by his bedside, and others
also were with him. He had been silent and motionless for about
five hours, when he opened his eyes, his countenance beaming with
joy, and raising his hands he said, I see heaven open, and Jesus
Christ at the right hand of God, and the angels of God descending
to receive me. These were his last words, and when he had given
utterance to them he expired.'"

"This reminds me," said Mr. Lewellin, "of an incident which occurred
at Stepney College,[3] not long ago. When Ebenezer Birrel, a student
there, was dying, he requested all who were in the room with him to
keep silence. He also was silent and motionless. At length he looked
and gazed in rapture on some glorious object, which to him alone was
visible, exclaiming, as he gazed, '_Beautiful! beautiful!_' and in
uttering the word 'GLORY!' his head fell and he expired."

  [3] The Baptist College, Stepney.

"The case of Dr. Gordon, of Hull," said the Rev. Mr. Guion,
"differing, as it does in some particulars, from all the specimens
we have had of these spiritual phenomena, is, I think, deserving of
our special notice. 'He appeared,' says his biographer, 'just as he
was expiring, no longer conscious of what took place around him.
He gazed upwards, as in wrapt vision. No film overspread his eyes.
They beamed with an unwonted lustre, and the whole countenance,
losing the aspect of disease and pain, with which we had been so
long familiar, glowed with an expression of indescribable rapture.
As we watched, in silent wonder and praise, his features, which had
become motionless, suddenly yielded for a few seconds to a smile
of ecstasy which no pencil could ever depict, and which none who
witnessed it can ever forget. And when it passed away, still the
whole countenance continued to beam and brighten, as if reflecting
the glory on which the soul was gazing. This glorious spectacle
continued for about a quarter of an hour, increasing in interest to
the last.'"

"I have heard of other cases," remarked Mr. Ingleby, "bearing a
strong resemblance to some which have been mentioned; but I have
never made much use of them, except as supplementary proofs in
confirmation of my own belief in the inseparable connection of
the two worlds. They are not absolutely necessary to establish
this great fact; yet we must all admit, that such proofs _can be
supplied_, if it should please God to do so; and we know he has done
it more than once. Not to dwell on the vision of the apostle Paul,
I would just advert to the case of Stephen. When his enemies were
gnashing on him with their teeth, expressive of their indignation
against him, for accusing them of having betrayed and murdered the
JUST ONE--'He, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly
into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on
the right hand of God' (Acts vii. 55). He saw clearly what the
others saw not, and for reporting what he saw he was denounced a
blasphemer, and was led out and stoned to death. This case settles
two great facts:--First, that God can, when he pleases, unveil to
mortal vision the glorious forms and appearances of the invisible
world; and secondly, that he has done it."

"I feel unwilling," said the Rev. Mr. Roscoe, "to object to any
evidence which tends to confirm our belief in the connection
between the visible and invisible world; but I think great caution
is necessary in employing such cases as have now been reported in
proof of it. What the old Scotchman and the youthful student saw, or
thought they saw, may, after all, have been nothing more than the
illusions of their own disturbed imagination, left at the closing
scene uncontrolled by the immortal spirit itself, while in the act
of passing from its material tabernacle, and away from its material
senses, into another, a higher, and more congenial economy of
existence."

"True, Sir," said Mr. Ingleby; "but then, if we admit that they
really are illusions, we must also admit that they are illusive
only by a _forestalling process_; the imagination bringing to
the senses, yet bounded by the material economy, objects of
vision belonging to another state of existence--framing types of
invisible realities--lifting up, in the living temple of humanity,
prefigurations of what will be seen when the fulness of time comes
for the disembodying of the soul and its glorification. The illusion
then relates, not to the UNREALITY of _what is seen_ and _felt_, but
to the _unreality_ of the _act_ of _vision_, and its _consequent
excitement_ and _impression, both mental and physical_."

"We know," said. Mr. Roscoe, "that God very rarely deviates in
his providential administration, from the established laws of his
government; but we also know that he does sometimes, and for the
purpose of making us know more impressively that he is the LORD,
who exercises loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the
earth, for in these things he delights. Hence, there have been
two translations from earth to heaven, without the intervening
infliction of death, but only two, since the fall of man. In
reference to the remarkable cases under consideration, there may be
some difficulty in deciding whether the persons actually saw what
they are reported to have seen, or were imposed on by the mysterious
action of their own imagination; but yet I cannot bring my mind to
the conclusion, that the visions were positive illusions, and that
the happy spirits who saw them, and spake of them, and whose radiant
countenances betokened the truthfulness of their testimony, were
dying under the spell of self-deception. Such cases, we know, but
very rarely occur, and when they do occur they make their appearance
quite unexpectedly; but I think they occur often enough, and with
such varying peculiarities, as to make us hesitate to pronounce them
positive illusions, even if we cannot admit with confidence that
they are positive realities."

"At any rate," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "the spell of self-deception,
if they were deceived, was soon broken, as in each case death came
immediately after they uttered their last joyous exclamation; and
then the sublime vision of immortality opened upon them, with all
its glorious realities."

The Rev. Mr. Guion here remarked that, "in general, the Lord's
people die in hope and with great calmness; and sometimes they rise
to confidence, and even to joy, and joy unspeakable. Few, indeed,
rise higher than this; but I have known enough, and heard enough,
to satisfy me that some do. The case of Dr. Gordon, who uttered
no exclamation, is to me a decisive proof of this. He is calm,
motionless, wrapped in profound thoughts, when his countenance,
which had long been marked by the lines of disease and pain, begins
to radiate, till at length its lustre was so clear and bright,
attended by an ecstatic smile so ethereal, that the spectators were
awe-struck, standing and gazing for the space of a quarter of an
hour on this more than human vision. At least, they thought it more
than human while they were gazing on it."

"Every effect," said Mr. Ingleby, "must have some adequate cause;
and this extraordinary radiation on the countenance of Dr. Gordon
was produced either by the action of his own thoughts, or by
the intervention of a supernatural power. If produced by his
own thoughts, what a hold must his soul have taken of invisible
realities when he was dying, to give such a glowing brilliancy
to his pallid face! If produced by the intervening action of
supernatural power, it was a premature shining forth of the glory to
be revealed more fully in the disembodied state. In other words, he
did what was done by the impulse of his _own_ conceptions, or God
was especially with him in his dying chamber, shedding upon him some
effulgent rays of his own glory."

"But to return," said the Rev. Mr. Roscoe, "to the case of Rachel,
the old blind woman, which, because it is capable of a more
practical bearing, I must confess, interests me more than the
splendid case of Dr. Gordon, interesting as it is. But, before
I touch on this, will you permit me to ask how long she lived
after your unexpected interview with her? and whether there was a
recurrence of the astonishing responses to your inquiries?"

"I sat gazing on her," said the Rev. Mr. Ingleby, "some time after I
ceased speaking; and before I left her, her countenance had resumed
its statue-like appearance of positive insensibility; and every
feature was fixed, as though set by the cold hand of death, and
there was not a movement of any part of her body, except the breast
and the shoulders, from the more powerful action of the lungs. The
following week I took a friend with me, in expectation of having
another interview with her; but I was disappointed. On entering the
cottage, her daughter informed me, that having awoke in the night,
and thinking she heard her mother utter some sound, she went with a
light to her bedside, when the old woman, after a slight convulsive
struggle, raised her hands, and said, '_Dear Saviour, I come to
thee_,' and died."

"What a splendid transition!" said Mrs. Stevens; "the cottage
exchanged for a mansion! What a glorious sequel to all her
privations and sufferings! Her happy spirit, long confined in total
darkness, is at last liberated, and is now beholding the glory
of Christ, and living and moving amidst the celestial beings and
sublime grandeur of immortality."

"And yet we are told," said Mr. Roscoe, "that the faith of Christ,
which unveils such grand prospects of a future state of existence,
is a mere delusion, and that we who indulge them are self-deceived.
If we admit this, we must also admit that it is a very remarkable
delusion, as it usually comes in its most vivid forms, and with its
most attractive influences, just at that period of human existence
when all things of earth and of time are vanishing away. At that
awful crisis, when the pomp of distinction, the fascination of
sensible objects, and the grandeur of wealth, are all losing their
hold on us--and nothing is left to man but the shroud, the coffin,
and the grave --at that very time the Christian faith opens up
a scene of grandeur which no words can adequately describe; and
yet the dying man, who feels his departing spirit embracing these
revelations as sublime realities, is told by the cold-hearted
sceptic that all is a delusion, and he is self-deceived. But he
heeds not such random assertions. He moves forward, repeating the
soul-inspiring words, 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod
and thy staff they comfort me' (Psal. xxiii. 4)."

"But this case of poor Old Rachel," said the Rev. Mr. Roscoe, "does
something more than exhibit the efficacy of the Christian faith, in
sustaining the human soul when the _dread hour comes_--it supplies
a proof of the immateriality, and, by a fair inference, of the
immortality of the soul itself. We are told, by some sagacious
sceptics, that the mind of man, like his body, is material, only
that it has passed through a more refined process, and is endowed
_by nature_ with certain faculties analogous to the senses; and as
they came into existence together at the time of his birth, and live
together through life, so they will go out of existence together
when they pay the debt of nature, and, at last, perish together.
And I must confess that humanity has, in some instances, seemed
to give a confirmation to this opinion, as the body and the mind
have appeared to wither and decay together, as age and infirmities
have come upon them. Hence there has been a loss of memory with
the loss of animal vivacity--a loss of intellectual vigour with
the loss of physical strength--a loss of imaginative power with
the loss of sensitive acuteness--the mind and the body undergoing
this reciprocal decay before the change comes which, according
to the sceptic's theory, is to end in their extinction. But,
then, I have met with another class of cases bearing some analogy
to this reciprocal decay, but, at the same time, putting forth
indications in confirmation of a reversed issue, as in the history
of Old Rachel. In her we see the memory losing the impression of
earthly objects, but retaining the impression of heavenly ones. Her
intellect lies prostrate and powerless in the presence of sensuous
and secular inquiries, but it springs into vigorous activity
when spiritual ones are addressed to her. The affections of her
heart have died off from the relationships of life; but they are
concentrated on the perfection of moral beauty, and cleave to Jesus
Christ with an intensity and ardour surpassing that of a youthful
passion. Here we have a living exponent, and a confirmation of the
truthfulness of the apostolic expression, 'Though our outward man
perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.' (See John xi. 25,
26)."

"And there is another practical lesson," Mr. Ingleby remarked,
"which this case of Old Rachel teaches us, and it is this:--When a
man is enlightened by the Spirit, and is brought into fellowship
with Jesus Christ, and has felt the power of the world to come,
he never outlives his knowledge of these wondrous realities which
stand out in bold relief when his remembrance of all other
things is blotted out. He may forget the wife of his bosom, and
the children who revered and loved him--he may forget his mother
tongue, and not recognize the hand which feeds and clothes him--and
he may live till almost every sense has become extinct, and the
avenues of communication between the imprisoned spirit and the
living world are blocked up--but he will never forget by whose
blood he has been redeemed--he will never become insensible to the
charm of His name or the preciousness of His love--nor will he
ever lose sight of the bright and unfading inheritance of which he
has received the earnest. Old Rachel was living at ease, conscious
of her possessions, even when, in the estimation of others, she
was unconscious of her own existence; and indulging the sublimest
anticipations of faith and hope, while in the dark cell of her
confinement."

"Without giving any opinion," said the Rev. Mr. Roscoe, "as to
which of the cases reported this evening is the most remarkable,
or presuming to decide, whether they are to be referred to some
mysterious action of the imagination, or to a real, yet marvellous
manifestation of the Divine presence--leaving each case to stand for
your decision on the ground of its own merits--I think we may make
a good practical use of the whole of them, as, when we see lights
burning, though of varying degrees of brightness, we may avail
ourselves of their radiance even if we cannot tell by whom they are
enkindled. We believe that the evidence which the Bible supplies,
in confirmation of the existence of another world, is sufficiently
ample and decisive to satisfy us of its reality; but still it is
not so ample and decisive as to preclude the desirableness of some
additional evidence. This is often given in the death-chamber of
the Christian believer; and not only to him, when dying, but to
those who are eye-witnesses of the mode of his departure. When,
for example, we see a man of intelligence, of taste, of great
sobriety of thinking, and of courteous speech, quite calm on his
death-bed, and alternately strongly excited--when we hear him
speak of the hope he entertains of a glorious immortality--when we
see him rising above hope into full assurance, eager to depart,
though surrounded by many of the attractions of earth--when every
look, and aspiration, and utterance, beats in harmony with his
long-settled expectation of a grand issue to his faith--we may very
naturally take his experience, not only as a safe guide, but as
a valid testimony to the certainty of what we believe in common.
But now suppose, if, in addition to this tranquil state of mind,
we should see a bright radiance beaming on the countenance of our
dying friend, previously pallid and careworn by disease--and suppose
we should see him raise himself up in bed, looking intently, as
if seeing some beautiful object concealed from us, and, after a
profound silence and stillness of some minutes, we should hear him
speak of actually seeing, while in the body, what we believe he
will see the moment he is out of the body--would not this tend to
strengthen our faith, even though we are unable to decide whether
he actually saw, or merely thought he saw, the scenes he described?
I think it would; and that even the most dubious on the question of
illusion or reality would retire from such a hallowed spectacle,
filled with emotions of deep solemnity and joyous delight, similar
to what a primitive believer must have felt when looking on the face
of Stephen, shining with angelic brilliancy, a visible attestation
of the reality of his miraculous vision."

"I think so too," said the Rev. Mr. Guion. "I should like to witness
such a sight and hear such an exclamation; and though I will admit
that such things may be nothing more than the illusive action of
the imagination, yet how comes the imagination, when performing its
very last operations, to act with so much power, as to imprint such
a visible radiance on a death-struck countenance? I cannot resist
the impression that such cases as Old Rachel's and Dr. Gordon's,
belonging certainly to a diverse order of spiritual phenomena, are
real manifestations of the glory and love of God, and are intended
by him, like the translation of Enoch and Elijah, as supplementary
evidence to confirm the faith, and animate the hope of his redeemed
and beloved children. At any rate, such is the effect they have on
me."

"They have the same effect on my mind," said Mr. Ingleby;
"especially this case of poor Old Rachel, which will retain its
power of impression as long as I exist. I shall never forget the
last interview I had with her, nor her death-like appearance when
I left her; but when I see her again--and I trust to see her ere
long--she will appear in a beauteous form, arrayed in the spotless
robe of celestial glory. We know that our latter end is coming, but
we know not _when_ it will come, or who of the living will be with
us when it does come; nor do we know whether we shall pass away,
like Dr. Gordon, while beams of glory are radiating our countenance,
or steal out of life like poor Old Rachel, as from under a pile of
material ruins; but, for our consolation, we know that our dear
Redeemer has promised that _He_ will come to receive us to himself
when we depart hence, and that where he is we shall be also, and for
ever: 'Wherefore, comfort one another with these words' (1 Thess.
iv. 18)."



DIVERSITY OF OPINION VERY NATURAL.


One morning, while Mrs. Stevens was conversing with Mrs. John
Roscoe, a girl who had been attending Mrs. Stevens' Sabbath-school,
and who was going into service, called at Fairmount for a Bible
which had been awarded to her for her diligence and propriety of
behaviour. After expressing her thanks on receiving it, she added,
in a very modest tone, "I shall value it for your sake, Ma'am, and I
hope I shall love it for its own sake."

"I was very much pleased," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "with the
appearance and manners of your young protegé. The reason she gave
for loving the Bible is a proof of superior intelligence, and, I
should hope, of decided piety."

"Yes, she is an amiable girl, and I hope she is pious. She is
a _rescue_ from a godless family. Her parents are very profane
persons, and their other children are following their example. I
have no doubt of her attachment to the Bible, for she has made
herself very conversant with it."

In the evening, when a few friends were assembled, Mrs. John Roscoe
mentioned how much pleased she had been with the Sabbath-school
girl, and repeated the remark she made on receiving the Bible from
Mrs. Stevens.

"FOR ITS OWN SAKE," said the Rev. Mr. Guion; "that is a
substantially good reason for loving the Bible. It is a somewhat
singular fact that no book, on any subject or in any language,
has so completely divided public belief and sympathy, both on the
question of its origin and its practical utility."

"It certainly," Mr. Roscoe replied, "is a very singular, and a very
wonderful book: wonderful, if true; more so, if false. If true, we
can account for its origin; but how can its origin be accounted for
if it be false? If false, it is an invention; and not the invention
of one man, but of an organized conspiracy, and a conspiracy of good
men, for the Bible is too good a book for bad men to write."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"I admit that a bad man may write a good book;
but to suppose that a number of bad men would conspire to write such
a good book as the Bible, is to admit as great a moral impossibility
as to imagine that a number of good men would form a confederacy
in fraud and duplicity, and then palm off their lying inventions
as positive realities. Now, let us look at the case fairly, and I
think we may make some logical progress in settling the question
of its origin. Here is a Bible, and it consists of two parts--the
Old and the New Testament; and we must recollect that the Old
Testament would be incomplete without the New, and the New Testament
would be incomplete without the Old. Each of these parts consists
of different books, or distinct writings, variously designated,
occupying the space of nearly 2000 years in the composition of
them. If the Bible had been written by any one man in any one age,
or if it had been written by contemporary writers living in the
same city or country, its integrity might be open to very strong
suspicion. But the writers of the Bible lived in different ages and
in different countries, spoke different languages, belonged to very
different ranks in social life, and most of them were unknown to
each other; and yet there is, on all the facts and doctrines, and
institutes of these records, an exact concurrence[4] of testimony
running through the whole of their writings. Amongst the writers
we find legislators, kings, poets, herdsmen, fishermen; one was
a publican, and another a tent-maker, who, at one period of his
life, denounced as false some of the facts of its record, which, on
investigation, he found to be true, and attested the integrity of
his new-formed belief by yielding to a martyr's death. And it will
be at once perceived by the intelligent reader, that these men were
no common-place writers; they moved in no beaten pathway of general
knowledge; they are no copyists--they are originals; what they tell
us no other men had ever thought of, or, if they had, their thoughts
died with them, as they never gave publicity to them. The writers of
the Bible appear amongst us as scribes coming from another world,
well instructed in the mysteries of a unique faith, admirably
adapted to the peculiar exigencies of disordered and perplexed
humanity. In addition to the origin of the world and of evil--the
mediatorial work and government of the Son of God, the moral
character and condition, and responsibilities, and final destiny
of the soul of man--and a future economy of existence to last for
ever--are the momentous truths which they make known to us, through
the media of their multifarious and diversified compositions; of
history, prophecy, parable, poetic songs, and plain didactic prose."

  [4] The sceptic will sometimes endeavour to perplex and entangle the
  faith of an unlearned believer, by insinuating that, as he has never
  traced, through the medium of exact evidence, the origin of the
  different books of the Bible to their source, he cannot be assured
  that his belief is substantially a true belief--it may be, after
  all, nothing but the belief of a fiction. The following quotation
  from a distinguished writer, will, I think, prove as a shield of
  defence to the faith of the unlearned, and convince the sceptic
  himself, that his objection, plausible in appearance, is wanting
  in logical force:--"It is manifest that the concurrent testimony,
  positive or negative, of several witnesses, when there can have been
  no concert, carries with it a weight independent of that which may
  belong to each of them, considered separately. For though, in such
  a case, each of the witnesses should be even considered as wholly
  undeserving of credit, still the chances might be incalculable
  against all agreeing in the _same_ falsehood. It is on this kind of
  testimony that the generality of mankind believe in the motions of
  the earth, and of the heavenly bodies, &c. Their belief is not the
  result of their own observations and calculations, nor yet again of
  their implicit reliance on the skill and good faith of any one or
  more astronomers; but it rests on the agreement of many independent
  and rival astronomers, who want neither the ability nor the will
  to detect and expose each other's errors. It is on similar grounds
  that the generality of men believe in the existence and in the
  genuineness of manuscripts of ancient books. It is not that they
  have themselves examined these, or that they rely implicitly on
  the good faith of those who profess to have done so; but they rely
  on the _concurrent_ and _uncontradicted_ testimony of all who have
  made, or who _might make_, the examination--both unbelievers and
  believers of various hostile sects, any one of whom would be sure
  to seize any opportunity to expose the forgeries or errors of his
  opponents."--_Whately._

  This observation is the more important because many persons are
  liable to be startled and dismayed, on its being pointed out to them
  that they have been believing something, as they are led to suppose,
  on very insufficient reasons, when the truth is, perhaps, that they
  have been merely mis-stating their reasons.

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"And what is especially deserving of our
attention, is the perfect ease and harmony with which they write
on these new and sublime discoveries of moral truth, while they
all write independently of each other. They admit that they are
subordinates, unworthy of the honour of their appointment; yet each
one speaks and writes, and without any appearance of dogmatism or
ostentation, in the same dignified tone of absolute authority; the
voice which speaks and the hand which writes, is human, but what is
said or written, comes from some other source."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir, I think the correctness of your
remark can be demonstrated; at least, it comes as much within the
range of demonstration, as any moral or historic truth, or fact,
can be brought. The Old Testament is incomplete, and comparatively
valueless, without the New; and yet it is written under the obvious
impression and belief, that it would be completed; but on what data
could its writers base their calculation, that they should have
successors who would carry on and perfect what they had begun and
advanced through several stages of its progress. Now, I readily
believe, that a person of a very acute and comprehensive mind,
who has carefully watched and studied the facts and philosophy of
history, may, on some special occasions, give some general outline
of what will be the state of things within a very _near_ futurity,
if he cautiously avoid going into specific and minute details. But
the writers of the Old Testament have opened up the roll of a _very
remote_ futurity,[5] and have recorded extraordinary events, with
their dates and localities, long before their actual occurrence,
portraying the likeness of MESSIAH the PRINCE, ages before his
appearance on earth, and doing it with so much exactness, that it is
a perfect resemblance of the wonderful original. How could they have
done this, unless they had been guided by a prescient Spirit, to
whose eye all the future is as visible as all the past?"

  [5] Deut. xviii. 15; Psal. xlv. 1, 2; lxxii.; Isa. liii.; Dan. ix.
  22, 27; Zech. ix. 9; Mal. iii. 1.

"Foretelling at the same time," said Mrs. John Roscoe, "his tragical
death; which no one would have expected as the termination of his
benevolent career."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"It is, I believe, a law in the republic of
letters, which no one has attempted to repeal, that all writers
shall have the right of giving, if they please, their authorities
for what they say; and of letting us know from what source they
derive the information which they supply to us. Hence, no one
can reasonably object to let the writers of the Bible have the
protection of this law, which is of universal application. And
what do they say on the question relating to the source of their
knowledge? We will take their answer, and then form our own
judgment of its integrity from the facts and evidences of the
case. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God:[6] holy men
of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."[7] This is
a concise statement of their testimony on this great question;
and its integrity is fairly sustained by positive and incidental
evidence. We see that they have given proofs of foreknowledge which
far surpasses the capabilities of the most acute and comprehensive
human mind; while, at the same time, they have made known to us a
connected series of moral and spiritual truths, to which no other
writers make any allusion, and of which they could have formed no
conception, unless they had been under superhuman tuition. What
they have done, is its own defence against the imputation of fraud
and dishonesty--standing as an imperishable memorial of the love
of God to man; and of the fidelity of his servants, in disclaiming
the honour of inventing a theory of faith and morals which justly
claims a Divine origin. This view of the case, which is their
own explanation, settles the question, without requiring us to
believe physical impossibilities, or compelling us to reject the
unrepealable law of moral evidence."

  [6] 2 Tim. iii. 16.

  [7] 2 Pet. i. 21.

_Mr. Roscoe._--"And we may, I think, very properly regard the great
_moral power_ of the Bible as a very telling collateral argument
in favour of its Divine origin. You may take any other book, on
any other subject, and put it into circulation amongst a mass of
people, either semi-barbarians or highly-polished citizens, but it
will work no beneficial changes in the general aspect of their moral
character. It will leave them, as it finds them. If it finds them,
as in India, bowing down and doing homage to stocks and stones, it
leaves them worshipping the workmanship of their own hands--still
revelling in their cruel and obscene abominations. If it finds them,
as in Rome, kissing the crucifix--offering up their adorations
and orisons to the Virgin Mary--or visiting the tomb of a real or
legendary saint, in expectation of some miraculous healing, it
leaves them practising these puerile and senseless exercises. If
it finds them, as in Russia, crouching in terror before the great
Tyrant, doing his biddings like beasts of burden, it leaves them in
this prostrate state of degradation and misery. But put the Bible
into circulation amongst the same class of people, and, after a
while, you will perceive that it is taking effect upon them. One
reads it, and feels its moral power on his conscience and his heart;
another reads it, and he is subdued by its authority; others read
it and the same result follows: they are drawn together by the
attractive power which emanates from it, and become the nucleus of a
new order of human beings springing up in the midst of the unchanged
natives of the place. They are of the same ancestral origin, and
follow the same civil and social avocations and professions; but
they are a peculiar people, resembling the primitive believers of
the New Testament in intelligence and daring courage. They are new
creatures in Christ Jesus; and, in process of time, as they increase
in number and consequent activity, they give a new tone and energy
to the moral, the political, and the religious sentiments and
feelings of an entire community. It is to the Bible that Scotland
is indebted for her moral greatness; and England never would have
risen to her present eminence had it not been for the old Puritans,
who were animated and sustained by the examples, and principles,
and spirit of the Bible, in their passive sufferings and active
exertions in resisting the encroachments and the cruelties of
tyranny and oppression."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Your argument, Sir, is a legitimate one, and
it is as logical, as it is historically true. The book which effects
the changes which are essential to the happiness and well-being of
men as individuals, or men living in a community, but which cannot
be effected by the wit or eloquence of man, may fairly put in a
claim to a higher and a purer origin than mere humanity."

_Mr. Stevens._--"Unbelievers, in general, do not trouble themselves
to account for the origin of the Bible; they take for granted that
it is a book of mysticism and fraud, and at once direct their
virulence against it, and hold it up to scorn and contempt."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"And yet, notwithstanding all these attacks on
the Bible, it still lives and commands attention. In the estimation
of wise and good men, it takes precedence of all other books: they
not only admire, but revere and love it. I have in my parish a
good old man who has a large library, and has been a great reader
for upwards of twenty years, but now he very rarely reads any book
except his Bible. On referring, one day, to his devoted attachment
to the Bible, he said--'I feel, when reading it, in the presence
of God, and what I read comes with authority and power. The more I
read it the more is my attention fixed on another world, and the
more intensely do I desire to depart hence. This is a mean and
comfortless place of residence when compared with the mansion our
Lord is preparing for us in his Father's house.'"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Pious people are very fond of the Bible, and
their attachment to it increases as they advance in years; their
passion for it is often very strong in death."

_Mr. Stevens._--"Your remark, Sir, recalls to my remembrance
what passed, the other day, in a casual conversation between an
intelligent, yet very candid sceptic, and myself. 'There is,' he
said, 'one phenomenon connected with the Bible which has long
puzzled me to account for; if you can solve it, I shall feel
obliged. I have noticed wherever I have been--and I have travelled
through Europe and America--I have visited India and some of the
islands of the South Seas, and resided for awhile amongst the black
population of the West Indies--and whenever I have met with any
persons who believe in the truth of the Bible, whether they were
refined and intelligent or the reverse, they uniformly evinced
for it the same profound reverence and supreme attachment.' 'The
solution,' I replied, 'is easily given. They revere it as their
statute-book, containing the code of laws which their Divine
Legislator has issued to test their obedience to his authority; and
they love it, as bringing life and immortality to light; making
known to them a Saviour who is able and willing to save them from
the wrath to come, and to give them peace of soul as an earnest and
a pledge of future and eternal happiness; and they value it for
its exceeding great and precious promises, which have a soothing
and sustaining influence over their hearts in the times of their
sorrows and afflictions.' 'But how is it,' he added, 'that while
they cherish such a profound reverence for the Bible, they differ
so widely in the interpretation they put on its meaning? How will
you account for this rather puzzling fact?' The sudden entrance of
several strangers into the room prevented me from making a reply."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"This difference of interpretation, which
sceptics often bring forward as a plausible argument against the
Divine origin of the Bible, very frequently perplexes conscientious
believers. I recently received a letter from a gentleman who
says--'When I think of the sentiments which are held by different
bodies of Christians--sentiments which are directly opposed to each
other, and which appear to me to admit of no adjustment; and when I
recollect that they all profess to derive them from the same source,
and are in the habit of appealing to the same authority in support
of them--I feel myself approaching a difficulty which I know not
how to solve. Is the Bible really such a mysterious book that it is
incapable of being understood? Is it an oracle which utters truth
and falsehood? If so, it cannot be a safe guide; and if it be not
so, how do you account for the very different interpretations which
it receives?'"

_Mr. Stevens._--"How did you meet the difficulties of the case?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I did not go fully into the question, because
I knew, from the cast of his mind, that he would work himself right.
I merely stated that conflicting opinions do not, of themselves,
possess sufficient weight to set aside any law, or destroy the truth
of any proposition which comes attested by its own proper evidence.
And to give force to this very obvious truism, I reminded him of our
judges, who sometimes give different interpretations of a statute
law, without impairing its authority; and of our philosophers,
whose different opinions on the primary cause of motion, do not
disturb popular belief in the diurnal revolution of our earth. But,
after all, we do not differ in our interpretations of the Bible so
much as many imagine. It is true there are separate and distinct
denominations of Christians, who are regarded by the ignorant and
bigoted as the disciples and abettors of very opposite religious
creeds; yet if we inquire into the actual state of the case, we
shall find that most of them agree in all that is essential and
vitally important in the Christian scheme, and that they differ only
on what is subordinate, and comparatively unimportant."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"It is supposed by many that this diversity
of interpretation which is given to some parts of the Bible would
have been prevented if a logical or systematic order had been
scrupulously observed. If, for example, the sacred writers had
arranged the facts, the doctrines, the precepts, the institutions,
the sanctions, the evidences, and the final recompense of the
Christian faith, systematically--presenting the whole in a
compendious form--there would be, in that case, so much compactness,
such symmetrical order--one part of the theory would hang so
naturally on another--that it would be extremely difficult, if not
impossible, for any division of opinion to spring up amongst us
on the question of its import or design. We should then think and
believe alike. This is what I have heard some speculatists say; but
I have no confidence in the integrity of their opinion."[8]

  [8] "No such a thing," says Archbishop Whately, "is to be found in
  our Scriptures as a catechism, or regular _elementary introduction_
  to the _Christian religion_; nor do they furnish us with anything
  of the nature of a systematic creed, set of articles, confession
  of faith, or by whatever other name one may designate a regular,
  complete compendium of Christian doctrines; nor, again, do they
  supply us with a liturgy for ordinary public worship, or with forms
  for administering the sacraments, or for conferring holy orders;
  nor do they even give any precise _directions_ as to these and
  other ecclesiastical matters--anything that at all corresponds to
  a rubric, or set of canons." Why these omissions? A great defect
  in our Scriptures, say some; but, in my opinion, it amounts to a
  self-evident confirmation, that the writers of the New Testament
  were under the special dictation of the Divine Spirit, as to what
  they _should_, and what they _should not_ record. If they were
  carrying out a fraudulent design, conceived by their predecessors,
  who wrote the Old Testament, they would, from their educational
  training and desire to act in character with their confederates,
  have imitated their example, and been very specific and minute in
  all their ecclesiastic arrangements. They would have inserted the
  law of dictation and prescription, which was so absolute under the
  Jewish theocracy, in the Christian code, and thus have rendered
  division of opinion and freedom of action impossible. The question
  then turns upon us: Why did they not do what it was very natural
  they should do, and what the necessity of the case would seem to
  require to be done, according to the judgment of every intelligent
  and reflective mind, who looked at it through the medium of the
  existing ecclesiastical regulations of the age and country? Their
  _not doing_ what was thus natural _they should do_, and what the
  necessity of the case, according to human judgment, _required them
  to do_, is of itself a proof that they were not left to the guidance
  of their own understanding, but were held in subjection, according
  to their own confession, by the controlling power and wisdom of the
  Holy Ghost, under whose inspiration all Scripture is given. "The
  Jewish ritual, designed for one nation and country, and intended to
  be of temporary duration, was fixed and accurately prescribed. The
  same Divine wisdom, from which both dispensations proceeded, having
  designed Christianity for all nations and ages, left Christians
  at large in respect of those points in which variation might be
  desirable. But I think no _human_ wisdom would have foreseen and
  provided for this. That a number of _Jews_, accustomed from their
  infancy to so strict a ritual, should, in introducing Christianity
  as the second part of the same dispensation, have abstained not only
  from accurately prescribing for the use of all Christian churches
  for ever the mode of Divine worship, but even from recording
  what was actually in use under their own directions, does seem
  to me utterly incredible, unless we suppose them to have been
  restrained from doing this by a special admonition of the Divine
  Spirit."--_Whately._

  At any rate, whether these omissions are to be attributed to the
  controlling power of the Holy Ghost, or the extraordinary policy of
  the writers of the New Testament, we arrive at the same conclusion,
  that, while we are required to believe, and to contend earnestly for
  the essential facts and doctrines of the Christian faith, which are
  set out with great precision and explicitness, a freedom of action
  is allowed on what may be deemed the subordinate and non-essential
  parts of the same faith. Hence we may differ on some things, without
  any valid impeachment of our Christian wisdom and integrity,
  unless we allow our difference of opinion to produce alienation
  of brotherly affection. When it does this, we make a sacrifice of
  our honour, and give a sanction to the accusation of the common
  adversary, that our hostile divisions are a proof that our religion
  does not come from a wise and benevolent Being--that it is of the
  earth, earthy.

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"The objections against an inspired compendium
of Christian doctrine and practice, are, in my judgment, more
powerful than the arguments in favour of it. If we had it, we
should revere it, and learn it; it would perpetually recur to our
recollection in our reflective moments, and by rendering a studious
examination of the other parts of the Scripture unnecessary, we
should be liable to sink into 'a _contented apathy_' of spirit,
under this conviction, that as we can repeat all, we know all that
is necessary for us to know."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"Archbishop Whately, when alluding to this
subject, says, 'that if we had this compendium, both it and the
other parts of the Scriptures would be regarded as of Divine
authority; but the compendium itself would be looked upon by most as
the fused and purified metal; the other, as the mine containing the
crude ore. And the compendium itself, being, not like the existing
Scriptures, that _from which_ the faith is to be learned, but _the
very thing to be learned_, would come to be regarded by most with an
indolent, unthinking veneration, which would exercise little or no
influence over them.'"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Universal experience proves, that facility in
obtaining a supply to our physical necessities, is not so beneficial
to the energy and vigour of the human constitution, as difficulty,
which stimulates to labour and invention. Compare, for example,
the natives of the South Sea Islands, whose bread-fruit ripens of
itself, with the hardy Highlanders of Scotland, who have to toil
for their living through frost and snow, as well as sunshine--what
a difference in their muscular and masculine conformation and
appearance. And the same remark is equally applicable to the mind of
man, whose knowledge on any subject, in any department of science,
and especially the science of Biblical theology, is accurate and
profound, in proportion to the efforts he is obliged to make in its
acquisition. A compendium would be the bread-fruit, within reach,
and easily plucked. We should, if we had it, become dwarfs in
Biblical theology. It is only when our energies are roused by a love
of the truth, and stimulated by the difficulties connected with its
attainment, that our knowledge in the mystery of Christianity gets
perfected, and becomes practically powerful in its influence over
the heart and the character."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"And in addition to the relaxing influence
which a compendium would exert over the mind--indisposing it to any
labour in searching the Scriptures, except the labour of the memory,
and that to a very superficial extent--I have another objection to
such a projected scheme, which is this:--I do not think it possible
for the Christian faith to be reduced to such a compact, or what
you term compendious form, as shall secure amongst its advocates
and defenders a perfect unity of belief on all points, without the
perpetual exercise of a supernatural agency in the illumination and
guidance of the mind, which would amount to something like a plenary
inspiration to every believer. Now what can be more logically
explicit than the articles of our church; and yet what a very
different construction do different men put upon them!"

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"That is true. If I were in a church on a
Sabbath morning listening to a Tractarian; if I returned in the
afternoon, and heard a Moderate; and if, in the evening, I occupied
the same pew, while an Evangelical was doing duty in the pulpit, I
should find myself in a modern Babel, witnessing, on a small scale,
a new specimen of the confusion of tongues."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"But this difference of opinion and diversity
of interpretation on the same theory of belief, prevails amongst
others as well as amongst us. Even amongst unbelievers, who almost
deify reason--asserting and maintaining, that it is fully equal to
all the exigencies of humanity, without being under any obligation
to a Divine inspiration--there is almost an endless diversity of
belief and opinion on all questions relating to God, to human
responsibility, and the final destiny of man. They are obliged to
pass a toleration act to live in peace."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I like a toleration act; it is essential to
our peace. The period is coming when we shall _'see eye to eye_;'
but that will be under a dispensation very different to the present;
we must now agree to differ, and while contending earnestly for
the faith once delivered to the saints, we must live together as
brethren."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"Jesus Christ said to his disciples--'These
things I command you, that ye love one another' (John xv. 17); and
he says the same things to us. And if we love one another, we shall
never vote for a repeal of our toleration act, which admits of some
shades of difference in our religious belief and opinions."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"It was doubted, a few years since, whether
even the spiritual members of our various denominations cherished
any fraternal esteem and affection for each other--they often acted
more like gladiators than brethren; but now they are cultivating a
spirit of union and peace."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"This change in their spirit and conduct is a very
gratifying and auspicious event; but some good men maintain that the
entire abolition of the distinctive denominations and their union
in one undivided body, would be more conducive to the honour of
Christianity, and more favourable to its progressive triumphs."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"This I conceive to be impracticable during the
partial obscurity of the present dispensation; and I must confess
that I do not think it advisable. I have no objection to those
divisions of opinion which separate us into different denominations,
though I deplore the spirit which they sometimes engender. I think
that a variation in belief, on some of the minor questions of
religion, by keeping our attention awake and active, tends to
preserve the more important truths in a purer state; and the action
and re-action of one Christian denomination on another, prevents
that stagnation of feeling, and that inertness of principle, which
an unbroken and undisturbed uniformity admits of."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"But, would not the church assume a more imposing
aspect, and put forth a more powerful energy, if she could unite all
her members in one undivided body, under the immediate authority
of one Head, than she does now, broken as she is, into so many
subdivisions?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir, if she could preserve her purity
uncontaminated; but we ought never to forget, that while the
religion we profess is Divine in its origin, and indestructible in
its nature, it is human in its forms and administrations. Hence it
alternately displays resistless power and exhausted weakness--the
sanctity and grandeur of its Author, along with the infirmities
and imperfections of the agents to whom it is intrusted--sometimes
exciting the profound veneration of the multitude, and at other
times their contempt or indifference. And it is this admixture of
what is human with what is Divine, that renders it expedient that
there should be some exposure to the influence of that re-action of
distinctive opinions, and of social attachments, which, by keeping
us alive to _the purity and extension of our separate communions_,
tends to promote the purity and extension of the faith which we hold
in common."

_Mr. Stevens._--"Your opinion exactly accords with my own. Hence,
instead of regarding the Established Church, and the various
denominations of orthodox Dissenters, as hostile foes, aiming at
each other's humiliation and destruction, we should look on them as
subjects of the same monarch, each bearing the distinctive insignia
of his own order; yet mutually supporting each other without the
formality of a visible contact, and, as his sovereign will directs,
advancing, each in his own way, the work of reclaiming to a state of
allegiance the people who have revolted from his authority."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Or, to vary the figure, we may view them as
so many servants belonging to the same master, who are employed in
cultivating the great moral vineyard, whose reward at last will be
in proportion to their fidelity to him, and their affection for each
other. If this comparison be just, then, if we cherish a complacent
feeling exclusively for those who belong to our own class, and
attempt to lord it over our fellow-servants who may belong to
another, or treat them discourteously, we dishonour ourselves, and
offend against the law of our Lord, who has commanded us to love
each other as brethren."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"When I consider the fallibility of the human
mind--the prejudices of education--the influence of accidental
reading and associations--and the extensive prevalence of erroneous
opinions, instead of being astonished by the shades of difference
which prevail amongst us, I am surprised that we think so nearly
alike. We agree on the substantial facts, and doctrines, and
institutes, and precepts of revelation, while we differ on some of
its forms and ceremonial enactments. But these trifling differences,
which do not endanger the safety, nor add to the stability of
our faith, ought not to excite jealousy and suspicion, and cause
alienation of affection, as though we were avowed enemies. No. When
this is the case we give a decisive proof that we do not possess the
spirit of the gospel; or, if we possess it, we do not display it,
which aggravates rather than extenuates our sin."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"In the last prayer our Saviour uttered, just
before he presented himself the expiatory sacrifice for human guilt,
he earnestly entreated that all his disciples, in every future age,
might be one, even as he and his Father are one; and he assigns the
reason--_That the world may know that thou hast sent me._ For some
ages, the object of that prayer was realized in the harmony which
prevailed amongst Christians whose religion was a bond of union
more strict and tender than the ties of consanguinity; and with
the appellation of brethren they associated all the sentiments of
endearment that relation implied. To see men of the most contrary
characters and habits--the learned and the rude--the most polished,
and the most uncultivated--the inhabitants of countries alienated
from each other by institutions the most repugnant, and by contests
the most violent--forgetting their ancient animosity, and blending
into one mass, at the command of a person whom they had never
seen, and who had ceased to be an inhabitant of this world, must
have been an astonishing spectacle. Such a sudden assimilation of
the most discordant materials; such love issuing from hearts the
most selfish, and giving birth to a new race and progeny, could
be ascribed to nothing but a Divine interposition; it was an
experimental proof of the commencement of that kingdom of God--that
celestial economy, by which the powers of the future world are
imparted to the present."

_Mr. Stevens._--"It must have been a spectacle no less delightful to
the eye of the Christian than astonishing to the unbeliever; and had
the visible church always exhibited such a spectacle of union and
affection, her history would have been the records of her spiritual
triumphs, rather than of her persecutions and her miseries. But
her bonds of union have been broken asunder, and her love of the
brethren has been quenched in the bitter waters of strife. We
are the descendants of the holy men who first caught, and first
displayed the spirit of the Prince of Peace, but how little do we
resemble them! We imbibe the same faith, plead the same promises,
claim the same privileges, participate in the same spiritual
enjoyments, bear the same distinctive and relative character, and
anticipate the same high destiny; but we too often act as though
we were released from the obligations which they admitted and
discharged; and instead of attempting to convince sceptics and
unbelievers of the divinity of our Lord's mission, and the moral
efficacy of his death, by our union and our reciprocal affection, we
strengthen them in their infidelity by our anti-Christian spirit.
Can no remedy be devised to correct this noxious evil, which, like a
withering blight, tarnishes the moral lustre of all our distinctive
denominations, and does more to embitter the spirit, and extend the
triumphs of infidelity, than the most virulent works which issue
from her corrupt and hostile press?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Why, Sir, I hope the evil is in some small
degree abated by the influence of our public institutions. Those
who, a few years since, were envious and jealous of each other, now
associate together on the most friendly terms. If the Bible Society
has not terminated the contest, it has been the means of concluding
a truce between them; and I flatter myself that there will be
no renewal of hostilities, even though some of the more bigoted
belonging to the different denominations should feel disposed to
revive them."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"I fear, Sir, you are rather too sanguine in
your expectations. In the little circle in which we move, in this
isolated spot of the religious world, the spirit of fraternal love
and union is cherished; but what commotion and strife prevail just
now between both the clerical and lay members of our own church!"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir, I know it and deplore it. It is the
spirit of dry formalism setting itself in array against the spirit
of vital Christianity; and the contest will be severe, but the issue
is certain--the Word of the Lord will prove more powerful than the
traditions of man."

_Mr. Stevens._--"I must confess that I am rather sanguine in my
calculations of the moral influence of the Bible Society on the best
and most active men of our age. Dr. Mason, of New York, says, in
the preface to a work which he has published--'Within a few years
there has been a manifest relaxation of sectarian rigour among
the different denominations in America, so that the spirit of the
gospel, in the culture of fraternal charity, has gained a visible
and growing ascendency. This happy alteration,' he adds, 'may be
attributed, in a great degree, to the influence of missionary and
Bible societies.'"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"And it is so amongst us to some extent. Till
the Bible Society arose, and gained a settlement in our land, we
had not an inch of neutral ground on which we could assemble, and
unite with each other in any religious enterprise; but now we have
the province of Goshen assigned us; and the air of that place is
so salubrious, the light so clear and brilliant, the atmosphere
so temperate and serene, and the harmony of its inhabitants so
profound, that we venerate it as the mystic inclosure in which we
have an emblematical representation of the celestial inheritance--in
which the spirits of the just live in closest union and sweetest
concord. May the catholicism of grace and truth wax stronger and
stronger, till Ephraim shall not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim;
the strife of sect being overcome and banished by the all-subduing
love of God our Saviour!"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"And what is it but prejudice, arising from ignorance
and misconception, which prevents this cordial union and fraternal
attachment? No one, I am conscious, who understands the genius of
Christianity, or who has ever felt his bosom glow with supreme
love to the Redeemer, can for a single moment presume to recommend
disunion amongst the members of the household of faith, though they
may occupy different compartments, and commune at separate tables.
It is prejudice that kept me aloof from Dissenters, and made me
unwilling to associate with them; because I understood that the
generality of them rejected the essential doctrines of Christianity;
but now my error is corrected, I esteem them as my brethren in
Christ; and as I hope to meet them in heaven, and unite with them
in the sublime exercises of that holy place, I feel a pleasure in
mingling with them on earth."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I have lived on terms of intimacy with many
who do not belong to the church of which I am a minister, and some
of the happiest moments of my life have been spent in social and
spiritual intercourse with them. Our conversation, when we have
been together, has not turned on the questions on which we differ,
but on those on which we agree; and I have often retired from these
interviews with my mind relieved from its cares, and both animated
and enriched by the interchange of devout sentiment and feeling.
And in looking forward to the final consummation, I indulge a hope
of partaking of much holy delight in associating with Luther and
Calvin, with Fenelon and Claude, with Whitfield and Wesley, with
Hall, Foster and Chalmers, and other illustrious men, of the same
and other denominations, who have entered into rest. I have lived in
stormy times, but I have never increased the fury of the tempest. I
have seen the spirit of party raging with desolating violence, and
have known some of those, who have borne the image of the heavenly,
stand in opposing columns to each other in the field of fierce and
angry debate; but I have been enabled, through the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ, to hold on my way unconnected with their unhappy
hostilities; and now it is with no common feelings of gratitude
and delight that I indulge the hope of leaving the church and the
world at a period when, if the temple of war is not actually closed,
yet our denominations are forming a more correct estimate of each
other's relative strength and importance, in the conflict which
we have to sustain against the combined powers of superstition
and infidelity; and this will necessarily tend to increase our
reciprocal esteem and confidence."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"If, in our intercourse with each other, we
always acted on your prudential maxim, of conversing on questions
of general agreement, rather than on controversial ones, the spirit
of discord would be exorcised from amongst us, and then we might, I
think, justly calculate on a more copious measure of the influences
of the Spirit poured down from on high, when we should intuitively
feel, by a force of evidence too powerful to be withstood, that
_God is love_, and that we never please him more than when we
embrace, with cordiality and esteem, all who bear his image, without
distinction of sect or party."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"In these sentiments of Christian liberality and
charity I now concur most heartily."



UNION WITHOUT COMPROMISE


The Rev. Mr. Ingleby, on resuming the discussion of the question
of union amongst the various denominations of believers in the
Divine origin of the faith of Christianity, made the following
very pertinent remarks:--"If it were the will of God that the
various denominations of Christians should all think and act alike,
as the tribes of Israel were required to do under the Levitical
dispensation, we should have laws laid down for our guidance with
the same minuteness and explicitness as was done for them. But such
is not the case. We have certain general principles laid down,
and the motives by which all our actions should be governed set
before us with clearness and precision, but we have no particular
directions as to the external form of church government. We are
therefore left free to adopt that ecclesiastical system which, after
careful examination, we find most in conformity with the spirit of
the New Testament."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"You mean, Sir, I presume, that we are left free
to choose either the Episcopal, or Presbyterian, or Congregational
form of church government?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir; and though I do not profess to
be deeply read in casuistry, yet I believe that very much may be
collected from the facts and incidents recorded in Scripture, and
from the casual expressions of the sacred writers in favour of each
of these forms of church government."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"And so I think. We are not living under a law
laid down with minute exactness, like the ancient tribes of Israel,
but have the right of exercising our choice on these matters of
church polity, and our choice is determined by preference or
expediency, or both. That is, I may deem it expedient to be an
Episcopalian in one country, or a Presbyterian in another, or a
Congregationalist in a third; and I may, at the same time, most
decidedly prefer one of these modes of church government to either
of the other, as being, in my opinion, the nearest approach to
the teachings of the New Testament. To adopt such a principle as
this is, appears to me more in harmony with the spirit of the New
Testament dispensation, than putting in a claim for the Divine
right of Episcopacy, or Presbyterianism, or Congregationalism;
it is an equitable concession to others of the liberty we claim
for ourselves; and hence, without being guilty of any degree of
inconsistency, we can cultivate Christian fellowship with our
brethren of other denominations, without compromising our own
principles."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"You will still leave, I presume, as a question
open for discussion, the relative conformity of each mode of church
government to the New Testament model?"

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"Most certainly; and when discussions go on,
untainted by the dogmatism and acrimony of party predilections and
antipathies, and are conducted in a liberal and loving spirit, they
tend to give solidity to the foundation on which our relative union
is based; and show, at the same time, that it can be cemented and
perpetuated without any dishonourable compromise."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"I was present in a company some time since, when
an ingenious Scotchman made out, as he thought, a very strong claim
for the superiority of Presbyterianism to the other forms of church
government. Episcopacy, he remarked, has the monarchical element
too dominant in her constitution--_the clergy are everything;_ in
Congregationalism, the democratic element is too dominant--_the
people are everything_; but Presbyterianism unites the two elements,
and in about equal proportions _the clergy and the people act
together_--they are a combined power."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Ingenious, if not just. However, without
pausing to discuss this question, I think it is very plain that the
writers of the New Testament evince a much stronger predilection
for the facts and doctrines of the gospel than they do for its
rites and ceremonies--deeming the one essential to the integrity
of the faith, while the other is subordinate and non-essential;
and I think we cannot do better than imitate them; for after
all, the forms and ceremonies of church government are but as the
chaff to the wheat--the mere attire of a living personage, not
the person himself. I prefer Episcopacy to either of the other
forms, though I will not take upon myself the task of defending
every appendage which has been affixed to it; yet, with all my
predilections in its favour, if the pure faith of Christianity
were ejected from an Episcopal pulpit, _as it often is_, I would
go and worship in a Congregational chapel; and I have no doubt but
a spiritually-enlightened Presbyterian would rather listen to the
glad tidings of salvation in one of our churches, than to a merely
moral sermon in one of his own. In my opinion, the three distinct
orders of churches may be planted on the same soil, may grow in
harmony side by side; and without any compromise of principle, may
co-operate with each other, in combined movements, against either
their Papal or sceptical opponents, and feel also a high degree
of joyous satisfaction in witnessing each other's prosperity and
honour."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Yet I still prefer fellowship with our own church,
while cherishing fraternal esteem and fellowship with our Christian
brethren of other churches."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Certainly. When we say that the members of
our church, and the various orders of Dissenters who have seceded
from it, ought, in obedience to the authority of the Lord Jesus
Christ, to cherish reciprocal esteem, and live in peaceful harmony,
we do not mean that they are to separate themselves from their own
communions, or cease to give them a decided preference."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"In that view of the case I heartily concur;
for if the spirit of a comprehensive brotherly love and fellowship
were to lead to alienation from our distinctive denominations, it
would want one of the evidences of being a peace-maker--healing
the breaches which party spirit has unhappily made amongst us. As
a member of a family ought to feel a stronger regard, and take a
deeper interest in its prosperity and happiness, than he is expected
to cultivate towards the community at large, so I think the member
of any individual Christian church, may and ought to cherish a
greater affection for his brethren with whom he lives on more
intimate terms of fellowship than he does for his fellow-disciples
in general."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"You have, Sir, very clearly expressed the view
I now entertain of our relative obligations. We are to do good
to all when we have an opportunity, but more especially to those
of the household of faith with whom we are united in church
fellowship--uniformly endeavouring, by our prayers, our influence,
our wealth, and our sympathy, to promote their individual and
collective prosperity and happiness."

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"You are now leading us from the sentimental and
ceremonial to the practical department of Christian obligation, in
which I think, from motives of gratitude to our Divine Master, we
ought all to be increasingly active, provoking one another unto love
and good works. This will be acting more in harmony with our faith,
and prove more beneficial to ourselves and others than a rigid
adherence to any sectarian form. When returning home the other day
from one of my pastoral visitations, I met a very poor man, who had
a severe affliction in his family, and he said rather abruptly, 'I
wish, Sir, you would give us a sermon from the words of the apostle
John, 'But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother
have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how
dwelleth the love of God in him?' (1 John iii. 17).' I was not
surprised at this application, when I found that he had just been to
the Hall, the residence of a very wealthy professor of religion, to
ask some assistance for his distressed family, but had received only
a few words of vague sympathy and regret for his misfortunes."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Well may the apostle say--how dwelleth the
love of God in such a heart! But, alas, wealth too often proves a
curse to its possessor. How kindly and tenderly does the apostle
address us: 'My little children, let us not love in word, neither in
tongue, but in deed and in truth.'"

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"Our Divine Master exhibits himself as the model
for our imitation; making, at the same time, our love for each other
the test of the genuineness of our Christian character: 'A new
commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have
loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know
that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another' (John
xiii. 34, 35)."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"_As I have loved you!_--emphatic words,
expressive of the spirit we ought to cultivate towards all our
Christian brethren, especially the afflicted, and prescribing the
rule for our conduct towards them. If we imbibe this spirit and act
upon it, we shall then endeavour to cheer them with our sympathy in
the hours of their grief and mourning, and cheerfully draw from our
worldly resources to afford them relief when in want. I remember now
an anecdote told by the Rev. Mr. Jay:--A pious, but poor member of
his church being visited by one of the deacons, and presented with
five shillings as a church gift, with the remark, 'Here is a trifle
for your necessities,' replied, 'What you call a trifle, I call an
estate.'"

_Miss Roscoe._--"I believe, dear uncle, that you now have in your
congregation an organized society, labouring to promote the physical
as well as the spiritual good of the needy and destitute."

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"O yes, we are working the principle of
practical benevolence, and on the basis of a comprehensive union;
and I am happy to say it works well in spite of the grumblers who
would rather sleep on and take their rest than be roused to action.
The gentlemen take the management of the domiciliary society, going
from house to house with tracts, &c., &c., and the ladies manage
the Dorcas society, which is in a very flourishing condition. In
addition to a pretty large number of subscribers, we have twenty
working members who meet once a fortnight for the purpose of making
clothes for the poor. Some of these are persons of wealth, others
are in moderate circumstances; and, as in the gentlemen's society,
some are church people, and some are Dissenters, you may there see
sitting in peaceful harmony, members of the various denominations,
all busily engaged in the same sort of labour, and heartily
prosecuting the same work."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"Then you have grumblers amongst you!"

_Mrs. Roscoe._--"Indeed, we have. They are a very prolific
family--they may be found everywhere, and the whole fraternity is
distinguished by a strong family likeness."

_Miss Roscoe._--"Do you give the clothes to the poor, or do you sell
them?"

_Mrs. John Roscoe._--"In general we sell what we make, yet very much
below the cost price; but in extreme cases we give clothing, and, in
addition to this, when any of those who require relief are ill, we
visit them, and we often find that a kind visit is esteemed as much,
if not more than our gratuities."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"I can easily believe that, because there is
great power in sympathy to alleviate the sorrows of the heart. We
cannot explain the action of moral power, nor conceive the mode
of its operation, however sensible we may be of its effects. What
power, for example, in a frown to depress! and in a smile to elevate
and tranquillize! What power in words both to cheer and sadden the
heart! _As I have loved you_--these expressive words should guide
our fraternal intercourse with our Christian brethren, who, when
they feel our sympathy to be real, will often attach a much greater
value to it than to any amount of pecuniary assistance."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"We are too apt to forget that our Christian
brethren, in common with ourselves, are children of one Father,
and that we are all now passing through a preparatory discipline
to fit us for a higher and purer condition of existence in another
world. If these great facts were more powerfully impressed on our
hearts, there would be more sympathy and more charity; the rich
would cheerfully administer to the wants of their poor brethren, and
those who have but little worldly substance to bestow, would more
often soothe and enliven them by their sympathy and good wishes.
Christian fellowship would then be more than a mere term--it would
be a reality."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Your remarks, Sir, are quite correct. And
here we see the wisdom as well as the love of our Redeemer in
grafting our obligations to the most intimate Christian fellowship
on the very constitution of our nature, which inclines us to live
in social intercourse; guarding us at the same time from the danger
of contracting a sectarian spirit by enjoining on us the duty of
doing good _unto all men_, as well as to those who belong to the
_household of faith_."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"It is to be lamented, Sir, that there are many
who do not keep pace in liberality of sentiment and feeling, and
generosity of disposition, with the denomination or church to
which they belong--they will not labour in the field of practical
benevolence, and they do not like to see others exerting themselves;
in fact, they will do nothing but find fault with the active
labourers, either impeaching the purity of their motives, or
predicting the failure, if not the pernicious results of their
efforts. And when these morbid grumblers happen to be imbued, as
is often the case, with a sectarian spirit, and take rank with
high churchmen or with bigoted Dissenters, the moment they see a
conjunction of the different orders, they tremble for the safety of
the ark of _their_ covenant, and raise a hue and cry against the
union of the sects--become bitter in their spirit and censorious
in their speech--and appear in a light very unbecoming the genuine
disciples of our Lord."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Such professors do essential injury, not only
to the honour of the church and denomination to which they belong,
but to the cause of religion in general. The evil which results
from the anti-Christian temper and spirit of these arrogant and
censorious professors, who usually contrive to attract more notice
than the rest of their fellow-members, is incalculable. It supplies
infidels with their most plausible topics of invective; it hardens
the conscience of the irreligious, weakens the hands of the good,
and is probably the principal obstruction to that ample effusion of
the Holy Spirit which is essential to the renovation of the world.
If, then, we wish to make any deep and permanent impression on the
sceptical and irreligious--to silence their objections and convince
them of the Divine origin of the faith which we profess--we must
correct our tempers--we must live in peace amongst ourselves,
discover no disposition to injure or annoy each other, and give
unequivocal proof that the questions on which we differ are the
subordinate tenets of revelation, which may be received or rejected
without affecting its truth, or impairing its strength; and, by a
union of affection and concentration of our talents, we must advance
in the beautiful development of our Christian life, remembering
that the wisdom which is from above is 'first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, and easy to be intreated; full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy.' When the pious members
of the Establishment and the various denominations of evangelical
Dissenters are brought to merge their speculative and ceremonial
differences in the cultivation and display of this Christian temper,
the eulogium pronounced on the primitive disciples may then with
truth be applied to us--'See how these Christians love one another!'"

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"The novelty of the sight would certainly command
attention; and though I am fully persuaded that nothing but a
supernatural power can renovate the human heart, yet such a display
of united affection might have a wondrous effect, almost approaching
that of a miracle, in the conversion of the world."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"If it be true that our personal happiness bears
a proportion to our conformity to the spirit and temper of Jesus
Christ, it is evident that a liberal-minded Christian must partake
of a much larger share of enjoyment than one who lives under the
influence of that sectarian bigotry which keeps him in a state of
alienation from his brethren of other communions."

_Mr. Stevens._--"Most certainly, Sir; and by your permission I will
now read you a paragraph with which I was very forcibly struck when
I first lighted upon it. The author is speaking of bigotry, and he
says, 'This sectarian and intolerant spirit can view no excellence
out of its own pale, and deems every opinion heresy that does not
bow to its authority. Its plans of doing good always betray the
selfishness of their origin; and unable from its very nature to
form designs commensurate with the grandeur of religion and the
necessities of the world, it not only refuses to co-operate with
Christians of another party in promoting the well-being of society
and the advancement of religion, but contemplates with jealousy and
often with abhorrence, the noblest efforts of benevolence, when not
performed under its exclusive auspices. Persons governed by such a
spirit cannot view with complacency the separate divisions of the
universal church, though there is nothing in their constitution
that necessarily militates against _the unity of the spirit_ and
_the bond of peace_. This unlovely bigotry narrows the range of
the intellect--perverts and contracts the best affections--and,
under its influence, even good men forget the charities of their
renewed nature, and sometimes prostitute their talents to bear
false witness against each other. To this bigotry, that religion,
whose very essence is love, is directly opposed. Christians who
imbibe the spirit of the New Testament, and who suffer that holy
book to operate with full force upon their minds, are distinguished
by a noble freedom from sectarian antipathies. They can say from
the heart, 'Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in
sincerity.' Without verging to the extreme of latitudinarian
indifference, they can rejoice in the success of parties different
from their own, and they do not complain because 'devils are cast
out by those who follow not with them.' Every man is a friend and a
brother who consecrates his being to the glory of the Saviour, and
every society a church in whose temple Jesus evidently records his
name.'"

_Rev. Mr. Roscoe._--"Yes, Sir, I am conscious that a pious man,
who possesses the pure spirit of his religion, is at once the most
useful and the most happy man. As his happiness arises from sources
more refined than those to which the men of the world have access,
his usefulness is of a more important and more durable nature.
I remember an observation which was once made on a friend of my
own, when he withdrew from a select company to which he had been
communicating some benevolent scheme--'When he visits us he always
leaves something behind that is worth thinking of and worth talking
about.'"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir; as the spirit of the gospel is a
liberal so it is an active spirit. It does not wish to monopolize
the immunities of religion, but to diffuse them; and such is the
intensity and ardour of its benevolence that the meanest, the most
abject child of sorrow, the poor outcast from the common sympathies
of humanity, the forlorn object of woe whom few men would pity, whom
no man could save, are the partakers of its bounties."

_Mr. Roscoe._--"As the general well-being of society is essentially
benefited by the active benevolence of Christianity, may we not,
Sir, indulge a hope that the prosperity of vital religion in our
different communions, would be promoted by the cultivation of a
reciprocal affection?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"There may be, I grant, external prosperity in
our churches, even while the vital spirit of religion is languishing
in the hearts of the people; as the oak may send forth its spreading
branches and luxuriant foliage, when at the heart the tree is hollow
and rotten. And perhaps the vital spirit of religion is exposed to
more danger in the season of external prosperity than in the season
of external adversity. When the congregation is large, and the
spirit of unanimity and liberality is generally displayed--when a
cordial attachment subsists between the pastors and their people;
and the lookers-on are heard to exclaim, _they are of one heart
and of one soul_, some may be tempted to forget from whom these
invaluable blessings proceed, and cherish a self-complacent, if not
an independent spirit. But I never knew vital religion flourish
amongst any people _who were not united_. The Spirit of the Holy
One never comes to breathe on the dry bones of the slain when the
valley echoes with the neighing of the horses, and the rattling of
the chariots of war. Wars must be made to cease, the bow must be
broken, and the spear cut in sunder--the chariots must be burned in
the fire, and the tranquillity of unruffled peace must reign over
the whole scene, ere he descends to unite the disjointed parts,
and animate the lifeless body. It is to the influence of the Holy
Spirit over the mind that we are to ascribe that portion of vital
religion which we enjoy. He still dwells amongst us, yet not in
the plenitude of his power. _Occasionally_ he descends in the
ministry of reconciliation, and effects a moral transformation on
the character of a large proportion of the people, as in the islands
of the Pacific Ocean; but in general, the exercise of his power
is restricted to a small number in our congregations, who are, at
distinct and distant intervals, made alive from the dead. But as
this is emphatically termed the dispensation of the Spirit, and as
the honour of glorifying Christ, in giving efficacy to the truth
which he has revealed and attested, is reserved for _Him_, to what
secondary cause shall we attribute his very partial communications,
except to the offence which our discords and alienation of
attachment have given him? If He require peace and affection in an
individual church, as the precursors of his gracious visitations,
does He not require the same amongst the separate divisions of his
universal church?"

_Mr. Lewellin._--"Most unquestionably, Sir, though the fact has
not produced that deep impression on the popular mind which its
importance demands. But the day of peace, I hope, is dawning upon
us, and the union of Christians of various denominations will, I
trust, be drawn closer as time moves on in its course. The voice
of prayer is more frequently and more generally heard for the
outpouring of Divine influence on the external means of grace, and
already we see here and there some verdant spots of spiritual beauty
and of life, amidst the surrounding desolations of evil and of
death; thus exhibiting to us, as in miniature, the future state of
the whole moral world, 'when judgment shall dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness remain in the fruitful field; and when the work
of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness,
quietness and assurance for ever.'"

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"The miraculous gifts with which the apostles
were endowed, while they had to contend 'against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in the high places' of pagan idolatry,
and social profligacy, have long since ceased, with the exigency
which called them forth; but the renewing and sanctifying agency
of the Spirit remains, and will continue to the end of time--the
express declaration of our Saviour not admitting of a doubt of its
perpetuity:--'And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you
another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.' And if,
as we have reason to believe, his extraordinary outpouring on our
churches will not take place till we are united in the bonds of
peace, it behoves each individual Christian to cultivate the spirit
of concord, with the utmost degree of vigilance and caution. To our
prayers for his concurring testimony with the word of life, we must
add a watchfulness over our own tempers, lest we should be involved
in the charge of preventing the bestowal of the blessing which we
solicit, by grieving the Agent on whose will it depends."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Your remarks, Sir, are just, and I wish they
were deeply engraven on the heart of every Christian, by the Spirit
of the living God; and then the ministration of righteousness,
intrusted to us, would display a glory surpassing the brightest
emanation of the Divine presence which the annals of the church
record. Then we should see the prejudices of the people, which now
obstruct the progress of pure evangelical religion, giving way; and
the result would bear a spiritual resemblance to the blessed effects
produced by the descent of the angel of Bethesda."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"May we not suppose, Sir, that the general
impression which is produced amongst the pious of all denominations
of the absolute necessity of the outpouring of the Spirit on the
labours of ministers at home, and of missionaries in foreign parts,
viewed in connection with the growing liberality and esteem we
cherish towards each other, is one of the spiritual signs which
indicate the bestowal of the blessing so earnestly implored?"

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I think we may. It is the beginning of
that great work which the Divine Spirit will complete when the
fulness of the time comes, and the effects of which being of a
moral and spiritual nature, will continue to bless the world after
the subordinate agents of its production have entered into rest.
'Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens
and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.'"

_Mr. Lewellin._--"And as this union and affection will form one of
the most powerful evidences of the divinity of our Lord's mission,
it will, at the same time, be a practical refutation of some of the
charges which have been brought against Christianity, as though it
had an anti-social and repulsive tendency; and it will also exhibit
the finest representation of the internal economy of the heavenly
world which can be given. _There_ is diversity of rank but unity of
thought; and though the various orders of beings may occupy superior
and subordinate stations under the government of the Eternal
King, yet no one is envious of another's elevation, or jealous of
another's influence."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"There is one circumstance connected with our
entrance into heaven, which I think ought not to be overlooked.
It is this. When we enter, or when we are anticipating that
great event, we shall place no dependence on our distinctive
peculiarities; nor advert to them, except to express our regret
on account of the evil effects which they too often produce. At
that period in the history of our being, the mind will be too
deeply absorbed in the contemplation of its specific character
and condition--will be too solemnly affected by the anticipation
of its final destiny, and will feel too deeply abased, under a
consciousness of its utter unworthiness of the Divine favour, to
dwell even for a moment on any other subject than its redemption
from all evil and from all misery by the death of the Lord Jesus
Christ. In comparison with this, every other subject that has
engrossed our attention, or interested our feelings, will vanish
away, as a thing of nought; and after having thus disengaged
ourselves from all association with the minor questions, which now
agitate, and divide, and dishonour us, we shall be free to enter the
joy of our Lord, as sinners redeemed by his blood, rather than as
saints belonging to any one denomination of Christians."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"I have just had, Sir, a practical illustration
of the truthfulness of your observations. I was sent for early,
a few mornings ago, to visit a pious member of my own church,
and in the evening of the same day, at the request of a friend,
I went to see a member of a Dissenting church, a very godly man;
and, to the rejoicing of my heart, I found them breathing the same
spirit--avowing the same belief--deriving consolation from the same
source--and giving utterance to the joyful anticipations of mingling
their grateful feelings together in the same heavenly temple, where
they hope to serve the Lord day and night in harmony and peace."

_Mr. Lewellin._--"And, as we shall mingle together in heaven,
I presume, Sir, we shall _know_ each other _there_. Some pious
Christians entertain doubts on this subject, but as it is one which
has such a tendency to reconcile our minds to the departure of our
friends, I cannot avoid cherishing it with fond attachment."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"Yes, Sir, some good people have their doubts
on the subject; but I wonder how they can entertain them. Even
though on such a subject we receive no light from the testimony of
Scripture, still it is so congenial with the dictates of enlightened
reason, and the warm attachments of pure friendship, that I am at a
loss to conceive how any one can disbelieve it.

    'Deep, deep the love we bear unto the dead!
    Th' adoring reverence that we humbly pay
    To one who is a spirit, still partakes
    Of that affectionate tenderness we own'd
    Towards a being, once, perhaps, as frail
    And human as ourselves.'"

_Mr. Roscoe._--"Nothing, in my opinion, is more calculated to dispel
the fear of death, than a firm belief that we are going home to
dwell in our Father's house along with our departed brethren in
Christ, whom we shall meet and recognize. This thought, which is so
gratifying to our feelings, is supported, I think, by the language
of the New Testament."

_Rev. Mr. Ingleby._--"I think so too. The apostle, when writing
to the Colossians, says, 'That we may present every man perfect
in Christ Jesus;' by which, says Dr. Paley, I understand St. Paul
to express his hope and prayer, that at the general judgment of
the world, he might present the fruits of his ministry perfect
in every good work; and if this be rightly interpreted, then it
affords a manifest and necessary inference that the saints in a
future life will meet and be known again to one another; for how,
without knowing again his converts in their new and glorified state,
could St. Paul desire or expect to present them at the last day?
The celebrated Baxter says, and I think there is much force in the
statement, 'I must confess as the experience of my own soul, that
the expectation of loving my friends in heaven, principally kindles
my love to them on earth. If I thought I should never know them,
and consequently never love them after this life is ended, I should
in reason number them with temporal things, and love them as such;
but I now delightfully converse with my pious friends, in a firm
persuasion that I shall converse with them for ever; and I take
comfort in those of them that are dead, or absent, as believing I
shall shortly meet them in heaven, and love them with a heavenly
love that shall there be perfected.'"

"Then," said Miss Roscoe, "death will merely suspend our intercourse
with our friends for a little while--it will not break it off for
ever. This is a thrilling subject of thought and meditation. We
part, but shall meet again in a purer and happier world, and in a
more glorious form, and then we part no more. We may then hail Death
as a herald of mercy, instead of shrinking from his approach as the
King of Terrors."

_Rev. Mr. Guion._--"Then, when mingling together, if we ever advert
to the scenes of our earthly existence, as we probably shall often
do, we shall rejoice that our union is now complete, unbroken by any
discordant opinion; and, while exulting amidst the unfading glories
of the celestial world, we shall gratefully ascribe our salvation to
the free and discriminating grace of God, our Father and Redeemer."



THE STAGE COACH.


The time had now come for my departure from Fairmount, which I
quitted with much regret, Mr. Lewellin accompanying me as far as
London, where it was arranged that I should stay a few days with
him previous to returning home. Our kind friends were very urgent
in pressing us to remain a little longer; but business required Mr.
Lewellin's immediate attention, and I was getting anxious to resume
my pastoral duties. We left Fairmount in the carriage early in the
morning, and reached the turnpike gate about a quarter of an hour
before the mail came up. There was one outside passenger, and two
inside. Having bidden adieu to Mr. Stevens, who had accompanied
us thus far, we stepped in, heard the well-known signal from
the guard, _All's right!_ and felt ourselves moving towards the
imperial city at a rapid pace. Though I have not, like Lavater,
studied physiognomy, and have often experienced the fallacy of its
conclusions, yet on this occasion, as on most others, I began to
examine and note carefully the features of the two strangers who
sat opposite me. The one was a Friend, who had long since passed
the meridian of life. He was dressed in the neat garb of his order,
had a fine Roman nose, keen blue eyes rather deeply set, and a
countenance whose expression of intelligence and benignity strongly
prepossessed me in his favour. But had his general appearance
been less attractive, I should have felt a profound respect, as
I once had a mother who spoke the plain language, and taught me
to speak it in my younger days; and though in riper years, I left
the denomination of my youth, yet I still revere that interesting
Society of professing Christians. The other was a lusty gentleman,
about the age of fifty, but there was no feature in his face that
gave me any pleasure.

We rode on in silence, till we came to D----s, where we changed
horses; and while we were waiting for the guard, who was detained
at the post office, we amused ourselves in looking at a group of
boys who were playing at trap-ball, in the market-place. The stout
gentleman (whom I shall call Mr. Sykes) said, pointing to the
boys, "There is perfect happiness." As no one offered to make any
reply to this remark, Mr. Lewellin observed, "Perhaps, Sir, their
happiness is not perfect. In the midst of their gambols, and while
feeling elated with the high honour of winning the game, the sudden
recollection of a lesson yet unlearned, that must be said to-morrow,
may perchance give them a pang." This natural remark, expressed
in the most good-natured manner, gave offence to Mr. Sykes, who,
assuming that demeanour of defiance which appeared most natural to
him, said, "And pray, Sir, do you not suppose that the happiness of
childhood is the most perfect happiness which mortals ever enjoy!"
"It ought not to be, Sir," replied my friend in a very modest tone.
"Ought not to be, Sir!" Mr. Sykes returned, with some degree of
sarcastic warmth; "then, Sir, how must you have spent those days
of innocent mirth, not to be able to look back on them with envy!"
This sarcasm roused the spirit of my friend Lewellin, who, though
mild, was not disposed to be run down by unprovoked insolence; and
he said, in a tone somewhat elevated, "Then I presume, Sir, you look
back to the days of your childhood, and sigh over joys departed,
never to return; but permit me to ask, how have you spent the years
of manhood, not to have yet attained the possession of a much more
rational and exalted happiness than you enjoyed when you were flying
a kite or spinning a top? If you think, Sir, that I misimproved
my boyish days, by not acquiring that perfection of happiness
which they generally bring, you force me to conclude that you have
misimproved the years of manhood, if in the decline of life you are
compelled to look back to your childish days, as the happiest you
have ever known."

Mr. Sykes, perceiving, from the smartness of this reply, that he
stood no chance of carrying his point, without assistance, turned
round, and appealed to the Friend, who did not appear to have taken
any interest in the question. "Why, truly," said the Friend, "I
think with my neighbour opposite, that if thou wert more happy when
a boy, than thou art now, thou canst not have improved thy time as
thou oughtest to have done." "Well," said Mr. Sykes, "as this is
the first company in which I have ever heard the sentiment called
in question, I suppose I am along with a class of human beings of
a new order." "Perhaps thou art," rejoined the Friend, "and at any
rate thou must confess, that this new order of human beings, as thou
art pleased to term us, excel all thy former associates in one very
important point." "In what point, Sir?" inquired Mr. Sykes, in his
native tone. "Why in this: while thou and thy friends have outlived
your happiest days, we are now enjoying ours. Hence, while it is to
our advantage to live in a state of manhood, it would have been to
yours, to have continued in a state of childhood."

This remark re-established the reign of silence, which continued
undisturbed, till some children ran out from a few miserable-looking
huts, which stood near the roadside, and followed the coach for a
considerable distance, attempting to excite our generosity, by their
piteous moans, and antic gestures. "There, Sir," said Mr. Sykes,
"If you look out, you will see the picture of perfect happiness."
Our sagacious Friend, who appeared to have high purposes revolving
in his breast when not engaged in conversation, was rather startled
by this observation, as he had not seen the group of juvenile
beggars, by which we were annoyed; but on looking out, as requested,
he shrewdly replied, "I was not aware that perfect happiness was
reduced so low in life, as to become a common beggar." "Poverty,
Sir," said Mr. Sykes, "is no disgrace, and poor people are happy
as well as rich." "Very true," replied the Friend; "but it is a
disgrace to any parents, to train up their children to the practice
of begging. These children certainly look healthy and sprightly, but
if thou wert to be present when they return from an unsuccessful
race, thou wouldest see a picture of perfect sorrow." "Well,"
said Mr. Sykes, "they shall have one happy day," and immediately
tossed out a few halfpence. "Now," said the Friend, "if thou wilt
look back, probably thou wilt see a violent contention between
them; some crying because unable to get the prize, and some
fighting over the division of the spoil." "I suppose, Sir," Mr.
Sykes remarked sarcastically, "no one ever fought over any of your
scattered gifts." "I never saw any," the Friend replied, "as I am
not in the habit of scattering my gifts with an indiscriminate
hand; nor do I approve of those acts, misnamed charitable, which
have an evil tendency." "But, Sir," said Mr. Sykes, "what evil can
result from giving a few pence to some poor miserable-looking boys
and girls?" "Why," replied the Friend, "thou hast seen one evil
in the contention which immediately followed, but this is not the
greatest; these children who are initiated into the begging system
at such an early period of life, are taught the art of deception;
they are thrown off from the resources of industry and frugality,
on the precarious supplies of charity; and if from the influence of
vagrancy, they are not led to thieving, they will never feel any
reluctance to receive support from the parish rate. Charity is a
virtue which we all admire, and which we ought to cultivate; but
I have long thought, that where its bounties are not administered
with discretion, society sustains more injury, than it derives
advantage." "Discretion! O yes, discretion!" said Mr. Sykes, "is
a great virtue; with Sir John Falstaff it is the better part of
valour, with you of charity; but in my opinion it is more frequently
an apology for cowardice, or for covetousness."

[Illustration: JAMES GODWIN. W. L. THOMAS.

MISTAKEN CHARITY.--MR. SYKES' THEORY REFUTED.

Vol. ii. p. 55.]

We soon after parted with Mr. Sykes, when our sage Friend addressing
himself to Mr. Lewellin, said, "I have no doubt but the passenger
who has just left us has some excellencies, but he does not excel
in the art of rendering himself agreeable, an art which few learn,
and fewer practise; but it is one of great importance to personal
dignity and relative comfort."

His place in the coach was soon occupied by a young man in a
red coat, who was going to a fox-hunt near M----. He was very
loquacious, but his conversation turned principally on horses, and
dogs, and game, and the various qualifications of a good shot.
Mr. Lewellin made several efforts to introduce other topics, but
he could not succeed, as no pointer ever stood truer to his bird,
than he did to his favourite theme. He told us of his hair-breadth
escapes, of the fatigues which he had endured, and the feats which
he had achieved, with as much glee as the huntsman throws off at
a chase; and dwelt with peculiar delight on his good fortune the
preceding day, when out of twenty-five who started, he was the
only one _in at the death_, and exhibited the _brush_ as the proud
memorial of his honour. After he had told and re-told his tales,
which gave no one pleasure but himself, he fell into a dead silence,
hummed "Old Towler," and commenced beating a sort of tattoo with
his fingers on the coach window. At length, turning himself to
the Friend who sat by his side, and whose patriarchal simplicity
appeared to amuse him, he said, with an air of low satire, "I
believe, Sir, your sect are not much given to such sports?" "Why,
no," replied the Friend, "we have too much humanity, to attempt
to extract pleasure from the sports which inflict torture on dumb
animals." "I have read," said the sportsman, "all your objections;
but, Sir, they have no point--they don't hit the mark--nature
points to game, and we are to follow. I love the sound of the horn,
more than the silence of meditation." "I have no doubt," said the
Friend, "that thou dost, but thou shouldst remember, that some
prefer silence, to noise." "I take you, Sir; you intend to say,
that you would rather have silence, than my conversation." "I have
no objection," the Friend replied, "to conversation, when it is
interesting or profitable, but thou must be aware, that the present
company take no interest in the detail of thy field achievements."
"Well, Sir," said the sportsman, "I have no objection to turn the
conversation to a graver subject; and as I am a young man, just
beginning to turn my attention to religion, you will permit me to
ask you one question, which puzzles me. It is this, Sir: As we have
so many religions in this kingdom, which is the best?" "Why," said
the Friend, "that which makes the simple wise, and teaches young men
to cultivate the grace of modesty." "Very smart, Sir: then you think
such a religion would do me good?" "I think it would."

When the sportsman left us, his place was immediately occupied by
a gentleman who, as I afterwards learned, had lately returned to
England, after an absence of many years. He was an interesting and
intelligent looking man; and I flattered myself from his general
appearance, that we should have agreeable society during the rest
of our journey. Nor was I disappointed. He was rather reserved
at first, but after Mr. Lewellin and I had engaged for some time
in a desultory conversation, he fell in with us, and willingly
contributed his share. There is a strong propensity in some minds
to sacrifice truth, in narration and description, especially when
relating their own adventures. They will not utter direct and
palpable falsehood, but they are so accustomed to exaggeration
and high colouring, that a man who respects his own reputation
will never venture to repeat their statements. Their design is to
produce _effect_, and hence they often leave the beaten path of
sober truth to amuse or astonish their hearers with the fanciful
or the extravagant. But nothing of this kind was visible in our
companion; as he gave us no description of persons, of places, or of
things, which staggered our belief. He had sailed on the boisterous
sea, without having just escaped the horrors of shipwreck; he had
passed through woods and mountains, without encountering brigands
or assassins; he had resided in crowded cities, and had traversed
lonely wastes, where he met with no flattering attentions from the
great, or rude insults from the vulgar. He had travelled through the
greater part of Europe, had visited the East and West Indies, and
had spent the last two years in America: but intended now to fix his
abode in his native country, where he said he hoped to rest in the
same grave with his fathers.

"You have seen, Sir," I remarked, "a great part of the world; but as
you intend to fix your final residence in Old England, I take for
granted that you have not discovered any country which rivals her in
your estimation."

"No, Sir," he replied, "I have not. I love England--I love her
changing seasons, and her fruitful soil--her fine national
character--her political constitution, and that spirit of liberty,
both civil and religious, which she cherishes and which she
diffuses--I love everything that is English; and I disown the
Briton who is not enthusiastic in the praise of his country."

"The love of liberty," I remarked, "is a passion which gives a
peculiar and powerful energy to our national character; but you must
confess, Sir, that this passion is not exclusively ours. America
cherishes it with an equal degree of ardour."

"Yes, Sir," he replied, "she does, but her love of liberty is a
selfish passion. She has fought for her own freedom, and she has
won the laurels, but she continues to enslave others. When the
foot of a poor captive touches the soil of Britain, his chains
burst from around him; his life is taken under the protection of
the law; no one can insult him with impunity; he is as safe in his
hut, as the lordly baron is within the walls of his castle. But in
the United States of America, there are upwards of three millions
of human beings, now living in a state of slavery, bought and sold
like cattle--subjected to the cruelty of men, in whose bosoms
every atom of humanity has long since been annihilated. What, Sir,
is freedom, where all are not free--where the greatest of God's
blessings is limited with impious caprice to the colour of the skin?
Having bled at every pore, rather than submit to wear the yoke of
a foreign authority, why does she not, amid all her prosperity
and improvement, act a just and generous part towards her black
population? She is worse than the chief butler of Pharaoh, who, when
he had gained his freedom, merely forgot his fellow-prisoner: but
she remembers those who were once in bondage with her, and rivets
the chains of slavery still closer upon them. She may vaunt herself
on the love of liberty, and on her rising greatness in the scale of
nations; but as long as the groans of three millions of human beings
resound through her land without obtaining redress, she will have
a badge of infamy affixed to her national character, from which no
virtues will ever redeem her. We did a noble deed when we abolished
the slave-trade, but we did a still nobler deed when we abolished
slavery. We have thus set America a good example, which, in spite of
all opposition, she will some day follow."

We were very much pleased with the polite manners and the
interesting conversation of this gentleman, who formed a striking
contrast to our other coach companions. On taking leave of him at
the Swan with two Necks, we exchanged cards, when we found that the
stranger's name was Wilcox, and he exacted a promise from me that I
would call and see him before I left London.

A few days after this, as I sat in Mr. Lewellin's front parlour
listening to the strange cries of London, and observing the
countenances of the numerous pedestrians, who, with hurried steps,
passed to and fro, as though each was intent on some great purpose,
I saw the postman at the door, who brought me a letter, which
on opening I found to be from our interesting fellow-traveller,
requesting that we would dine with him on the following day. We
accepted the invitation, and spent a very pleasant evening together.

On this occasion Mr. Wilcox informed us that he had been pressed
to sign a petition for the repeal of the Maynooth grant; but had
declined doing so, because he knew nothing about its origin, or the
reasons which induced the government to make it; adding that, as a
general rule, he thought America acted more wisely than we do on all
such questions; she repudiates a _state religion_, and therefore
leaves every religious sect to act and provide for itself. I then
gave him a brief history of the matter as follows:--On the 14th of
January, 1794, the Roman Catholics of Ireland presented a memorial
to the government, praying for permission to erect a college for
the education of their priests, who, up to this time, had been
compelled to get their education in foreign countries; stating in
their memorial, that they were both able and willing to build the
college, and defray its current expenditure at their own expense.
Their prayer was granted: and to their astonishment the Irish
Parliament voted a grant of £8000 per annum towards its support,
which in the year 1807 was increased to £13,000. No pledge was given
that it should be a permanent grant, and as a proof of this, in the
year 1799 it was withheld altogether, and during that year they
were compelled to do what they said, when they declared that they
were able and willing to defray its expenses by their own voluntary
contributions.[9]

  [9] In 1845 Sir Robert Peel introduced a measure, and carried it, to
  increase this grant to nearly £30,000 a-year.

"It seems somewhat strange," said Mr. Wilcox, "that the government
should vote a large sum of money, when they are told that it
is neither expected nor needed. To account for such an act of
profligate expenditure, we must suppose there was a strong
undercurrent of political influence forcing them to do so."

"Why, Sir, the fact is, that Ireland was at this time, and for
a long time after, in a strongly excited state; one outburst
of popular tumult succeeded another, with so much rapidity and
violence, that our leading statesmen, both Whigs and Tories,
became alarmed, and they hit upon the expedient of attempting to
conciliate the priests, by proposing to take their church into union
with the state, and thus render them independent of the voluntary
contributions of their people; and this munificent generosity in
behalf of the Maynooth College, was the gilded bait of allurement.
However, that projected union is now abandoned as a Utopian vagary;
for the Roman Catholics disdain to come into ecclesiastical
fellowship with Protestants, and therefore common sense requires,
that as they are resolved to stand by themselves, they should be
left to do what they said they were able and willing to do--educate
and support their clergy by their own contributions."

"I think the principle is bad," said Mr. Wilcox, "both politically
and morally, which compels one sect to educate and support the
clergy of another sect. There is an outrage committed on the
conscience of an enlightened Protestant, if he be compelled to
contribute to the education and support of the Roman Catholic
clergy, not simply because they are the ministers of another church,
but because they are ministers who, in his estimation, reject the
essential doctrines of Christianity, and substitute in their place,
dangerous and fatal heresies; and not only so, but he believes, and
their past history confirms him in the belief, that they constitute
the vital, the most active, and the most unscrupulous part of an
organized conspiracy, whose object is to extinguish both civil and
religious liberty throughout the world."

"Toleration," said Mr. Lewellin, "is all that such a dangerous set
of men ought to receive under a Protestant government, and to that I
should not object; but it is an act of legalized injustice to compel
me to pay for the training and comfortable support of Roman Catholic
priests."

Mr. Wilcox remarked, "We don't punish the footpad till he has
committed his crime; but we should deem the wealthy traveller
a maniac at large, who would voluntarily contribute towards
the training of such desperadoes. I will certainly, now that I
understand the matter, sign for the repeal of the grant, and do
all in my power to hasten it. Indeed, I would not give my vote to
any parliamentary candidate, unless he pledged himself against the
continuance of this very obnoxious grant."

"My attachment to Christianity," said Mr. Lewellin, "makes me revolt
against this offensive grant, as my loyalty to our queen would make
me abhor a proposition to contribute to the training of traitors, to
subvert her throne and bring her to the block."[10]

  [10] When Lord John Russell was speaking in favour of the measure
  brought before the house by Sir Robert Peel in 1845, to increase
  the grant to nearly £30,000 per annum, he said--"But if you found
  you were doing that which was mischievous to the community, and
  that the religious scruples of the community would not allow of the
  continuance of the grant, or, with reference to civil and political
  reasons, you found that those you meant to be teachers of religion
  had become the teachers and conductors of rebellion; if I say," his
  lordship added, "you found from any of these causes that there was
  ground sufficient to refuse this grant, then I can see no valid
  reasons why any compact should restrain you, or why, upon strong
  grounds of this kind, the house would not be justified in declaring
  that it would give no further allowance." (See Hansard's _Debates_,
  v. 3, p. 92, session 1845.) The Right Hon. William Gladstone, M.P.,
  recorded his opinion of this grant, before Sir Robert Peel brought
  forward his measure in 1845. "In principle the grant is wholly
  vicious, and it will be a thorn in the side of these countries as
  long as it is continued." There are several reasons, which, in the
  judgment of Lord John Russell, would justify the discontinuance
  of this grant, without subjecting our government to the charge of
  violating any existing compact; but I merely mention the following,
  which I give from the speech of his lordship: if "_the religious
  scruples of the community would not allow of the continuance of
  it_." Now let us see how the case actually stands, and then we shall
  be able to form a correct judgment of what the British government
  and we ourselves ought to do. It is an undisputed fact, that the
  measure of 1845 was forced through parliament in direct opposition
  to the most unequivocal expression of hostility on the part of the
  religious community, of all denominations; and their hostility to
  its continuance is increasing in inveteracy and strength as time
  moves on in its course. I am at a loss to conceive how any one
  except a Roman Catholic who has a beneficial interest in this money
  grant, or a lukewarm Protestant, who cares no more for the spiritual
  religion of the New Testament than he does for the legendary
  tales of Popery, can come forward as its advocate and supporter.
  The Catholics say they are able and willing to support their own
  religion and its institutions. Let them do so; but do not compel us
  to work with them, when we believe that their religion, with its
  institutions, is the greatest curse that ever has been inflicted on
  man since the Fall; and when we believe that its clergy, if they had
  the power, would immediately establish the Inquisition amongst us,
  and at once consign us to torture and to death, if we refused to bow
  down and to do homage to their pontiff and his myrmidons.



A SABBATH IN LONDON.


In the institution of the Christian ministry, we have one of the
most salutary provisions ever made to promote the improvement and
happiness of man. If we suppose, with the enemies of Christianity,
that it is of human origin, and that its functions are discharged by
human agents, who are actuated and governed by selfish or ambitious
motives, still it will occupy, in the estimation of every wise man,
a high station, as a powerful ally to the cause of patriotism and
of virtue. It enjoins on the various ranks and orders of society
submission to the powers that be, and reverence for God; and it
explains and enforces, with the utmost precision, our relative
duties towards each other; while the veneration in which it is
generally held in this kingdom is favourable to its influence. To
say that every one is strictly virtuous who listens to its maxims
of wisdom, would be to advance an assertion which facts would
contradict; but if we judge from the present state of society, we
shall be compelled to admit that there is a larger portion of virtue
amongst those who attend upon a stated ministry, than among those
who treat it with neglect and scorn. Hence its abolition would be a
national evil, as disastrous to our moral improvement and happiness,
as the triumphs of political anarchy would be to the well-balanced
constitution of the British Empire.

But even this institution, with all its advantages, would prove
comparatively useless were it not for the appointment of the
Christian Sabbath; for such is the ascendency which the cares,
the pleasures, the fascinations, and the commerce of the world
have acquired over the public mind, that very few would have an
opportunity to benefit by it, unless some specific portion of time
was set apart for this express purpose. If the husbandman were
compelled to toil in the field, and the mechanic to labour in the
shop--if the tradesman, the merchant, and the other members of the
community had to devote themselves to their respective avocations
without any intermission, except what caprice or indolence might
dictate, the minister of the gospel might faithfully proclaim all
the words which relate to the life to come, but he would not be
surrounded by a large and an attentive audience. The temple would
be forsaken, and the powers of _this_ world would so engross the
attention of men, that those of the next would be generally, if not
universally disregarded. To prevent this fatal evil, one day in
seven is set apart, by the immediate authority of God, which we are
commanded to devote to the exercises of private and public worship;
but alas! how many treat this sacred injunction with contempt. Some
in the higher ranks of life, who disdain to be thought religious,
employ it as a day for travelling or for feasting; and multitudes
of the lower orders, regard it as a day either for pleasure or for
dissipation.

On the Sabbath after my arrival in London, as I was walking down
Bridge Street on my way to Surrey Chapel, I saw a party of young
people whose gaiety of manner ill accorded with the sanctity of
the day, and just as I was passing them I heard one say, "Indeed I
think we shall do wrong; my conscience condemns me; I must return."
"There can be no harm," replied another, "in taking an excursion on
the water, especially as we intend to go to chapel in the evening."
"I must return," rejoined a female voice; "my conscience condemns
me. What will father say if he hears of it?" By this time they had
reached the bridge, and the foremost of the party was busily engaged
with a waterman, while the rest stood in close debate for some
minutes, when they all moved forward towards the water.

I watched the party as they went down the stairs to the river.
Two of the gentlemen stepped into the boat, two more stood at the
water's edge, and the females were handed in one after another; but
I could perceive great reluctance on the part of the one who had
previously objected, till at length she yielded to the importunities
of her companions, and the boat was pushed off. It was a fine
morning, though rather cold. Many, like myself, were gazing on
them, when a naval officer called to them through the balustrades
and said, "A pleasant voyage to you." One of the gentlemen arose
to return the compliment, but, from some cause which I could not
perceive, he missed his footing and fell into the water. This
disaster threw the whole party into the utmost consternation; and
each one, instead of retaining his seat, rushed to the side of the
boat over which their companion had fallen, by which the boat was
upset, and all were instantaneously plunged into the river. The
scene which followed, when the spectators beheld this calamity,
exceeded any I had ever witnessed. Some females screamed, the
passers-by crowded together to the parapet of the bridge, and
everything was bustle and excitement; boats immediately put off;
and in a few minutes I had the satisfaction of seeing the watermen
rescue one, and another, and another from a premature grave. Having
picked up every one they could find, the different boats were rowed
to shore, where some medical gentlemen were in waiting. But when the
party met together, no language can describe the horror depicted on
every countenance when they found that two were still missing.

"Where's my sister?" said the voice which had said, only a few
minutes before, "There can be no harm in taking an excursion on the
water, especially as we intend to go to chapel in the evening."

"Where's Charles?" said a female, who had appeared the most gay and
sprightly when I first saw them.

At length two boats, which had gone a considerable distance up
the river, were seen returning; and on being asked if they had
picked up any one, they replied, "Yes; two." This reply electrified
the whole party, and some wept for joy.

[Illustration: SABBATH PLEASURE SEEKERS.

Vol. ii. page 64.]

"Here's a gentleman," said a waterman as he was coming up to the
foot of the stairs, "but I suspect he's dead."

"Where's the lady?" said her brother, "Is she safe?"

"She is in the other boat, Sir."

"Is she alive?--Has she spoken?"

"No, Sir, she has not spoken, I believe."

"Is she dead; O tell me!"

"I fear she is, Sir."

The bodies were immediately removed from the boats to a house in
the vicinity, and every effort was employed to restore animation.
In little more than ten minutes it was announced that the gentleman
began to breathe, but there was no allusion made to the lady. Her
brother sat motionless, absorbed in the deepest melancholy, till the
actual decease of his sister was announced, when he started up and
became almost frantic with grief; and though his companions tried to
comfort him, yet he refused to hear the words of consolation.

"O my sister! my sister! Would to God I had died for her!"

They were all overwhelmed in trouble, and knew not what to do. "Who
will bear the heavy tidings to our father?" said the brother, who
paced the room backwards and forwards. "O! who will bear the heavy
tidings to our father?" He paused; a death-like silence pervaded the
whole apartment. He again burst forth in the agonies of despair--"I
forced her to go against the dictates of her conscience; I am her
murderer; I ought to have perished, and not my sister. Who will bear
the heavy tidings to our father?"

"I will," said a gentleman, who had been unremitting in his
attentions to the sufferers.

"Do you know him, Sir?"

"Yes, I know him."

"O! how can I ever appear in his presence! I enticed my only sister
to an act of disobedience, which has destroyed her!"

How the father received the intelligence, or what moral effect
resulted from the disaster, I never heard, but it suggests a few
reflections which I wish to press upon the attention of my readers.
As the Sabbath is instituted for the purpose of promoting your moral
improvement and happiness, never devote its sacred hours to pleasure
and recreations. He who has commanded you to keep it holy, will not
suffer you to profane it with impunity. He may not bring down upon
you the awful expressions of his displeasure while you are in the
act of setting his authority at open defiance, but there is a day
approaching when you must stand before him as your judge. And can
you anticipate the solemnities of that day, while continuing in a
course of sin, with any other than the most fearful apprehensions?
You may, like many, suppose that that day is very far off; but you
may be undeceived by a sudden visitation of Providence; and in a
moment may be removed from amongst your gay companions, to appear in
his presence. And should this be the case, with what terror-struck
amazement will you look on the awful scene around you; with what
fearful and agonizing emotions will you listen to the final
sentence--_Depart!_

Resist the _first_ temptation to evil, or your ruin may be the
inevitable consequence. "Indeed I think we shall do wrong; my
conscience condemns me; I must return," said the unfortunate girl,
when she got near the river; but having yielded to the first
temptation, she was induced to overcome her scruples, and within
less than half an hour from that time she was hurried into the
eternal world. Had she refused when her brother solicited her to
leave home, she might have lived to comfort her father in his old
age; but by complying, she first lost her strength to withstand
temptation, and then her life. What a warning! And is this the only
one which the history of crime has given you? Alas, no! Have not
many, who have ended their days on the scaffold, traced their ruin
to the profanation of the Sabbath? This is the day in which the
spirits of evil are abroad, enticing the young and the thoughtless
to vice and impiety; and if you wish to avoid the misery and
degradation in which others have been involved, devote its sacred
hours to the purpose for which they were appointed. Attend some
place of worship, where the truths of the Bible are preached with
earnestness and power, and attend regularly; and though some of your
associates may ridicule you for your habits of devotion, yet will
you suffer yourself to be conquered by such weapons? The youth who
regularly attends a place of worship on the Sabbath, and receives
the truth under a deep conviction of its excellence and importance,
often enjoys a high mental feast, and becomes imperceptibly
fortified to resist the fascinations of the world; but he who spends
the sacred hours in the society of the thoughtless, amidst scenes
of gaiety and dissipation, becomes an easy prey to the worst of
temptations, often retires to rest reproaching himself for his folly
and impiety, and is gradually led from one crime to another till
iniquity proves his ruin.

       *       *       *       *       *

As I wished to hear a celebrated preacher in the evening, I
asked Mr. Lewellin to accompany me, but he declined, for reasons
which raised him in my estimation as a young man of prudence and
consistency. "I am, Sir," he observed, "decidedly of opinion that
London offers many temptations to professors of religion which
require, on their part, constant vigilance to withstand; and one of
the most specious is, the celebrity of popular preachers."

"But," I replied, "do you think it wrong to go and hear these
ministers?"

"I would be cautious how I censured any one; but I certainly think
that the love of novelty in religion often proves pernicious, not
only to those who are enslaved by it, but to their families. Let me
suppose a case. Here is a religious family who professedly attend
the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Watkins, but the father is in the
habit of hearing every celebrated preacher. Will not this roving
disposition prevent his forming that attachment towards a pastor and
his flock in which the essence of Christian fellowship consists? And
will not the influence of his example have an injurious effect on
his children? If he take them with him, he imperceptibly teaches
them to believe that he is not so much delighted with the truth
as with the agent who conveys it. And what is this but sinking
the importance and value of the truth in the estimation of those
whose hearts are naturally averse to it. If he refuse to take them
with him, and compel them to go, while they are young, to their
regular place of worship, yet, as he does not go with them, they
are left without the controlling influence of his presence, and
are exposed to the temptation of absenting themselves for some
scene of amusement. If he leave his more stated minister to go
after these popular preachers, unless he has a greater measure of
prudence than such roving professors generally possess, he will
institute comparisons in the presence of his children between them
and the settled pastor. And will not this excite prejudice in their
minds against the clergyman whose ministry they are _forced_ to
attend? Will not this prove injurious to them? Will not this tend
to alienate their minds from the love of the truth, and to make
them regard its accidental associations as the main thing; and by
teaching them disrespect for their stated minister, they may, in
time, turn away contemptuously from the message he delivers. And
these are not the only evils which result from the indulgence of
this roving disposition; it is invariably found no less injurious to
the private reputation of a Christian, than to his domestic piety."

"But how so?" I replied. "What injury can it do the private
reputation of a Christian?"

"Why, he will be regarded as an unstable man; and though he may have
many virtues, yet if this imperfection be associated with them it
will materially injure him. For what influence can an unstable man
ever acquire, unless it be the power of doing evil? Who can respect
him? Who can place any dependence on him?"

"But," I asked, "may not a Christian leave the ministry of one
preacher, to attend that of another, without sustaining or producing
any moral injury?"

"Most certainly," said Mr. Lewellin; "we are at perfect liberty to
go where we please, and to hear whom we please; but we should avoid
that fickleness of disposition, which is ever moving from one place
to another. Some admire the last preacher they have heard more than
any preceding one, and have the censer always ready to throw the
incense of flattery around the _next_ who may make his appearance.
Instead of examining themselves, to see what progress they make in
knowledge and in grace, and attending to the religious instruction
of their children and their servants on the Sabbath, they are ever
asking, Who is in town? or, Who is expected? But though I condemn
most decidedly such a volatile spirit amongst professors, yet I
think we _ought_ to attend that ministry which we find the most
profitable. _The truth which we hear is Divine, but the agent
who preaches it is human_; and though the tone and the manner of
proclaiming it will not add to its importance, yet it may tend to
give it a more commanding power of impression; and hence, it is both
our duty and our privilege to attend the ministry of that man, whose
style of preaching is the most calculated to profit us. The poet in
speaking of government, has said,

  'Whate'er is best administered is best.'

The same may be nearly said with regard to sermons. There is not
such a great difference between the thoughts and arrangements of
one preacher and another as some imagine. But who has not been
struck with the difference of the impression and effect? One man
shall speak, and how dry, and sapless, and uninteresting is he! Let
another deliver the very same things, and there is a savour that
gives them freshness--the things seem perfectly new. One preacher,
by his monotonous tones and manner, soon lulls us to sleep; while
another, by his earnestness, his pathos, and his impassioned
appeals--by the aptness of his illustrations, the chasteness of his
style, and the unction of his spirit--not only fixes our attention,
but penetrates the inner man of the heart; we feel ourselves
subdued, enlightened, and powerfully excited by the Word of God.
When a man of this attractive order appears in the pulpit, by the
mysterious action of the sympathetic faculty, his presence is felt
by the people, even before his voice is heard; and in the lines of
Cowper we see a great moral fact, clothed in the vestments of poetic
beauty:--

    'When one that holds communion with the skies
    Has filled his urn where these pure waters rise,
    And once more mingles with us meaner things,
    'Tis e'en as if an angel shook his wings--
    Immortal fragrance fills the circuit wide,
    That tells us whence _his_ treasures are supplied.
    So when a ship well freighted with the stores
    The sun matures on India's spicy shores,
    Has dropp'd her anchor and her canvas furl'd
    In some safe haven of our western world,
    'Twere vain inquiring to what port she _went_--
    The _gale_ informs us, laden with the scent.'"

"But, Sir," I remarked, "if we do not derive improvement and
consolation from the ministry on which we generally attend, we ought
to attribute it to some fault in ourselves. I remember being very
much struck with a remark which I heard a venerable clergyman make
when addressing his congregation--'If, my brethren,' he said, 'you
come to hear _me preach_, instead of hearing _the truth_ which I
deliver, be not surprised if you are permitted to go away without
having felt its purifying and consoling influence. I can do no more
than give utterance to the sublime doctrines and promises of the
gospel; it is the province of my Master to make them effectual to
your salvation; and if you neglect by strong and ardent prayer to
implore his blessing, he will withhold it.'"

"A very just and important remark," replied Mr. Lewellin, "and one
which I hope we shall never forget. We ought at all times to go into
the temple in a devotional spirit, and to remember that as every
good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down
from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither
shadow of turning, we should, in the most humble manner, invoke his
presence; and then we shall feel less disposed to rove and less
occasion to complain of the want of spiritual enjoyment."

We were now interrupted in our conversation, by the servant, who
informed Mr. Lewellin that there were two gentlemen below who
wished to see him. "Desire them to walk up. I am not aware," said
Mr. Lewellin, "who they are; and I regret their call, as I am not
in the habit of receiving company on the Sabbath." They entered the
room, and after offering an apology for this act of intrusion, one
said, "I know, Sir, you will excuse it, as I have made up my mind
to go with you to chapel this evening, along with our friend Mr.
Newton."

I did not immediately recollect this gentleman, though his manners
and voice seemed familiar to me; but on hearing his name, I
instantaneously recognized Mr. Gordon, whom I once met in the
country[11] when enjoying an evening's ramble. "I am happy to see
you, Sir" (addressing him), "as it gives me an opportunity of
reminding you of a promise which you have not yet redeemed."

  [11] See vol. i. page 94.

"Indeed, Sir! You have the advantage of me. Did I ever make you a
promise, which I have not redeemed?"

"Yes, Sir, indeed you have done so."

"Where, and when, Sir, may I ask?"

"Were you never in a thunder-storm?"

"I beg your pardon. I hope you are well. I am happy to see you in
London. I hope you will do me the honour of a call.--Why, no. I have
not been able to inform you of the result of my inquiry; for, to be
very candid, I have been too much engaged to turn my attention to
it; but I have not forgotten it.--What a storm! How did you escape
it? I took shelter in a cow-shed."

"I ran to a cottage, where I was kindly received, and in which I
witnessed a deeply interesting sight. I regretted you were not
with me, as I there saw an evidence in favour of the truth and the
excellence of the gospel, which I think you would have admired."

"Indeed! what visible evidence do you refer to? A miracle?"

"If we define a miracle to be something above the production of
human power, I should not hesitate to call what I saw a moral
miracle." I then gave an account of the decease of the woodman's
child, which he called a very interesting tale; but said he was
not sufficiently enlightened to perceive how such a fact tended
in any way to establish the truth or display the excellence of
Christianity. "We may," he remarked, "have an opportunity to debate
over it before you leave our great city; but, as we propose going
to chapel this evening, perhaps we had better not begin, lest
we should be obliged to break off the thread of our argument at
an unfavourable point. But, though I have not investigated the
important question which we discussed when we accidentally met,
yet I will do it. You see the company which I keep (pointing to
Mr. Lewellin and Mr. Newton) is a proof that I am _religiously
inclined_; and, if a few doubts should still darken my powers of
mental vision, yet the light which emanates from their chaste
reasoning may ultimately disperse them, and we all _may_ become
believers together."

"A consummation I should hail with delight."

"I believe you, Sir; and I honour the motive which prompts such a
devout exclamation."

       *       *       *       *       *

On passing along Cheapside on our way to the chapel which Mr.
Lewellin usually attended, we were astonished at seeing a placard,
announcing that the Rev. Mr. Guion was to preach that evening at
Bow Church, in behalf of the Church Missionary Society; and at my
earnest entreaty, we decided on hearing him. By a statement he made
at the commencement of his discourse, we found his appearance in
the pulpit was in consequence of the sudden illness of a brother
clergyman who stood engaged to preach on the occasion; and this
accounted for our not hearing of this London visit when we were with
him at Fairmount. Having my note-book in my pocket, and my pencils
in good working order, I took down his sermon, and will transcribe
from my manuscript a few passages, which, when delivered, made a
deep impression on the whole congregation. His text was taken from
1 Tim. iii. 16, "And without controversy great is the mystery of
godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the
world, received up into glory." His arguments in confirmation of
the divinity of Jesus Christ were few, but popular and conclusive,
yet not common-place.

"HE WAS SEEN OF ANGELS."--"Our knowledge," said the eloquent
preacher, "of angels is very superficial; yet we know, they are
beings of a superior order--holy, intelligent, powerful, and
benevolent. Jesus Christ was seen of them, at his birth, during
his temptation in the wilderness, when enduring the agonizing
conflict in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the morning of his
resurrection; and they came to witness, and to take a ministering
part in his ascension, when he went to resume the glory which he
had with the Father before the world was. This SEEING him, denotes
the intense interest they felt in his personal honour, and in the
design of his mission to earth. 'Which things,' says the apostle
Peter--that is the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should
follow--'the angels desire to look into.' They pry into and labour
to comprehend the grand theory of human redemption; and watch
with intense solicitude its practical working in the soul of man.
Hence, our Lord says, 'There is joy in the presence of the angels
of God over one sinner that repenteth.' Yes, brethren, these pure
and exalted spirits become comparatively insensible to the glories
of the celestial world, when in the act of seeing a sinner who is
ready to perish, rescued from the fearful peril of his condition,
as we should become comparatively, if not absolutely insensible
to the grandest and most picturesque scenery of nature, if we
stood on some eminence, gazing on the heroine coming out of her
father's cottage, hastening to the frothy beach, springing into the
fishing-boat, braving the fury of the tempest and the wild uproar
of the storm, to rescue the shipwrecked mariners from a vessel
sinking in the deep waters. For it is a law of their nature, no
less than of ours, that gratification shall yield to sympathy, and
that the sight of deliverance from fatal danger, shall have a more
gratifying effect on a sensitive and benevolent heart, than the
most brilliant and exciting scenes which can be presented to the
imagination, or to the senses;--thus demonstrating by a process
as certain as any undeviating law of the material economy, that
every order of being, except infernal spirits, have an instinctive
abhorrence of the disastrous crisis in the progress of suffering;
and that they feel an ecstasy of emotion which no sights of grandeur
or of beauty, and which no sounds of melody can excite, when they
behold an unanticipated deliverance from some horrifying and fatal
termination. There stands the poor criminal on the fatal platform,
and the minister of death is near him, making the necessary
arrangements for his execution; deep sympathy is expressed in every
countenance, many sighs are heaved, and many weep; the silent prayer
is offered up, and all are breathless, expecting the drop to fall
which is to hurl him with convulsive agonies into the other world.
But there is a momentary pause, as an act of homage to a stranger,
who very unexpectedly makes his appearance. This stranger, to whom
all the officials and the doomed man pay marked attention, is
also an official armed with power, not the power of death, but of
life; he is the herald of mercy; and with a loud voice proclaims
his pardon. The multitude, long absorbed in sympathetic grief, now
raise the shout of gladsome triumph, as they gaze on the once doomed
man, as he passes from the death of agony and infamy, to newness
of life; they revel in the excess of ecstatic bliss; and feel more
joyful in spirit over this one criminal saved from the horrors of an
ignominious death, than over a whole community of righteous persons
who were never involved in a sentence of condemnation.

"HE WAS BELIEVED ON IN THE WORLD."--"The testimony of the Bible,
and the records of ecclesiastical history, attest this fact,
Rev. vii. 9, 10; _and he is still believed on in the world_. I
know, brethren, that many persons of refined taste, and exquisite
delicacy of feeling, greatly admire the character of Jesus of
Nazareth, the Son of Joseph and of Mary; and they feel a deep
interest in the perusal of his history. Their imagination expands
in reflecting on that magnificent scene beheld by the shepherds
of Bethlehem, when his birth was announced by the angel of the
Lord. His healing the sick in the temple--his opening the eyes
of blind Bartimeus--and his raising the only son of the widow
as the procession was moving to the grave, has a fine effect on
their sensibilities. The Transfiguration of Tabor sheds a halo of
glory around his Divine form, which attracts and gratifies their
love of the marvellous. They catch the inspiration of a powerful
sympathy on seeing him bathed in tears, as he stands beholding in
the distant vision the desolations coming on the city of Jerusalem.
And when they gather around his cross, they feel intense regret,
intermingled with no slight degree of astonishment, that one so
kind, so humane, and withal such a friend to suffering humanity,
should be so rudely and so cruelly treated, and the falling tear
bespeaks the sorrow of their heart. Now go amongst these refined,
these poetic, these sentimental believers in the Divine origin
of the Christian faith, with the blood of atonement, and what
consternation will you produce! They will soon evince a strange
revulsion of feeling; the term itself is harsh and unintelligible;
it is the jargon of the uncouth and the vulgar; the crucifix
charms their sentimentalism--they abhor the cross. Go and talk to
them about the necessity of believing in the Son of God to save
them from perishing; go and talk to them about joy and peace in
believing, and about the good hope through grace, and you will
soon lose caste, and be sent adrift amongst the wild fanatics of
the age. They will bow down and do homage to the Divine origin of
Christianity--that ideal Christianity, which takes its nature,
shape, and hue from the creations of their fancy; but let the
Christianity of the New Testament come before them in her simple
form--pure and spiritual, breathing her own spirit, speaking her
own language, delivering her own precepts and her own promises,
advancing her own claims, and offering her own celestial gifts, on
her own humiliating and changeless conditions, and they will treat
her, as the Jews did her illustrious Author, with contemptuous
scorn; and would rather have her driven from the face of the earth,
than be enrolled as her devotees, or retained as her advocates. Be
it so. But this you regret, on _their account_, as you know that
they who believe not, will die in their sins and perish for ever,
even though superior intelligence be blended with the fascination
of the most distinguished accomplishments. And you also regret this
terrible calamity on your _own account_, as the pardoned criminal
necessarily feels an abatement of his joy when set free, by knowing
that others are left for execution. But you, Christian brethren,
believe on Him, and have the witness within. You believe on Him, and
love Him; and to you he is precious. You believe on Him, and know
that all is safe for time, safe in death, and safe for eternity."

"Really," said Mr. Gordon, as we were walking away, "I am almost
tempted to believe in the truth of the Christian theory, on two
accounts--it brings us into such close contact with beings of a
superior order, so that in passing into the invisible world, we
shall find that we are known there; and then it gives such security
to the mind against the horrors of death." A sudden storm of heavy
rain prevented any reply to these half-serious, half-ironical
remarks; but on taking leave, as we were getting into our separate
hackney coaches, he added, "I will call to-morrow evening, after
business hours, and chat over those grave questions; and perhaps I
can prevail on Newton to accompany me. Have patience; I may become a
believer in the course of time."



THE SCEPTIC'S VISIT.


Just after Mr. Lewellin had left home, to meet a friend on a matter
of business, Mr. Gordon called, agreeably to his promise on the
previous day, and we spent the evening together.

"I had a lucky escape yesterday," said Mr. Gordon, "but I did not
know of it till I took up the _Times_ this morning."

"From what did you escape, Sir?"

"I had an engagement, for yesterday morning, to go with a pleasure
party on an excursion up the river, but I over-slept myself; and it
was well for me that I did so, for the boat upset, and I regret
to say that a very excellent and accomplished lady, whom I much
admired, was drowned."

"As I was passing Blackfriars' Bridge, in going to Surrey Chapel, I
witnessed an accident such as that to which you refer."

"Indeed! It no doubt was the same, for it was just as they were
setting out from Blackfriars' stairs that the disaster happened; it
must have been an appalling sight!"

"It was, indeed, a harrowing sight; and I trust I shall never
witness the like again. I heard that the lady who was drowned was a
very interesting creature, and the only daughter of a pious father.
The tidings of her loss must have been a sad blow to him."

"Yes, Sir, her father is one of your way of thinking, and I believe
him to be a very worthy man."

"Have you seen him since the fatal accident?"

"No, no! I have no heart to visit such a house of mourning. The
fact is, I shall never be able to see him again, for I planned the
excursion, and induced his son and daughter to join it. This I now
regret; but regrets are useless things."

"Regrets do sometimes produce happy results, and I should think that
yours, just now, must be very keen."

"Indeed, they are intensely keen. It will be a long time before I
get over the impression this fatal accident has made on me."

"You should take it as a warning."

"Well, I don't know how it is, but I never feel quite myself when
taking a Sunday excursion; I feel a little qualm of conscience,
even though I do not hold the Sunday in such reverence as you do. I
thought some time[12] ago that I had got over these qualms, but they
will come back at times in spite of me."

  [12] Vol. i. page 17.

"I am glad to hear you say that your conscience does reprove you
when you profane the Sabbath, and I hope its reproofs will be more
severe than they ever have been. They may be your protection against
some fatal danger."

"Then, Sir, if I do not mistake your meaning, you wish me to be
frightened into the adoption of religious habits. Is this a fair
specimen of your Christian charity?"

"The storm sometimes saves the vessel which might become a wreck in
the calm, as we heard in the sermon last evening; and I assure you I
should be highly gratified to see you agitated by a salutary feeling
of dread and perplexity regarding the state of your soul, as I then
should indulge a hope that you would 'flee from the wrath to come,'
and take refuge in the promises of the gospel."

"Well, I must confess that Mr. Guion is one of the most eloquent
preachers I ever heard. The conclusion of his sermon was truly
sublime; the congregation appeared to quail under its terror--a
feeling which by no means surprised me. There is, indeed, a fearful
terror in the words the _wrath to come_; and there was almost an
irresistible impressiveness in the look and tones of the preacher
when urging his audience to flee from it. I felt, just before he
finished, that I must take refuge in the promises of the gospel; but
the internal commotion soon subsided when I found myself beyond the
reach of his voice, though still I cannot forget it."

"Now, Sir, to be candid; is not the terror you felt, when listening
to the sermon we heard, and the abiding recollection of it,
something like an unconscious homage instinctively paid to the
positive reality of the Christian faith? for we can hardly suppose
that you would invest a mere fiction with such power of impression."

"Why, no; I can scarcely admit that. My idea is, that my present
feelings are merely the lingering influences of early religious
training, with its accompanying associations; and we all know that
such influences may subsist long after we have been led to form
different opinions in our maturer years."

"They live to admonish and to warn, as well as to chastise. There
_may_ be a _wrath to come_. This you must admit, simply because you
do not know there is not; nor can you know, unless God is pleased
to tell you so. _Hence your scepticism needs a Divine revelation
to sustain it_--mere disbelief goes for nothing in settling such a
question."

"Well, I know there is great difficulty, and sometimes an
impossibility, in proving a negative; but one thing is absolutely
certain--I cannot compel myself to believe what you believe, any
more than you can compel yourself to disbelieve what I disbelieve."

"My belief has evidence to sustain it; but your disbelief has none.
And while your disbelief is accompanied by a feeling of uneasiness
and perplexity, my faith exerts a soothing influence, which keeps my
mind in perfect peace."

"Well, I admit that your faith does more for you than my disbelief
does for me; but I cannot believe what you do without impeaching
both the wisdom and the beneficence of the Deity. In other words,
the Deity must sink in my admiration before I can admit the Divine
origin of Christianity."

"But how so?"

"The eloquent preacher whom we heard last evening, when discoursing
on the expression in his text, _he was believed on in the world_,
advanced two distinct propositions, which he endeavoured to sustain
by arguments taken from your Scriptures. The first was, that _there
is salvation for the chief of sinners if they believe in Christ and
trust in him_. You believe and are safe, and are happy because you
expect to be saved. Now, I have no objection to advance against
this; because I know that faith, or trust in Him, does produce these
moral effects on true believers. But my nature revolts against his
second proposition, which was, _that none can be saved who do not
believe in Christ, and trust in him for salvation_."

"In sustaining those propositions the preacher said--and there is
great force in the remark--that we can have no assurance that any
will be saved but by a Divine testimony in proof of it; and that
if it please God to limit the exercise of his saving power to one
prescribed method, our objections against it will be altogether
unavailing."

"Yes, Sir, you quote correctly. Now, in my opinion, it would be a
reflection on the wisdom and beneficence of the Deity to suppose
that he has bound himself under such a forced law of restriction
as compels him to exclude all from a state of future happiness but
the few who do believe and do trust in Christ. Why, have we not
amongst us many men of unsullied honour, of princely generosity,
and of the most amiable dispositions--men who take the lead in
benevolent enterprises and social improvements--poets, philosophers,
historians, and statesmen, who are applauded in public, and admired
and esteemed in private life, but who cannot bow down and do homage
to Jesus Christ, by reposing an absolute dependence on him for a
hope of future blessedness, even though they unwillingly pay an
external homage to the regulations and institutions of Christianity?
Are men of such a high order of mind--of such brilliant virtues--men
who are the very life and soul of society--to be cast off and left
to perish along with the dissipated and the worthless? It cannot be."

"Your objection, then, does not lie so much against the salvation
of the great sinners, who repent and believe in Christ, as it does
against the law of restriction, which excludes all who do not repent
and believe from the hope of salvation."

"I can admit your first proposition, without much difficulty,
even though I do not say that I actually believe it; but I cannot
entertain a belief that the Deity has enacted a law which restricts
the exercise of his beneficence to a select few, some of whom, on
your own admission, are more distinguished for their vices than for
their virtues."

"But is not the law of restriction, even now, a fundamental law
of God's administrative government? For example, are superior
intelligence, genius, or wealth, made common property--to be
possessed by men share and share alike? Do we not see that the few
surpass the many--that some are brilliant stars while others are
mere glowworms; and while some occupy stations of affluence and
grandeur, others are left without a settled home, or any of the
comforts of life?"

"Why, if we really do believe that we are living under the
administrative government of the Deity, then there is no denying
the existence of this restrictive law. Facts are stubborn things;
those you mention are strongly corroborative of your views. But it
does not necessarily follow that this law of restriction applies to
our final destiny, even though it may be applicable to our present
condition of existence."

"But this admission deprives you of the basis on which you rest your
argument, that a law of restriction would be a direct impeachment of
the wisdom and the beneficence of the Deity."

"Well, perhaps it does."

"If, then, facts compel us to admit that this law of restriction is
in full operation _now_, while we are on earth, surely we must admit
the possibility of its continuance in a future state of existence,
without impugning the wisdom or justice of the Deity?"

"I never enter on a discussion on the questions at issue between us,
without feeling compelled to do one of two things; and yet I cannot
bring my mind to do either. I must admit the truth of revelation and
its explanations, and this I cannot do; or I must abandon myself
to _universal_ scepticism, and this I feel unwilling to do. But I
do confess that I feel it more easy to disbelieve than to believe.
However, waiving further reference to this difficulty, allow me to
call your attention to another point, which, if not more difficult
than the one we have just been discussing, assumes, at least in my
estimation, an aspect of great perplexity. Assuming then, for the
sake of the argument, that the Deity does restrict the bestowal
of future happiness to those who do believe and trust in Christ,
could he not have devised some other scheme for this purpose, and
one equally perfect and effective--one, in fact, less open to
objections?"

"I will reply to your question by asking another. Could not God
have made a world different to the one in which we live--one more
congenial to our taste, and less exposed to those privations and
hardships to which we are often subjected, and which we sometimes
so much dread?--A world, for example, in which every convenience
and necessary should be placed within reach; the earth producing
spontaneously the supplies of corn and fruits necessary for our
subsistence--a sufficient supply of dew as a substitute for rain
with its discomforts--the purification of the air effected by gentle
breezes instead of by tempests and hurricanes--no diseases to rack
the body nor cares to harass the mind; a world, in fine, in which
universal happiness should prevail, and sorrow and toil be unknown?"

"Yes, there is no denying that the Deity could have done this."

"But God has not done it; and therefore to object to what he has
done, because we can imagine he could have done something better,
is as useless, as it would be childish. Now, suppose for a moment
some other plan of salvation had been devised, it would have been
to accomplish what is effected by the present scheme--namely, the
final happiness of man. The present scheme, then, answers the
beneficent purpose of its Author--another plan could do no more
than this; but it would be romantic to suppose that it could be
so arranged, in its various parts and modes of application, as to
preclude the possibility of any objections to it, when we well
know it is next to impossible to find any twenty men who all think
alike even on the most obvious facts. Christianity places before us
two great practical facts, in which our present safety and final
happiness are involved: first, there is a way to heaven or to a
state of future blessedness--this should excite our gratitude;
there is only one way--this should make us cautious, lest, through
ignorance, prejudice, or carelessness, we come short of so glorious
a consummation."

"Your explanations, Sir, may be satisfactory to yourself, but they
are not so to me. Indeed, the more I think of it, the more I feel
disinclined to bow down and do homage to the Christian faith. Now,
for example, it is an indisputable historic fact that many ages
elapsed before Christianity was promulgated; and, during this long
period, what countless millions of human beings must, on your
hypothesis, have perished, without ever having had a chance of being
saved! Would the Deity have remained silent so long if he had bound
himself to your law of restriction--to save none but the few who
believe and trust in Christ for salvation?"

"If Christianity, which is the completion of the original scheme
of salvation, was not promulgated till a comparatively late period
in the history of our world, yet the essential substance of it was
known from the earliest period of time. The apostle says, that
Abel, the first man who tasted the bitterness of death, offered his
prefigurative sacrifice in faith, which is a proof that he knew
the way of salvation, to be perfected by the death of the promised
Saviour; and we may fairly presume that what he knew, would be
made known to his descendants, from one generation to another. And
the same apostle says, when speaking of his Jewish ancestors--'For
unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them; but the word
preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them
that heard it' (Heb. iv. 2). And Jesus Christ himself says--'Your
father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad'
(John viii. 56). From the time of Abraham to the actual coming of
Christ, the clearest and fullest revelations of this scheme of
salvation were limited to Abraham's descendants; but we can collect
from the records of ancient history, scanty as its materials are,
sufficient evidence to prove, that amongst the people of other
nations it descended by traditional report and testimony, from one
generation to another, so as to leave them without excuse, if they
perished in their disbelief, or from their own neglect of giving it
due attention. At length they became so corrupt and debased that
they were left, as a judicial visitation from God, to suffer the
consequences of their depravity and impenitence (Rom. i. 21-25)."

"But what immense numbers of human beings must, on your hypothesis,
have perished during this long reign of ignorance and moral
corruption; and I do not see that the state of things is much
improved at the present time. Now, let us look at the case just as
it is. Christianity has been in existence and in active operation,
so you say, for nearly two thousand years; and yet how small is the
space on the surface of our globe which is illumined by what you
call her celestial light, in comparison with the vast regions which
are enveloped in moral darkness!"

"I admit it," I replied.

"But how will you reconcile such a tremendous state of things, with
the acknowledged wisdom and beneficence of the Deity?"

"You are aware, Sir, that we are often compelled to admit as
indisputable facts, what we cannot reconcile with the wisdom and
benevolence of God--as the slave-trade, for example, slavery as it
now exists in America, and the perpetration of murders, and other
social crimes."

"Very true, Sir; these are confounding facts. They often stagger me."

"Permit me to say, that the arguments you adduce to disprove, if
possible, the truth of the Christian faith, and its practical
utility, are precisely those I would employ in proof of its Divine
origin and beneficial tendency. Going back to an early period of
time, let us consider some of the indisputable facts of history. The
tribes of Israel, we know, had been held for centuries as slaves
in the land of Egypt; and after their emancipation they went to
reside in Palestine. In most of those qualities which command the
respect and admiration of mankind, the Jewish nation was remarkably
deficient. With the exception of their sacred writings, their
literature appears to have been meagre in the extreme; no eminent
philosophers, historians, or orators adorn their annals, and the
fine arts seem scarcely to have had any existence among them.
Compared with the Greeks and Romans, and other nations of antiquity,
they were barbarians; and were spoken of in the language of scorn
and contempt by their more accomplished and renowned contemporaries.
In ONE department of knowledge, however, the despised Jewish people
far surpassed the haughty statesmen and polished sages of Greece
and Rome. They knew the only true God, and spoke of him in a style
corresponding with his greatness, his condescension, and his
paternal love. While the inhabitants of all other countries were
abandoned to the grossest and most abject superstition and idolatry,
the Hebrews alone adored one God, and alone appear to have possessed
any suitable ideas of the dignity and holiness of the Supreme
Being; and while the worship of the pagan divinities was licentious
and cruel, that of the God of the Jews was distinguished by its
mildness and purity. Here is a contrast which must be traced to some
adequate cause."

"The Jews most certainly, in this department of knowledge, claim a
just superiority over other ancient nations; but this may have been
owing to their isolation and their training."

"That I grant; but their isolation was a Divine arrangement, and
their training a Divine dispensation. They were separated from all
other people by the express command of the Lord their God; and their
teachers who trained them in this department of knowledge--the
knowledge of the only true God, and of the way of salvation,
proclaimed that God had made himself known to them by special
revelation."

"Yes, they said so, and I will admit that they believed it was so;
but as they were not infallible, they may have been mistaken."

"Why, Sir, any person of common sense can easily distinguish
between a discovery, and a communication as to matters of fact.
However, to account for their superior knowledge on these sublime
and recondite subjects, without admitting the correctness of their
own testimony,'that God spake to _their fathers_,' is absolutely
impossible, unless we believe--what would be an outrage on common
sense to imagine--that there is more acuteness in mental dulness
than in superior intelligence; and that an untutored people,
while devoting themselves chiefly to agriculture and the rearing
of cattle, could eclipse, by the grandeur and sublimity of their
discoveries, a people who has long enjoyed the highest degree of
intellectual culture."

"But, Sir, your Scriptures prove that the Jews had amongst them
men of genius and of great mental power. Isaiah, for example, in
sublimity and lofty grandeur of conception and description, has
no superior in any age or country; and the pastoral odes of David
equal, if they do not surpass, anything we meet with in Pope or
Addison. As a legislator, Moses stands at the head of his order,
and, if my memory serves me, the great critic Longinus says he
was no ordinary man; and, therefore, it is not a matter of such
wonderment that they made discoveries of the Deity which no other
philosophers ever made."

"But you forget that what you call their discoveries were
inspirations, which came upon them from the Source of all knowledge;
and to these inspirations they uniformly attribute their knowledge
of the only true God, and that scheme of salvation which he had
devised on behalf of man. And this belief was entertained by all
the tribes of Israel, not simply because their teachers said so,
but because, they confirmed the truthfulness of their testimony by
signs, and wonders, and divers miracles."

"And yet after all their novel and sublime discoveries in regard
to these all-important subjects, and after all the miraculous
attestations which you say were supplied in confirmation of their
truthfulness, we find that they apostatized from the worship of
their Deity, and relapsed again and again into idolatrous worship
and practices, and became corrupt and debased like the people of
other nations."

"That is very true, Sir; and the consequences resulting from their
apostasy supplies a very cogent argument in favour of my hypothesis.
While they adhered to the worship of the true God, and observed the
statutes and ordinances which he gave them, they were a united,
virtuous, and prosperous people; and, though few in number, they
were great in power. No invading force could subdue them, nor
could any adjoining country into which they carried their arms
withstand the shock of their assaults. But when they renounced their
allegiance to Him, and relapsed into idolatry, practising at the
same time the cruel and obscene rites of heathenism, they became
debased and corrupt like other pagan nations; and then, when the
protecting arm of the Lord their God was withdrawn, they fell an
easy prey to their enemies, who reduced them to a state of slavery
more galling to their national pride than that of Egypt. And,
in further confirmation of my argument, just let us look at the
present moral state of those countries which have not yet received
and submitted to the authority of Christianity. There we find
most triumphant evidence in favour of the moral superiority of the
Christian system over every other at present existing in the world,
in regard to promoting the dignity and happiness of mankind. Without
descending to the gross idolatries of Fetichism, and other abject
forms of superstition, what is the social condition of nations where
Mahometanism or Buddhism is professed? and what, on the other hand,
is that of those countries, where Christianity has been established?"

"To you, Sir, who believe that the Deity restricts the bestowal of
a state of future blessedness to that comparatively small number
who believe in Jesus Christ, the condition of those nations where
Christianity is not established must appear truly appalling; but to
myself it presents no such painful aspect, because, as the Deity
has permitted this state of things to descend from one generation
to another, for such a series of ages, I believe he looks with an
_equal eye_ of compassion and beneficence on all his offspring;
and that, _if there be a future state of blessedness in reserve_,
he will discard your law of restriction, and confer everlasting
happiness on all, without respect to their faith, or their religious
rites and customs. Hence I see no absolute necessity why you should
embark in that crusade of missionary enterprise and labour, which we
heard recommended and enforced with so much eloquence last evening;
for we are not sure that if such a transfer of homage, and change
in the mode of worship, could be effected, it would augment the
happiness of the people who are the subjects of it, or improve their
social habits and dispositions."

"I am rather surprised to hear you make these remarks; however,
without noticing all of them, I think I can convince you that on
some points you are labouring under a species of delusion, and
that I shall endeavour to point out. I proceed, then, at once, to
real or very probable matters of fact. A vessel, richly laden and
scantily manned, may sail up the Thames or the Clyde in perfect
safety, even if there are no weapons of defence on board; but if she
were to venture near the coast of some parts of the Indian seas,
her passengers and crew would run the risk of a contest for their
lives and liberty with the savages on shore. If a vessel should be
wrecked on the shores of the once savage, but now Christian islands
of Tahiti or Raratonga, its crew and passengers would be sure of
a kind reception from the natives; while, if a similar disaster
should happen on the shores of the Feejees or of Sumatra, they
would run the risk of being seized and devoured; or, if spared this
fate, would be compelled to live in degradation and misery. Here
are striking contrasts, amongst human beings who are endowed with
the same powers of intelligence and sympathy as ourselves; but to
what singular cause are these to be referred, unless it be to the
influence of the Christian faith, which, you doubt, will work no
beneficial change in the character and condition of man?"

"You strike home now, and I feel I must surrender. But still, while
the diffusion of Christianity may tend to tame the wild savage, and
make him more like a human being, I do not see any necessity for
your missionary labours amongst the Chinese or the Hindoos, who are
highly civilized, and, upon the whole, intelligent. Why should any
efforts be made to dispossess them of their religion, with its rites
and ceremonies, which they inherit from their forefathers?"

"I think that no compulsory efforts should be made to achieve this
end; but I presume you would not think it wrong that our government
should introduce the humane laws of Britain into all her foreign
dependencies?"

"Why, no; such a measure, I think, would be very advisable."

"I thank you for this admission in favour of the necessity of
Christian missions, especially to India, where cruelties are still
practised in broad day, such as we should be apt to regard as
monstrous inventions, fitted only to gratify a morbid appetite for
the horrible, were they not attested by faithful eye-witnesses.
What think you of this specimen? At the annual festival in honour
of Muha Div (the great god), many persons are suspended in the air
by large hooks, thrust through the integuments of their backs,[13]
and swung round for a quarter of an hour, in honour of this deity;
and often over a slow fire. Others have their sides pierced, and
cords are introduced between the skin and ribs, and drawn backwards
and forwards, while these victims of superstition dance through
the streets. Others cast themselves from a stage upon open knives,
inserted in packs of cotton. Sometimes one of these knives enters
the body, and the poor wretch is carried off to expire. If an infant
refuses his mother's milk, it is often hung up in a basket on a
tree, to be devoured by the vultures. This is no criminal offence,
as it would be amongst us, but a ceremonial regulation of their
faith. And in India, the mother often sacrifices her first-born,
to conciliate her guardian deity in behalf of her unborn progeny.
When the child is two or three years old, she takes it to the river,
encourages it to enter, as though about to bathe it, but suffers it
to pass into the current of water, when she abandons it, and stands
an inactive spectator, beholding the struggles and listening to the
screams of her perishing infant."

  [13] We find, from a document which has recently come from India
  (December, 1856), that some of these cruel rites are abolished in
  a few of the provinces; and there is now no doubt but the work of
  legislative humanity and enlightened policy having been begun, will
  steadily advance, till the triumphs of missionary enterprise in our
  Indian empire are complete.

  "An order has just been promulgated by the magistrate of Poonah,
  under instructions from government, prohibiting hook-swinging and
  other barbarous practices throughout the Poonah Zillah. Such a
  measure has long been desired by all who wish for the improvement
  of the natives. Of old it was believed--or careless and idle minds
  found it convenient to believe--that it was dangerous to meddle
  with any native practice, however immoral or revolting, that was
  connected with or claimed the sanction of religion. But times are
  changed, and innovations which might not safely have been attempted
  a century or half a century ago, the age is now ripe for.

  "Another barbarous custom, also prevalent at Jejooree, is
  interdicted by the proclamation of Mr. Davidson. A man runs a sword
  through the fleshy part of his leg for about a foot, and, drawing
  it out, sprinkles the blood on the entrance of the temple. For this
  feat he receives large free-will offerings; and the right to perform
  it is vested, as a valuable privilege, in a body of about fifteen
  families, to each individual of which it comes round once in about
  six or seven years. These men, however, long ago declared that they
  would be glad to discontinue the practice (which some think is a
  remnant of the rite of human sacrifice) if their incomes could be
  assured to them."

"I would have all these cruel rites and ceremonies put down by the
force of law; which, of course, would supersede the necessity of
your missionary enterprise."

"As experience is a safe guide in the settlement of doubtful
questions, a reference to it, on the present occasion, will
supply palpable evidence that the labours of our missionaries
in India have been of great importance and value, both to the
natives themselves, and also to the government, by facilitating
the introduction and peaceable establishment of a humane policy.
The history of their labours proves that they were not visionary
speculatists, but sober-thinking men, who knew and realized the
fact, that wherever Christianity prevails it uniformly conduces to
the progress of mankind;--that it communicates that just manner
of thinking upon the most important subjects, which, extending
its influence thence to every department of speculative and
moral truth, inspires a freedom of inquiry, and an elevation
of sentiment, that raises its disciples immeasurably above the
level of unassisted nature. This great historic truth gave them
confidence in the prosecution of their herculean labours. Let me
now notice what they have already accomplished, and that without
creating any popular disturbances amongst the natives, thus
falsifying the predictions of their opponents, who, from the press
and in both houses of parliament, were accustomed to say, that the
safety of our Indian possessions was endangered by the presence
of our missionaries there; and that our Indian empire would be
irrecoverably lost if any legislative measure were introduced
to suppress or control the superstitious customs and rites of
the natives. In the first place, the missionaries have given us
correct information on all matters relating to the Hindoos--their
worship, and its various ceremonies--their character, and social
habits; and thus, by an accumulation of authentic facts, they have
disproved the statements of our popular writers, that the Hindoos
are not only an intelligent, but a very virtuous people; and that
their religious rites and services, though novel and repulsive
to Europeans, are both chaste and humane. Since the missionaries
exposed this deception, which had been so long practised upon us, no
one has ventured to eulogize the virtues, or defend the religious
practices of the Hindoos. In the second place, they established
schools for the education of the youth of India, both male and
female; and thus they have succeeded, to a very considerable extent,
in diffusing both scientific and biblical knowledge, which is
noiselessly but effectively rescuing them from the dominion of the
debasing ignorance and superstition under which their forefathers
had been living from time immemorial. And no one doubts, who is at
all conversant with the present state of things in India, but the
rising generation will far surpass any preceding one, in mental
acuteness, in knowledge, and in moral character. In the third place,
by their writings, their preaching, and their intercourse with the
natives, they have proved useful pioneers in clearing the way for
the peaceable introduction of the laws promulgated by the British
government for the suppression of many of those cruel practices to
which I have already alluded. In the fourth place, without employing
any undue modes of attack and exposure, they have succeeded, to a
very considerable extent, in shaking the confidence of the Hindoos
in the truth of their national faith; and a powerful conviction is
impressed on the Indian mind--an impression which is becoming deeper
and deeper every day--that the days of their mythology are numbered,
and that ere long its humiliation and subversion will be achieved.
And, in addition to these proofs and indications of their success, I
have to report another of their triumphs, and that refers _to your
own fraternity_--the conversion of many of our own countrymen, who,
on their settlement in India, became first speculative, and then
practical unbelievers--rejecting, as visionary or fabulous, the
faith of their early training, and often distinguishing themselves
by their virulent hostility to the Christian missionary and his
labours; but who now zealously co-operate with him in his exertions
to spread the knowledge of the way of salvation."

"To you, these doings of your missionaries are splendid triumphs in
confirmation of the Divine origin of that faith, which restricts
the bestowal of a state of future blessedness to the comparatively
few who believe in Jesus Christ; but to me they appear nothing
more than the natural consequences of a well-concerted attack on
a long-established and nearly worn-out order of things, which we
know invariably results in dividing popular opinion. On all such
occasions _Divide and conquer_ is the motto, and when this is done,
then the pruning off from the old stock of belief and opinion,
and the engrafting on the new one, is an operation as natural as
it is easy. Human nature is given to change; the love of it is an
essential element in our mental constitution, and nothing is more
common than going from one extreme to another, or more likely than
the change from Brahminism or Buddhism to the faith of Christianity."

"And from Deism to Christianity also, as I have shown you. Hence,
to quote your own words, I indulge the hope that you will become a
believer, if we have patience."

"A possible event, on the assumed correctness of your hypothesis, as
then I may be operated on by some Divine influence, which I shall
have no power to withstand; but on my own supposition, as remote
from possibility as the junction of the antipodes."

"We shall see. You have already advanced some way in the right
direction. But to return to India. Here is a fact, which was
not publicly known amongst us, till it was reported by our
missionaries--that one whole tribe in India has uniformly destroyed
every female child born amongst them, so that they have been obliged
to take their wives from the tribe next in rank to them. On one
occasion a father's heart recoiled when the emissaries of murder
demanded his daughter; and he repelled them from his presence. Her
life was spared, and she grew up tenderly beloved by her parents;
but the sight of a girl rising to maturity in the house of a
Rajpoot, was so novel, and so contrary to the customs of the tribe,
that no parent sought her in marriage for his son. The grief-worn
father, suffering under the frowns of his own tribe, and trembling
for the chastity of his daughter, and the honour of his family, bore
her off to a pathless desert, where, with his own hand, he slew her,
leaving her body to be devoured by wild beasts."

"Horrid! horrid! Such transactions as these, if true and believed,
are enough to rouse popular indignation against our government
for not adopting some prompt and severe measures to prevent their
repetition. I would annihilate the whole tribe, rather than suffer
such inhuman monsters to live on earth."

"You then would recommend a wholesale massacre to save a few lives;
while I would advocate the introduction amongst them of a pure and
humane faith, which teaches and enforces the relative obligations of
parents and children as they prevail amongst ourselves. This sense
of relative obligation, and the social improvement which necessarily
follows it, Christianity, by its mild and persuasive influence,
has already succeeded in establishing in the cannibal islands of
the South Sea, and also, to some extent, amongst the natives of
civilized India. Christianity can do, and I have no doubt will do,
for India what she has done for Britain--subvert her idolatry,
with its cruel and obscene rites, and raise up an enlightened and
renovated native population, who, with gladsome voices, will sing
the song of Bethlehem, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good-will toward men' (Luke ii. 14)."

Mr. Gordon, on rising to take his leave, said, "Well, there is no
denying the fact, that the world is in a sad disordered state;
and if you think you can improve it by your missionary labours, I
will not impeach the benevolence of your motives, though, without
hesitation, I may predict the failure of your sacrifices and
exertions."

"But, Sir, you must acknowledge that it is more honourable to fail
in the cause of philanthropy than to make no effort."

"This honour, I believe, is in reserve for you, though I must say
you merit one more brilliant. Go on, my dear Sir; but don't be
too sanguine. Utopia I know is very rich in splendid scenery, but
unfortunately it partakes much of the nature of the mirage. Good
night; with many thanks for all your good wishes."



A RENEWED ENCOUNTER.


The night before I left London, Mr. Gordon again called, and, after
some desultory conversation, our attention happened to be directed
to the book entitled _No Fiction_, which was lying on the table.
This led to a somewhat sharp and lengthened encounter.

"I dipped into that book," said Mr. Gordon, "the other day, and it
gave me some amusement, as the tale is made to appear a very natural
one. Its author narrates and sketches extremely well, for a divine,
and it is highly creditable to his talents, which must certainly be
of a superior order."

"Yes, Sir, he is quite a superior man. There is one paragraph of his
tale to which I should like to direct your attention, and which, by
your permission, I will read to you."

"Read on, Sir, and I'll give all due attention."

I then read as follows:--

     "I have often been delighted," said Douglas, "in reading the
     accounts of the power of religion on the minds of children; but
     this is the _first_ instance which has fallen beneath my own
     eye. What a religion is ours! How great--and yet how plain! It
     is so sublime, that it rises beyond the conception of the most
     enlarged mind! and so simple, that it brings home its lessons to
     the bosom of a little child! The elements of the gospel, like
     the elements of our nourishment, are adapted to the endless
     varieties of age, and character, and circumstance, throughout
     all the human race."

     "And this appears," said Lefevre, "to be a feature in our
     religion which distinguishes it from all false religions. As
     far as I am acquainted with the subject, no one of the pagan
     systems _could_ have been rendered universal. They all received
     their character from national prejudice, national policy, and
     predominant national vices."

     "Yes," rejoined Douglas, "and as, in their own nature, they
     were not adapted for the benefit of mankind as such, so their
     great teachers discovered an indifference to the bulk of the
     human race, incompatible with everything which deserves the
     name either of religion or morality. With haughty pride they
     exulted in their own wisdom, and looked down with scorn or
     ridicule on the folly of those who were not initiated into
     their false philosophy. Man scarcely deserved their notice,
     but as he claimed the proud titles of rich, or wise, or noble;
     and women and children were utterly abandoned to ignorance and
     wretchedness. Jesus, our blessed Saviour, was the first Master
     in religion who opened the door of knowledge _to all_--who
     carried his instructions and his tears to the cottage of _the
     poor_! This appears to me to involve a powerful evidence of the
     truth of Christianity, that may well perplex and confound the
     hosts of infidelity. I have more than once thought that the
     psalmist must have referred to this use of the subject, when
     he said, 'Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast
     ordained strength, because of thine enemies: that thou mightest
     still the enemy and the avenger.'"

"This passage, if I remember rightly," Mr. Gordon remarked,
"refers to a tale very similar to your story of _The Woodman's
Daughter_; but I must confess, with all due deference, that I see
nothing very remarkable in it; and how you can think of adducing
it as an argument in favour of the Divine origin of Christianity,
rather surprises me. Children, we know, are imitative. They take
the manners, the habits, and the tones of their parents and
teachers; and if they should adopt their sentiments, feelings, and
expressions, it certainly ought not to be considered remarkable. But
yet I should like to hear how you contrive to connect such a fact
and the divinity of the gospel together."

"Such a fact, Sir, proves that the Christian religion is adapted
(as we may fairly presume it would be, if of Divine origin), to the
moral condition of man, irrespective of his age--of the strength
or weakness of his intellect--or the peculiar shades of his moral
character. To suppose that this adaptation is by accident, would be
no less objectionable than to conclude, with the sceptics of the
French school, that it is by chance we see, hear, and speak. If you
are prepared to admit that the marks of contrivance, which we can
easily discover in the construction and organization of our senses,
supply us with a legitimate argument in favour of the existence
of a God, by whose power and wisdom this organization has been
arranged, I cannot conceive how you can avoid admitting the marks of
contrivance which we can as easily trace in the Christian scheme of
salvation, as conclusive evidence in favour of its Divine origin."

"O Sir! it has been invented by a few crafty men, who wished to
display their skill at the expense of our credulity, and they have
done it most dexterously. They were certainly adepts in invention."

"I know that this is a favourite opinion with you Deists; but I do
not think that you can support it. How came these men to devise a
scheme of religion which is so admirably adapted to the moral state
of man? From whence did they gain their information? They tell us
that they wrote under the dictation of an infinitely wise Spirit,
and, in common fairness, their testimony ought to be admitted;
and, I think, a candid examination of what they have done, and the
style in which they have done it, will satisfy us that they are
truth-speaking men. I form my judgment on this point as I should on
another somewhat analogous to it. If, for example, I saw an epic
poem equal to that of Virgil or Milton, or a treatise on logic
superior to that of Dr. Watt's, written by a boy of ten years of
age; and, if on expressing my astonishment and admiration, he
should say--'The writing, Sir, is mine, but nothing more--I wrote
from the dictation of Wordsworth and Whately,' I should at once
believe him, from a consciousness of his incompetency to produce
such compositions by his own unaided powers. So with the sacred
writers. We know that, with very few exceptions, they were unlearned
and ignorant men, and their contemporaries who knew them spoke of
them as such; and yet they have surpassed all other men in the
science of moral and spiritual truth. In confirmation, too, of this
internal evidence of the truthfulness of their testimony, that
they wrote under the dictation of an infallible Spirit, we find,
on examination, that the various parts of their comprehensive, yet
minute theory, are in perfect harmony with each other, while, at
the same time, the theory itself is admirably adapted to the moral
condition of humanity. The marks of contrivance are too obvious to
allow us to refer the arrangements to chance, or the mere skill of
man. For our guilt, it provides a propitiatory sacrifice, whose
blood cleanses from all sin--for our depravity, it provides a
renovating influence, by which, we are made partakers of the purity
of the Divine nature; regarding us as oppressed with cares and
sorrows, it animates us with exceeding great and precious promises,
by which we are enabled to put our trust in God, and thus rise above
the trials of this life; and, viewing us as panting for immortality,
it unveils futurity, and delights us with the sublime vision of
endless happiness."

"To you, who are initiated into a firm belief of the Divine
origin of Christianity, this apparent adaptation of it to our
moral condition and necessities, and its revelations of a future
state of happiness, must appear as the consummation of wisdom
and benevolence. But I cannot resist the impression, that it is
to the activity of your imagination you ought to attribute this
correspondence, rather than to any actual fact; and that you are,
at least so I think, unconsciously beguiling yourself with pleasing
anticipations which will all prove visionary."

"The gospel, Sir, is a living reality, and it works moral wonders."

"I don't quite comprehend your meaning."

"I mean, that it answers the purpose for which it was intended, or,
in other words, it does the moral work which is ascribed to it,
and does it effectually; this I can prove by an appeal to living
testimony. Hence, when it is received by faith, it _does_ give peace
to a wounded conscience; it _does_ infuse a renovating power, by
which man becomes a new creature, in his moral principles and social
habits; it does administer the most soothing and strengthening
consolation to the child of sorrow, and it animates the dying
believer with the hopes of a blissful immortality. These are moral
facts which the experience of myriads can attest."

"Yes, I see how it is; the imagination traces a correspondence
between its own impulses, and aerial flights, and the component
parts of your scriptural theory; and you very naturally think that
you would be robbed of an inestimable treasure, and the world at
large sustain an irreparable loss, if your theory of faith should be
exploded as a worn-out relic of an antiquated superstition."

"But, after all you say against the Christian faith, I do not think
you would vote for its expulsion from the earth, even if you thought
you could succeed in effecting it; and I will tell you why. Its
expulsion would be as great a calamity to the moral world, as the
total disappearance of the solar light would be to the physical--we
should at once relapse into a state of profound ignorance on
all the important questions which relate to God, to our origin,
our immortality, and our destiny. We should then find ourselves
groping about, like the ancient heathen, amidst vain and foolish
speculations, striving to unravel the mysteries of our nature, and
finding no resting-place for our troubled spirits. I have often
thought, when musing on such a fearful occurrence, what an awful
gloom would spread over the world if we knew that the fatal hour
was coming, when, by some supernatural process, all our knowledge
of Jesus Christ, and the design of his mission and death, would
suddenly pass away from human recollection; and when every leaf in
our Bible, and of all other books referring to him, should become
as blank as they were before they were printed--leaving us, like
the doomed spirits of the infernal world, without a Saviour, or any
promise of mercy."

"_You_ would anticipate such a strange event with sad and awful
forebodings. The disappearance of Jesus Christ from your theory
of belief would be to you, and to all of your way of thinking, an
irreparable calamity; though I must confess, that I cannot account
for the hold he keeps on your imaginations. To me, this is a mystery
which deepens in profundity the more I try to fathom it. His very
name appears to be a charm, and of more than magic power."

"Yes, Mr. Gordon, there is a charm in the name of Jesus, which
at all times, but more especially under circumstances of great
privation and danger, both soothes and elevates his disciples. They
fear not to die in the tranquillity of their own homes or the raging
of the tempest, on the scaffold or the battle-field."

"I will not attempt to deny a fact which general testimony confirms;
but permit me to ask, if you can assign any rational cause for what
appears to me so mysterious?"

"I can; the fact admits of a fair explanation. Those who have faith
in Christ believe that, though invisible, He is ever near them to
succour and to comfort them. Hence, the sailor, when pacing the deck
during the dark and stormy night, prays to HIM, who, when sailing
with his disciples, rebuked the winds and the waves; and he feels
that he is addressing one who hears him, and can save him. Yes! and
in the dreary cell of tyranny--at the stake of martyrdom--in penury,
suffering, and in death--the name of Jesus is uttered with thrilling
accents, and awakens associations which have tenfold greater power
over the soul than the kindest expressions of human sympathy
and love. I was an eye-witness, not long since, to a display of
Christian heroism in death:--A young man, of superior intelligence
and station in life, who had been rather sceptically inclined, was
taken ill, and during his continued illness his sceptical notions
vanished, and he became a simple believer in Christ Jesus. After the
lapse of some months, his physician told him he must die, as his
disease was beyond the reach of human skill. I was present when this
announcement was made, and he received it without expressing either
surprise or regret. When his medical attendant withdrew, he said to
his mother and his sisters, who stood weeping by his bedside--'I am
not surprised by your tears, for I know you love me; but weep not
for me, for I am nearing the end of my course. My confidence of a
glorious issue is placed on HIM, who is mighty to save; he is with
me, though I see him not. Death's dark vale is illumined with the
light of life, and I shall soon pass through it, and then I shall be
safe and happy for ever.'"

"Most marvellous! and yet I believe it. Such incidents as these are
most impressive. We are mysterious beings, alternately terrified by
our own imaginary fears, and excited to ecstasy by the illusions of
our own fancy."

"But the extinction of Christianity and its sacred records might
prove a great disaster to you sceptics; especially at some of the
turning points of your history."

"To us! you now really take me by surprise; but, to be serious, how
do you make this out?"

"Why, it is well known that sceptics, when in expectation of death,
often call on Jesus Christ to save them."

"A drowning man will catch at a straw."

"He would prefer a life-boat."

"True."

"I ask you one plain question--If you lived on a dangerous coast,
would you ever scuttle a life-boat which has rescued many from
destruction, and which possibly you may live to need?"

"I see your drift, and admire your ingenuity. Of course, I would
not."

"Well, I will venture on another supposition, and leave you to
decide whether I am not right in my conjectures, that even you,
with all your antipathies to Jesus Christ, may be surprised in
circumstances which would render the sound of his name the most
effectual solace that could be given. Suppose, for instance, we were
walking together in some vast forest in the far northern part of
America, and saw advancing toward us a band of apparently ferocious
savages, should we not tremble with fear and apprehension? But
suppose, while in this state of terror, we should hear them singing
in chorus a verse of some familiar hymn, would you then recoil in
terror? Would you experience additional consternation on perceiving
that these barbarians had been instructed in the Christian faith?"

"I like your illustrations--they amuse me. Can't you favour me with
another?"

"I will try. Suppose you were sailing among the islands of the South
Seas, and, when nearing one of them, would you not rather see the
natives on the beach clothed in European dresses, as at Tahiti and
Raratonga, than in a state of savage nudity? and would you hesitate
to drop anchor if you heard them singing in harmony--

    'Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
    Does his successive journeys run:
    His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
    Till moons shall wax and wane no more.'"

"In arguing," said Mr. Gordon, "there is nothing more desirable than
a good illustration, which gives pleasure, even when it does not
produce conviction. Well, then, I will admit that there is a strange
fascinating power in a name, and in mental associations, for which
our most sagacious philosophers are unable to account; but that's
no reason why I should give it my sanction, if I believe, as I do
in these cases, that it springs out of a superstitious belief; and,
therefore, leaving the sailor in the storm, and the prisoner in the
cell, with the rest of your illustrative examples, and not caring
to conjecture how I should act or feel if I were placed in such
circumstances as you describe, I certainly, according to my present
views and impressions, would vote for the expulsion of Christianity,
if my suffrage could bring about such an event; but I fear that it
is too deeply fixed in the prejudices of the public mind ever to be
rooted up--at least in our time."

"But would you not tremble in anticipation of the success of such
an effort? Expel Christianity from the earth! Why, what evil has
she done? You may trace her progress by the improved condition
of the people whom she has visited and blessed. Where she finds
a wilderness, she leaves a fruitful field for the sickle of the
husbandman; she meets with briars and thorns, and converts them into
the myrtle tree and the rose; she encounters all the base lusts and
ferocious dispositions of our nature, and supplants them with the
tranquillizing affections of purity and peace. She improves the
intellect, refines the taste, and humanizes the character; and,
by raising men to a state of spiritual communion with the Supreme
Being, imprints on them the image of his benevolence, and animates
them with his love of righteousness. She mitigates the violence of
sorrow--binds up the wounds which adversity inflicts in the heart
of man--reconciles the mourner to his bitter loss--disarms death of
his terrors--and exhibits beyond the grave a scene of tranquillity
and of joy which no hand can portray or tongue describe. Expel
Christianity from the earth! Then, Sir, you would give perpetuity to
those horrid systems of idolatry which maintain their dominion over
the great majority of the human race, as no power will ever destroy
them but that which the gospel of Christ displays. Nay, Sir; if you
were to succeed, you would prove the greatest enemy to man that ever
visited the earth since the author of all evil triumphed over our
first parents: for how many thousands would you, by such a wanton
act of cruelty, deprive of their sweetest sources of consolation,
and their brightest prospects of happiness!"

"You are eloquently severe; but, my dear Sir, you may spare your
severity, as it is not likely that I shall ever make the attempt,
and less likely that I should succeed, were I vain, or, to quote
your own language, wanton and cruel enough to do it. I willingly
admit that Christianity has done some good, but you must allow
that she has done some evil; and it is but fair to balance the one
against the other, to see which preponderates. If she has promoted
peace in one country, she has planned massacres in others; if she
has blessed one family, she has introduced discord and division into
others; and if there are a few solitary individuals animated by her
promises of mercy, there is a larger number who tremble under the
awful denunciations of her vengeance."

"Her promises of mercy are addressed to all, and all are invited
to receive the blessings which she is willing to bestow; but if
they disdainfully reject them, and treat her message of grace with
contempt, she turns away, and announces their approaching doom;
and she does this in a tone, and with a lofty majesty of speech,
which often makes the most daring quail before her. But why do they
tremble, if they believe she has no power to punish? Your other
charges against her I will meet by a quotation from a book[14] which
I wish you would peruse, and which I shall be happy to present to
you:--

     "That men calling themselves Christians have persecuted others
     with unrelenting cruelty, and have shed rivers of innocent
     blood, is but too true. Did Christianity countenance this
     conduct, it would merit unqualified reprobation. But far from
     such a disposition, it forbids all violence and injury to be
     employed in its defence. Christianity never shed a drop of its
     enemies' blood since the day that Christ died on the cross; but
     it has been lavish of its own. It never forged a chain to bind
     a heretic or an adversary, nor erected a prison to immure him.
     Christianity never dipped her pen in tears of blood, to write a
     penal law denouncing vengeance on infidels. She never made her
     bitterest foe heave a groan, from any bodily suffering inflicted
     by her hands. Her only weapons of offence and defence are truth
     and prayer. She returns good for evil, and blessing for cursing.

     "If men, wearing the garb of the disciples of Jesus, instigated
     by pride, and the lust of dominion, and a desire to gratify
     the worst passions of the human heart, injure any of the human
     race under a pretence of zeal for religion, they act in direct
     opposition to the gospel, and you cannot condemn them with too
     much severity. But surely Christianity should not be condemned
     for what it forbids men to perpetrate under pain of the Divine
     displeasure. Or if such as were truly Christians ever sought
     to put a stop to infidelity or error, and to propagate the
     gospel in the world by force (and it is to be deplored with
     tears of blood that such there have unhappily been), they will
     receive no more thanks from Christ than the three disciples when
     they wished him to bring down fire from heaven to destroy the
     Samaritans:--'Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of: the
     Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'
     Nor would he account the words, which he directed to Peter on a
     different occasion, too severe to be used to them here:--'Get
     thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me; for thou
     savourest not the things which be of God, but the things which
     be of men.' Both the principles and precepts of the gospel,
     and the conduct of Christ and his apostles, are as remote from
     persecution as the east is from the west."

  [14] Dr. Bogue's Essay on _The Divine Authority of the New Testament_.]

"I admire the candid and amiable spirit of the writer, and will
certainly read his book, if only from respect to the friendship
which dictates the present; but I will not flatter you with any hope
of bringing me over to your belief. However, waiving all personal
remarks, allow me to ask you if you really believe that Christianity
will ever become a universal religion? and, if so, how do you think
it will be propagated through the earth?"

"That it is _adapted_ to become a universal religion, no one
can doubt who has ever inquired into its nature and design, or
who has ever read the history of its progress. It is suited to
man as a rebellious subject of the Divine government; and it has
been embraced by men of every rank, of every clime, and of every
description of character. Hence, if you could bring together, in
one place, some natives of Europe, Africa, Asia, and America,
or from any of the islands or cities which belong to either of
these great divisions of the earth; and could, by some miraculous
influence, impart to them the power of speaking the same language,
you would find them all, if they had embraced the pure faith of
Christ, giving utterance to the same sentiments--expressing the
same feelings--exulting in the same prospects--and disclosing all
the peculiarities of the same singular and extraordinary spiritual
character."

"But, Sir, if this hypothetical statement be correct, how will you
account for the endless divisions which prevail amongst those who
are known to embrace the same Christian faith?"

"You ought, Sir, to distinguish between a real and a nominal
Christian; and though I will not deny but there are diversities of
opinion even amongst real Christians, yet they relate to minor and
subordinate questions. Consider Christianity as coming from God--it
is pure and unspeakably good; view it as received by men--it will
be, as the schoolmen say, _secundum modum recipientis_. If the
difference of capacity, and the prejudices and passions of mankind
be duly weighed, we shall not account it strange if they do not
all think alike, nor receive the truth in all its purity. But this
is not peculiar to the Christian religion. There are divisions and
dissensions in matters of religion among pagan idolaters, among
Mahometans, and among Deists. You cannot deny it. But the Deist does
not consider this as a reason for rejecting Deism. If so, neither
is it a reason for rejecting Christianity. More particularly,
some men are destitute of every noble principle--they are full
of deceit, avarice, pride, and sensuality. We see them abuse the
gifts of nature, and of Providence; is it wonderful, then, if they
pervert Christianity too, and entertain different ideas of many of
its doctrines from wise and godly men? It is no more an objection
against Christianity being from God, because such persons come
short of its purity, than against the gifts of nature and other
temporal blessings being from God, because they are often abused.
Weakness of intellect will produce peculiarities of sentiment on
every subject, and, consequently, on religion. The prejudices of
education and early habits will generate attachments to certain
opinions and rites; hence, also, differences in religion will arise;
but the fault is not in Christianity, it is in man. From similar
causes we see a diversity of opinion among the learned regarding
sciences of great utility--medicine, law, politics, philosophy;
but, notwithstanding this, all allow them to be highly beneficial
to mankind--none deny their usefulness, although people differ
about some particular points. To reject the gospel, because bad men
pervert it, and weak men deform it, and angry men quarrel about it,
displays the same folly as if a person should cut down a useful tree
because caterpillars disfigured its leaves, and spiders made their
webs among its branches."

"I have no objection at present to offer to this fair explanation of
the difficulty which has often perplexed me; but you will permit me
to refer you to my former question--Do you think that Christianity
will ever be universally established?"

"I do, Sir; and my belief is founded on the following basis.
Christianity is adapted for a universal religion; it foretells the
fact of its universal establishment; its disciples are commanded by
the Lord Jesus Christ to seek its universal propagation; and it is
now spreading itself with unexampled rapidity through the nations
of the earth. You cannot, Sir, but be conscious that the aspect of
the times indicates some approaching change in the destinies of man;
and though you, on your principles, cannot hail any redeeming power
by which the curse that inflicts such mighty evils on suffering
humanity can be rolled away, yet we can on ours; and hence, while
you are left to speculate on the charms of a philosophy which has
never ameliorated the moral condition of man, we can speak with
confidence of the intervention of _Him_, who will turn the curse
into a blessing, and make this earth the abode of purity, of
harmony, and of bliss."

"But how do you expect this great and mysterious change to be
brought about?"

"Not by force. That has been tried by short-sighted rulers in former
times, and has utterly failed. Conversion to Christianity which
is effected by such means produces no change in the human heart.
The _man_ remains the same, though his professed belief may vary.
The circulation of the Scriptures, the distribution of religious
treatises, and the preaching of the gospel, are the only means which
we employ to accomplish this great design. But, even when these
means are used in the most judicious manner, we do not calculate
on accomplishing the purpose which we have in view without the
influence of a supernatural co-operation; for it is not by the power
of man that the demon of superstition, or the Moloch of idolatry is
to be dethroned, and Christianity established, but by the Spirit of
the Lord."

"I rather admire your dexterity in avoiding, _on principle_, the
mortification attendant on any failure in your pious efforts in
behalf of the perishing heathen."

"I don't quite understand you."

"Why, you say, your success is dependent on the concurrence of a
supernatural power; and, consequently, if you fail in your pious
undertaking, you lay the blame on the inactivity of this supposed
preternatural influence, never for a moment doubting your own
sagacity, or questioning the efficacy of the means which you employ."

"If you examine the theory of the Christian faith, you will find
that, in every moral operation, this concurrence of supernatural
power with human agency forms an essential part of it. 'Man sows the
seed of truth, it is God who gives the increase.'"

"As such a theory must tend to limit exertion, and depress an ardent
mind, it strikes me that it is an ingenious invention to provide a
pleasant solace in the season of disappointment, which, I believe,
has its periodical visitations in your ecclesiastic annals."

"It has analogy in its favour. We eat and drink to sustain life, but
the efficacy of the nourishment to sustain life depends on God. The
farmer casts the seed into the soil, but it is God who causes it to
grow and yield its increase. His confidence in God gives a stimulus
to his own exertions."

"Well, I won't dispute this point with you; but, after all, does it
not tend to discourage your pious exertions, when you believe that
a successful issue is dependent on an influence which you cannot
control, and over which you have no power?"

"No. It has a contrary effect, as in the case of the husbandman.
We look upon ourselves as mere active instruments employed in
accomplishing the Divine purpose of grace and mercy in behalf of
the perishing heathen; and the established law of the economy of
our faith and practice is embodied in the following record of
inspiration:--'For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from
heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and
maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower,
and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of
my mouth: it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish
that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I
sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace:
the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into
singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands'
(Isa. lv. 10-12)."

"I bow before such an ingenious theory of faith; but still entertain
my doubts. Patience must still hold on, or you will abandon me in
despair."

"I will continue to hope, even against hope; because I know there is
an unseen power which is capable of effecting such a transformation,
as I devoutly trust may yet be accomplished in you."



THE EFFECT OF A WORD SPOKEN IN SEASON.


Not long after I had returned home, and was again busily engaged
in my pastoral duties, I received a letter, informing me of the
last illness and death of an esteemed friend and occasional
correspondent, Mrs. Hastings. Her history is an interesting one, and
aptly illustrates the effect of a word spoken in season.

"You must often," says Dr. Chalmers, "have been sensible, in
the course of your history, how big, and how important the
consequences were, that emanated from one event, which in itself
was insignificant--how on the slightest accidents the greatest
interests were suspended--how, moving apparently at random, you met
with people, or with occasions, that gave rise, perhaps, to far the
most memorable passages in your life--how the very street in which
you chanced to move, brought you into contact with invitations and
appointments, or proposals of some sort, which brought results of
magnitude along with them; insomuch that the colour and direction
of your whole futurity have turned on what, apart from this mighty
bearing, would have been the veriest trifle in the world. A word--a
thought--an unforeseen emotion--an event of paltriest dimensions in
itself--may be the germ of an influence wide as a continent, and
lasting as a thousand years--may, in fact, change the current and
complexion of a person's social history and character, and lead to
consequences which shall be durable as eternity."

Many years ago, I was unexpectedly called to London, on a matter
of great emergency. My travelling companion, for part of the way,
was a lady, attired in deep mourning. I endeavoured to draw her
into conversation, by referring to the beautiful scenery, and other
common-place topics, but I could not succeed. At length, on seeing
her drop a tear, which she endeavoured to conceal, I said, "This
world is rightly denominated a valley of weeping."

"Yes, Sir, it is," replied the stranger. "I hope you will excuse my
weakness. I have sustained the greatest loss that can ever befall a
woman. I am a widow. I had one of the best of husbands; but cruel
fate tore him from me, even without permitting me to see him, till
his corpse was rudely exposed before me."

She then told me that her husband left her early one morning to go
out shooting, but, on passing through a hedge, it is supposed, the
trigger of his gun got entangled in the briars, as he was found, an
hour after the report had been heard, lying on his face, with his
gun by his side, and his dogs crouching before and behind him, as
though their master was asleep.

"Since that fatal hour, Sir, I have not had one pleasant feeling
in my desolate heart; and now I have left a spot on which nature
has lavished her beauties, to seek a tranquil death in some distant
shade."

"But, Madam, do you never expect to see another happy day?"

"No, Sir, never! No, never! I have tried every expedient in my
power, but they have all failed. I have been to Bath, to Cheltenham,
to Brighton, and have travelled on the Continent. I have read the
most popular novels of the English and the French schools; but all
is useless--mine is a hopeless case."

"No, Madam, it may not be hopeless. I can direct you to a source of
consolation which you have not yet thought of."

"Indeed, Sir; then I'll try it. I would freely part with wealth for
mental ease; for wealth, without happiness, is but an aggravation of
misery."

"I would recommend you, Madam, to read the Bible. That book was
composed for the express purpose of promoting our happiness; and
if you read it with attention, and pray for wisdom to understand
it, and for a disposition to receive the truths which it reveals,
you will find that it will do you more essential good than all the
expedients which you have been trying."

"If, Sir, I had not received a favourable impression of your
benevolent disposition, I really should imagine that you were
disposed to turn my intense grief into ridicule. Read the Bible!
Why, Sir, what is there in that obsolete book to interest me?"

"No, Madam; the book is not obsolete, and never will be, as long
as human misery abounds in the world. That book has healed wounds
as deep as yours, and mitigated sorrows no less poignant; and, if
you examine it, you may find it as a well-spring of life to your
withered happiness."

"Your advice, Sir, is prompted, I have no doubt, by the kindest
sympathy; but my heart instinctively recoils from adopting it."

"Why, Madam?"

"Because I cannot conceive how the reading of a book, which I have
always regarded as a collection of legendary tales, can remove or
assuage such sorrows as wring my spirit. I have neither faith nor
taste for such reading."

"Have you ever read the Bible, Madam?"

"O no, Sir, never! I may have read some passages as a school lesson,
but I don't remember any. My mother died when I was but a little
girl. From what I have heard an old servant say, I believe that she
was fond of the Bible; but my father abhorred it, and he trained me
to abhor it. He used to call it the Grand Mogul of superstition.
Its style of composition, I have heard him say, is as offensive to
correct taste, as its sentiments are revolting to a cultivated mind."

"If you will permit me, Madam (taking out my little pocket Bible
while speaking), I will read you a few passages, and then you can
judge how far your belief is supported by evidence."

She bowed assent, and I then read the twenty-third psalm. I saw, by
the expression of her countenance, that the chaste imagery of the
psalmist pleased her; but before we could interchange any remarks
the horn blew, and the mail suddenly stopped. However, when she
alighted to step into the carriage which was in waiting to receive
her, she said, in a tone of subdued seriousness, "I will follow
your advice, Sir, and read the Bible to form my own judgment of
its character and tendencies; and if you will favour me with your
card (which I gave her) I may, possibly, some day let you know the
result, especially if it should be what, I do not doubt, you wish it
may be."

A long period had elapsed after this occurrence took place, and
it had nearly passed from my recollection, when it was very
unexpectedly revived by a letter from the lady. The letter was
subscribed Susannah Hastings, and, after calling to remembrance
the circumstances in which we had met, she proceeded to give me
a general outline of her subsequent history, accompanied by an
interesting account of her severe mental conflicts in her spiritual
inquiries, and a pressing invitation to call and see her, should I
ever pay a visit to London, where she then resided. I acknowledged
the receipt of the letter, congratulated her on the great moral
and spiritual change through which she had passed, and stated that
she might expect to see me very soon. Not long after that I had
occasion to be in London. Within a few days after my arrival, I
called on her, and had from her own lips a more detailed account of
the process of her conversion from darkness to light, than she had
given me in her letter. My visits were repeated during my sojourn
there, and since then we kept up an occasional correspondence.
From these two sources of information--her letters and her verbal
communications--I am able to give a finished sketch of her somewhat
marvellous, if not romantic history.

Having entertained, from early childhood, a belief that the Bible
was a very objectionable book, both in point of sentiment and style
of composition, she says, in her first letter, "I was not only
surprised but delighted, by your reading the twenty-third psalm. I
saw the rural scene vividly depicted; the sheep feeding in the green
meadows, while the shepherd was reclining on the bank of the gently
flowing stream, watching the glad movements of the sportive lambs,
as the evening sun glided in noiseless splendour through the sky.
I at once resolved to purchase a Bible, thinking, _then_, that it
was merely a work of the imagination--an antique relic of some early
poetic age." But on her arrival in London, she was prevented from
doing this so soon as she intended, in consequence of the assiduous
attentions of her friends, who were ceaseless in their efforts to
raise her drooping spirits; naturally thinking that, if they could
succeed in doing so, she would get reconciled to her fate, and again
enjoy life. Hence she was lured from one gay scene to another still
more exciting, and every expedient was adopted which ingenuity could
devise, to amuse and gratify her. But she soon found, that neither
the opera, nor the theatre, nor the fascinations of private parties,
could assuage the tumultuous agitations of her heart. "I moved
amongst them," she said, "more like an automaton than a living being
who felt any pleasure in existence."

An incident now occurred, that led her into a new train of thought,
which proved the beginning of an eventful issue in the history of
her life. On passing her bookseller's, she looked in, to inquire
about a new novel, which she had seen announced as just issued
from the press. There she saw on the counter a small Bible, which
brought our conversation in the stage coach to her remembrance,
and she purchased it. In her first letter, she says, "I soon found
the twenty-third psalm, and as I re-perused it, its poetic imagery
appeared to my mind more beautiful than ever. I then turned to Psalm
ciii., which I read with more solemnity of feeling. It made me think
of myself, and it brought me imperceptibly into contact with God.
I was delighted by his assumption of the paternal character. This
was the first time in my life I felt any force, or perceived any
intelligible meaning, in the petition in the Lord's Prayer--_Our
Father, who art in heaven_; but yet my perceptions of its meaning
were very vague and indefinite. They did not excite any emotions
of love, or of gratitude, or filial trust; but they left a strong
impression on my mind. It was a strange and startling impression,
that, though an inhabitant of earth, I was moving towards another
world. I am sure I had not thought so much about God or another
world all my life, as I thought that night, and particularly when
my head was on my pillow. My day-thoughts came up in my dreams, and
in a more lucid form, and produced a more powerful effect. When I
awoke in the morning, I felt a strange sensation of mental ease,
which greatly astonished me, as I knew not by what cause it had been
produced. The agitating forces of bitter grief and sullen discontent
were in a state of quietude; and though not really happy, yet my
spirits were buoyant, rising at times to cheerfulness."

At this juncture she had to fulfil a long-standing engagement--to
accompany a party of friends on a tour to the north; and though she
endeavoured to excuse herself, yet she felt compelled to yield,
as the excursion had been planned principally on her account.
When alluding to this excursion, at my first interview with her,
she said:--"At an earlier period of my life, I should have been
delighted, when wandering through the Trosachs or sailing on
Lochlomond, when gazing on the wonders of Staffa or surveying
the magnificent scene from the top of Goatfell; but my mental
susceptibilities were unstrung, and I felt no response to the scenes
of beauty and grandeur which I beheld. But never shall I forget
the little unobtrusive inn at Brodick, nor my neat little bed-room
there, as I there saw a Bible, the first I had seen since I left
home. I sat me down, and, in addition to the two psalms that had
become favourites with me, I read Psalm cvii., which greatly excited
me, as it revived the fearful emotions of the preceding day, when,
on nearing Arran, we had to encounter a terrific storm."

On her return home, she resumed her reading of the Scriptures,
and passed from the Psalms to the Prophecies of Isaiah. The bold
imagery of the prophet delighted her, but she could not trace its
application, or its meaning; and, in reference to his sixth chapter,
she was greatly perplexed to decide whether it was a poetical
fiction, or a real description of heaven. "My first course of
reading," she says in her letter, "left an impression on my mind
that we have not, in any of the walks of literature, such a class
of men as the writers of the Bible. These men possess some rare
endowments; they appear to know more about God and another world
than any other writers whose works I have ever read. There is a
majestic simplicity, and sublime grandeur, in all their statements
and descriptions of the unknown world, and its great spirits."

Having no one to guide her in her study of the Scriptures, her
reading was very desultory; she passed from one book to another
in great mental perplexity, and could not discover any obvious
connection between them, resembling the continuity preserved in
other works with which she was familiar. At length she turned
to Paul's Epistles, but they were dark and mystical, and rather
repulsive to her taste, being so unlike the poetic and the prophetic
books; to her mind they presented no sublimity or beauty; and
yet she admitted, it was a strange repulsiveness--it gave her no
offence, or even distaste to the Bible. "I now," she adds, "began
reading the Gospels. They were more intelligible. The narratives
pleased me. I was delighted with some of the scenes, particularly
the Prodigal Son, and the Pharisee and Publican in the Temple. The
tales interested me; they seemed to wear the air of truthfulness,
and yet at times I thought them inventions. The history of Jesus
Christ very soon took a strong hold of my imagination, and I soon
began to admire the fine blending of majesty and meekness, of
dignity and tenderness, of lofty bearing, which no insults could
disturb, and sweet compassion, which his character so broadly
exhibits. Yes, I often said, he is a real person, for no human
genius could invent such a person, or draw such a character. I
followed him through the dark period of his agonizing sufferings,
from his prostration in the garden to Calvary, where he was
crucified. I wept when I saw him on the cross."

In one of the interviews I had with her, she said, that two
things both surprised and perplexed her. She was at a loss to
conceive the reason why his countrymen treated Jesus Christ with
so much unkindness and cruelty, when he was such an extraordinary
benefactor, and so benevolent--going about doing them good, healing
their sick, restoring their injured senses of sight and hearing,
and even raising their dead. The other thing that surprised and
perplexed her was, that he should continue to live amongst them,
when they were so rude in their manners, and insolent in their
speech, and when he knew they were often plotting to take away
his life. Why did he not leave them, and go and live amongst some
more humane and generous people, who would return such a style
of treatment by courtesy and gratitude? The more she thought of
these things, the more she was perplexed. She felt so bewildered,
that she put her Bible in her book-case, under an impression she
should never be able to understand it. And yet she could not let
it remain there long. Her curiosity was too much excited, and her
self-imposed prohibition tended to increase her eager solicitude
to make out the meaning of what she read. Hence she resumed her
reading exercise; and on going through the Gospel of John very
carefully, a ray of light fell on _one fact_ in the history of
Jesus Christ, which, while it increased her perplexity, opened the
way towards a discovery to be made in some future stages of her
inquiry. The fact was this: she perceived that, when in conversation
with his disciples, he occasionally made emphatic allusions to the
_necessity_ of his death. This she thought very strange, as it
was a case without a parallel within the compass of her reading.
However, it fixed her attention; and, on a more minute examination,
she perceived that he professed to come from heaven, and avowed
his intention of returning thither; and that he spoke of dying, as
though he had a stronger interest in death than in life, foretelling
to his disciples the agonizing death he was to die (Matt. xx.
17-19). His not recoiling from such a death, and doing everything in
his power to escape it, led her to think that he was some incarnate
being of a peculiar order, who had some special mission to fulfil,
and yet she could not imagine what that mission could be--a mission,
depending for its accomplishment on death, rather than on life,
appeared to her a mystery too profound for human ingenuity to
unravel. "At length," and I cannot do better than quote from her
letter, she says, "a thought struck me and I acted on it, and the
labour of doing so produced a momentary suspension of my oppressive
anxiety. I arranged, as well as I could, some of the passages which
appeared to assign the reasons for Christ's death, to which he often
alluded, particularly the following:--'Even as the Son of man came
not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a
ransom for many' (Matt. xx. 28). 'I am the good shepherd: the good
shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.' 'As the Father knoweth me,
even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.'
'Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that
I might take it again.' 'No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down
of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it
again. This commandment have I received of my Father' (John x. 11,
15, 17, 18). I endeavoured to work out an intelligible meaning from
these passages, but I could not. A mysticism enveloped them which I
could not penetrate. I wanted a living expositor. I longed for an
interview with you, and more than once half-resolved to come and see
you, as, though you were a stranger, I felt you were a friend, and
I knew no other whom I could consult. I had no book in my library
which gave me any help, and I knew not what book to inquire for,
if I applied to my bookseller. No language can depict the excited
state of my heart. I felt intuitively assured there was some latent
meaning in these mysterious sayings of Jesus Christ, or he would not
have uttered them. He was too wise and too good to utter what was
false or foolish. But I could not trace out the clue of discovery.
This at times repulsed me, but, on cool reflection, it appeared like
a silent proof that the Bible was not a book of human invention, as,
in that case, I thought, by dint of application, I should be able to
decipher its meaning. One thing now surprises me, and that is, that,
while cherishing the idea that the Bible was a Divine book, rather
than a human one, I never thought of lifting up my heart in prayer
to God for wisdom and grace to understand it."

In this state of painful bewilderment, depressed by repeated
failures in her efforts to acquire the knowledge which she deemed
essential to her happiness, yet resolutely determined to prosecute
her inquiries, she wrote to her uncle, a clergyman of the Church
of England, stating her case, with its painful perplexities, and
desiring his sympathy and advice. He replied, expressing some
surprise at the receipt of such a letter, and intimating his
apprehension that she had been hearing some methodistical or
evangelical preaching, which he denounced as a fatal heresy, more
calculated to drive people into a state of derangement, than to
advance them in virtue or in happiness. He assured her that, as she
had been, in baptism, made a member of Christ, a child of God, and
an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, she need not cherish any
anxieties about her spiritual safety or final salvation. He advised
her to banish the absurd chimæras, which were disquieting her,
and go and take the sacrament, which, he said, was the spiritual
nourishment which Almighty God had provided to sustain the inner
life of the soul; and, in addition, he recommended her to mingle
rather more in the circles of gaiety, so as to drive away her
melancholy ideas. This letter was both mystical and unsatisfactory.
It contradicted her experience, and she felt astonished that a
clergyman should advise her to go more frequently into the gay
world. "I knew," she said, "that my own ideas were not fanciful,
but the vague conceptions of some great truths of the Bible; and
I felt as unable to banish them from my heart, as a person, when
asleep, feels unable to banish the dreams which disquiet him."
However, she decided on joining in the communion; and being then at
Bath, away from all her gay friends, she went to church, and took
the sacrament--a thing she had never done before. But it had no
tranquillizing effect; indeed, it increased her perplexity, and for
awhile made her think that her case was a hopeless one, and that
it would be better for her to abandon all further solicitude and
inquiries, than to cherish and prosecute them. But she could not
bring herself to such a decision; and the more she laboured to do
so, the more anxious she became to get the clue of discovery, which
she thought was to be found _somewhere_. In this state of intense
anxiety and great depression, she returned to her town residence.
Her friends were more assiduous to please than ever; but some were
mortified, and others were offended, because she would not again
enter into the gay scenes and habits of former times; occasionally
they hinted their apprehensions that she would soon turn an
Evangelical, and become as scrupulous and devout as any of the sect.
These sarcasms, in conjunction with her uncle's letter, suggested
to her the idea of going to some church, where an evangelical
minister did duty, thinking it possible that he might give her the
explanation she so much desired; but she long hesitated about doing
this, as she had not gone to any place of public worship for many
years, with the exception of the time when she took the sacrament
at Bath. Her desire at length became so strong, that one Sunday
morning she left home, not knowing where to go; but, on passing
along the street, she saw some respectable and sedate-looking people
going into a church, whither she followed them. This church was a
Dissenting chapel, which, she said, she should not have entered if
she had known it, as she had been accustomed to hear Dissenters
spoken of as an uneducated and uncouth people. She felt a strange
sensation on seeing the clergyman ascend the pulpit in a plain black
coat, instead of going into the reading-desk in a white surplice;
but the soft melody of the singing, and the emphatic solemnity of
his style of reading the Scriptures, calmed her momentary agitation,
and she listened to his prayer with devout seriousness. This was
the first extempore prayer she had ever heard; and when speaking of
it, in one of our interviews, she remarked that, in one particular,
it bore a resemblance to her Bible reading--parts were plain and
intelligible, and parts were under a veil of mysteriousness. The
minister seemed to know the desires and emotions that were stirring
within her, and he expressed them with so much accuracy and force,
that it greatly astonished her. "Had I confessed to him," she
remarked, "he could not have had a more perfect knowledge of what
was passing in my mind."

When God has any special design to accomplish, we may often trace
the harmonious conjunction of the various agents and agencies which
he employs in effecting it. The Ethiopian eunuch was sitting in his
chariot, reading the prophet Esaias, when Philip, under a Divine
impulse, went and seated himself by his side. The passage he was
reading was veiled in darkness, and he asked for an explanation,
which was immediately given, understood, and felt; the moral
transformation took place by the concurring action of Divine power;
he avowed his newly originated faith; was baptized, and went on
his way rejoicing--the visible agent of the great transaction
disappearing, that the tribute of adoring gratitude might be offered
up exclusively to the God of all grace. We pass from this wondrous
scene to another, stamped with the same moral insignia, though
not quite so obviously conspicuous. Here is a person of superior
intelligence, who has long been labouring, by her own unaided
reason, to decipher the hidden mysteries of the truth as it is in
Jesus, and labouring in vain. She leaves her own home on a Sabbath
morning in quest of a living expositor, yet not knowing where to
find one. An unseen hand guides her to a chapel, which she would
have disdained to enter had she known its denominational character.
Her latent prejudices spring up into powerful action when she
observes a slight deviation in the order of the service from that
with which her eye was once familiar; and yet they are overcome by
a devotional exercise, which surprised her by its novelty, while
it strongly interested her by its appropriateness. The question
she left home to have solved is a simple, yet a very important
one; and on its solution her happiness is dependent. The second
hymn is sung. The minister rises in his pulpit; his Bible is open
before him, and, after a short pause, he announces his text, "And
I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
This he said, signifying what death he should die" (John xii. 32,
33). The sketch he gives of the crucifixion is thrilling; and many
weep while he presents to their view the chief actors who performed
their parts on this tragical occasion. Mrs. Hastings also weeps.
The preacher now passes from description to explanation; from a
detailed statement of facts, to an elucidation of the design for
which the Son of God groaned, and bled, and died. She listens with
breathless attention, as he unravels the thread of mystery which
ran through all the passages of the Bible which she had arranged
and studied, without perceiving their import. "I felt," she said,
"intuitively assured, when he entered on this part of his subject,
that the light of explanation was coming; and I was intensely eager
to catch every utterance. I now perceived that the death of Jesus
Christ was a voluntary ransom, to redeem and to save the lost and
the guilty. The first part of his sermon awakened my sympathy;
the latter part touched another chord of my heart. I wept again;
but from a different cause. My sins made me weep; and the love
of Christ in dying to expiate them, made me weep--and I now wept
as I had never wept before. It was with some difficulty I could
refrain weeping, even when the clergyman had finished his sermon,
which lasted rather more than an hour. I could have listened to him
much longer. I never knew time go so rapidly. I left the hallowed
place with reluctance, thinking, as I paced back to my home, that I
was now entering as into a new world of existence, abounding with
mystic, yet intelligible wonders. I was in a tumult of emotion, yet
it was a calm ecstasy of feeling. I clasped my Bible, and pressed it
to my bosom. I thought of your words, which I never forgot, though,
when I first heard them, they sounded in my ear as the mockery of
grief:--'That book has healed wounds as deep as yours; and if you
examine it, you will find it a well-spring of life to your withered
happiness.' I now can attest the truth of your declaration. I have
tasted its sweet waters; they are indeed the waters of life. None
other so sweet or powerful. I can now respond to the truthfulness of
the following paraphrase of Dr. Watts, whom I now prefer to Byron or
Wordsworth--he is the poet of the heart weighed down by sorrow and
anxiety:--

    'Lord, I have made thy word my choice,
      My lasting heritage:
    There shall my noblest powers rejoice,
      My warmest thoughts engage.

    'The best relief that mourners have,
      It makes our sorrows bless'd:
    Our fairest hopes beyond the grave,
      And our eternal rest.'"

I was happy to find that she had withdrawn from the gay circles of
fashion, and, while she kept up a partial intimacy with some of her
former associates, her spirit and example bore a testimony against
their vain and ensnaring pursuits. She had put on a religious
profession, and felt it to be an honour to obtain membership with
the church of which her spiritual counsellor and guide was the
pastor. This gave great offence to her clerical uncle, and also to
some of her other relatives who resided in London, but she was too
independent in spirit to submit to the arbitrary control of those
who were the secret enemies of the cross of Christ; and though she
did not court reproach as a desirable test of principle, yet she
gave proof, by her steadfastness in the faith, and the amiable
placidity of her temper, that it possessed no power to warp her
judgment or disturb her peace. She was too retiring in her habits
to take an active part in any of the public institutions connected
with the church and congregation of which she was a member, but she
became a generous contributor to their funds, doing good and working
righteousness, not desiring to be seen of men--a devout woman, who
feared God above many. She might again and again have changed her
widowed state, and with flattering prospect of distinction and
happiness, but she had fully made up her mind, that she would never
put off the weeds of widowhood till the set time came when she was
to pass away from earth, to be arrayed in the vestments of the
heavenly world. She cherished through every stage of life the memory
of her dear departed husband with an intensity of feeling which
appeared to increase as she advanced in years. To the poor of the
household of faith she was a warm-hearted and liberal benefactor;
in no exercise did she take more delight than in visiting the sick
and afflicted; and though a Dissenter, she was free from bigotry and
prejudice, and could say, with the apostle, "Grace be with all them
that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen" (Eph. vi. 24).

Our correspondence was kept up for a number of years, and in one
of her last letters she says:--"I am truly thankful to God that
he gave me grace to withdraw from the gay world. It is altogether
a gorgeous sham--a fascinating delusion; felt as such even by
those who are spell-bound by its charms. I often look back, dear
Sir, with astonishment and gratitude, to our casual meeting in
the stage coach, which has proved to me the most eventful and the
most important occurrence of my life. It has been the introduction
of a new era in my history. The mystery of my irreparable loss is
now explained. The husband of my devoted attachment was smitten,
and died. He was taken from me without my being permitted to say
farewell, and, even to this hour, I feel a bitter pang when I think
of his melancholy end. Had he been spared to feel what I have felt
of spiritual sorrow, and of spiritual consolation and hope, we
should have lived in the sweet anticipations of eternal life. I
pine, but I dare not murmur. The past is the fearful thunder-storm
of desolation, from which, praise be to God, I have now emerged, and
enjoy the brightness and calm of a serene and unclouded sky.

"When, my dear Sir, I contrast, as I often do, my present, with my
former self--my present, with my former tastes--my present, with my
former habits, and my present bright prospects of immortality with
my former prospects, overshadowed by the deep gloom of ceaseless
sorrow--I appear a wonder to myself. I am the same person I was
when I repelled your advice to read the Bible, thinking it a
piece of wild fanaticism; but how changed am I now in heart and
feeling--become, I trust, a new creature in Christ Jesus." Psalm
ciii. 1-5.

My friend who announced to me the decease of Mrs. Hastings, informed
me that her preceding illness was not of long duration, nor was it
attended by any severe physical sufferings. During its continuance,
her mind was kept in perfect peace; and at times, she felt a joy
unspeakable in anticipation of beholding the Son of God, who
was crucified on Calvary, seated on his celestial throne; and of
mingling with the countless myriads, in offering their adorations
and praises. Her last intelligible utterance was, "Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit;" and, after a slight convulsive struggle, she
cast one look on the friend standing by her side, and then expired.



THE FAMILY OF THE HOLMES.


On my return one afternoon from a round of pastoral visits, I was
informed that a gentleman was waiting to see me; and I received a
most agreeable surprise in finding that it was no other than Mr.
Holmes, an old and much valued friend, and whose eldest daughter
Louisa has already been casually mentioned as a friend and
correspondent of Miss Roscoe.[15] He informed me that he had just
left his family at Dawlish, their favourite summer resort, where
they had been rusticating for nearly two months, and had come to
transact some business in my neighbourhood. I pressed him to remain
a few days with me, but he would consent to stay only one night,
as he had already been occupied a longer time than he expected.
Before leaving, he extorted a promise from me that, as soon as my
avocations permitted it, I would pay him a visit at the Elms, his
seat near London, whither he and his family expected to return in
the end of the summer.

  [15] Vol. i. page 232.

The history of Mr. Holmes' career in life is an interesting one,
and furnishes a striking example of those gradual elevations from
poverty and obscurity to affluence and an honoured position in the
world, which are, perhaps, more frequently to be met with in the
ranks of English society than in those of any other country. I will
here give some account of it, as exhibiting an instructive example
of persevering industry and upright conduct, crowned by honour and
success.

Mr. Holmes was the second son of a respectable farmer, who rented
a small estate in the county of Warwick. When a little boy he was
very inquisitive, fond of mixing with his seniors and superiors,
from whom he gained much information; and though there was no good
school in the neighbourhood, yet, by the assistance of the kind and
amiable Vicar of the parish, he acquired the rudiments of a useful
education. That leisure time which other children usually devote
to play, he gave to reading and study, and before he was fourteen,
he was a very good accountant. He happened, when about nine years
old, to read the popular story of _Whittington and his Cat_, and
such was the deep impression it made on his mind, that it became
the perpetual subject of his conversation; and he would often amuse
the other members of the family with visionary tales of his future
eminence. He would say to his brothers, "I will leave _you_ to feed
cows, and pigs, and horses, and turn up the clods of the field; but
when I grow up, I will go to London, and see if I cannot become as
great a man as Whittington." So completely had this passion gained
an ascendency over him, that he would often walk miles to see the
mail coach pass along the road towards the far-famed city; and after
listening to the sound of the horn, with an ecstasy of delight which
no other notes could inspire, he would return home to talk and to
dream of his future adventures.

When about the age of fifteen, his father died, leaving a large
family unprovided for; and as Henry could not think of remaining any
longer at home, his mother gave him a guinea and a few shillings,
and he set off to seek his fortune. His youthful ardour kindled into
rapture when he first saw the distant dome of St. Paul's towering
above the buildings and smoke of the wondrous metropolis. Though
he occasionally shed a tear of affection at the remembrance of his
beloved relatives in his native village, yet he was so absorbed in
the visions of his own fancy, that he was rarely depressed. Several
days were spent in fruitless efforts to obtain a situation--his
few shillings were expended, and the shadows of another night were
deepening into darkness, when he sat down on the stone steps in
front of a gentleman's house to rest himself. While he sat there
ruminating over the scenes of his boyhood, and pleasing himself with
the hopes of brighter and better days, a gentleman in a gig drove
up to the door; and as he was getting out, Henry rose and offered
his assistance by holding the horse. The quickness of his movements,
and the pleasing smile on his fine ruddy countenance, attracted the
notice of Mr. Lucas, who asked him his name and place of residence.
"My name, Sir, is Henry Holmes," he replied; "I was born in the
county of Warwick; my father was a farmer, and he is just dead. I
did not like to stay at home to be a burden to my mother, who has
a large family to bring up, so I left home last Monday, to see if
I could get a place of work in London; and if you will hire me,
Sir, I will try to please you." This simple, artless tale made its
way to the heart of Mr. Lucas, who said, "How long have you been
in London?" "Three days, Sir, but I have not been able to get any
work." "Have you any money?" "Yes, Sir, I have a guinea which mother
gave me when I left home, but I am afraid to change it, for if I do,
all my money may soon be gone." This circumstance gave Mr. Lucas
such a high opinion of Henry's carefulness of disposition, that
he at once resolved to take him into his service. Having obtained
his mother's address, he wrote to her and also to the Vicar of the
parish. In a few days he received an answer which confirmed the
truth of the statement of the adventurous youth, and at the same
time bore honourable testimony to his fidelity and industry.

Mr. Lucas was a grocer, who lived in Fore Street, and had acquired
a handsome fortune by his trade. Like most wealthy citizens, he
had his country-house, where he resided during the summer months,
coming to business in the morning and returning in the evening.
As his groom had just left him, the thought struck him that this
country lad might very well supply his place; and Henry rejoiced to
enter on his new employment. He had to clean the horse and gig,
the knives and shoes, and look after some choice poultry; and such
was the attention he paid to his work, and the amiability of his
disposition, that he soon became a favourite with the whole family.
On their return to town for the winter he accompanied them; and as
he possessed talents which fitted him for a higher situation, his
master took him into the shop, where he distinguished himself by his
close attention to business. No one was cleaner in his person, or
neater in his dress; no one was more obliging in his disposition;
the rusticity of his appearance soon wore off; his punctuality and
habit of despatch became proverbial; and though his temper was
hasty and irritable, yet he kept it in a state of subjection, and
uniformly displayed a union of excellencies, which is but rarely
found in so young a person.

Such is the precarious tenure on which men hold their reputation
under the mysterious dispensations of Providence, that it is often
endangered no less by their virtues than their vices; and those who
at one period are esteemed and admired by the wise and the good,
are at another plunged into the depth of misery by the malignant
cruelty of the wicked. Thus it was with Henry. There were two
persons belonging to the establishment, his seniors in age, and
superiors in rank, who were jealous of him; and as they could not
shake the stability of his character by any just accusations, they
resolved to destroy it by artifice. One of them who had the care of
the till-drawer complained for several succeeding evenings of having
missed some money, and it was arranged that some marked money should
be put into the drawer. This was done; at nine o'clock the money was
counted, and the sum of five shillings and sixpence was missing.
This fact was immediately communicated to Mr. Lucas, who called
all the servants into the counting-house, and proposed that each
one should have his person and his boxes searched, without being
permitted to leave the room. To this proposal they all assented; and
lots were drawn to determine the exact order in which the search
should be made. The first name drawn was the head-shopman, who
immediately gave up all his keys to Mr. Lucas, and underwent the
strictest examination, but he was pronounced innocent; the second
was the man who had the care of the till, and he also was pronounced
innocent; the third was Henry Holmes, who, after being searched,
said, "My box, Sir, is not locked." Mr. Lucas then quitted the room
to search it, and on his return, looking steadfastly in Henry's
face, said, "I certainly did not suspect you, Henry, but I have
found the money in your box" (producing it), "and as you have given
me such a proof of your ingratitude and perfidy, you shall leave my
house to-morrow morning."

"Sir," replied Henry in a firm tone, "I am innocent. Some one has
placed the money in my box which might be very easily done, as I
scarcely ever lock it."

"I have suspected you for a long time," said one of the shopmen;
"for no one is so likely to be guilty of fraud, as he who overacts
the part of virtue."

Mr. Lucas now withdrew into the parlour, when he related the whole
circumstances, and as soon as Mrs. Lucas heard the accusation of
the shopman, she said, "Henry is innocent. He is the victim of
another's treachery, and some plan must be adopted to detect the
culprit. In my opinion the accuser is the guilty party, or at least
an accomplice. It is fair to presume that he who stole the last sum,
stole the preceding sums that have been lost. How then will you
account for finding only the five shillings and sixpence?"

"It is impossible," said Miss Lucas, "that Henry can be the thief.
We never lost anything when he was with us in the country, and we
know that he does not go out to places of amusement like the others,
and therefore he is under less temptation to extravagance than they
are. There is a plot to effect his ruin, which I hope and trust will
be discovered."

While they were talking, the housemaid entered the parlour, and
said, that she had just overheard the two young men talking together
on the subject, and she distinctly heard one say, "It was well
planned, and well executed, and now we shall get rid of him." She
was requested to take no notice of what she had heard, but to act
as though she really believed that Henry was guilty. As these two
young men slept together, Mr. Lucas removed some tea chests which
stood against a thin partition that separated their bedroom from an
upper warehouse, and having placed himself near an aperture in one
of the boards, he waited till they retired to rest. Having, from
their conversation, received a full conviction of their guilt, he
withdrew, and informed his wife and daughter that he was perfectly
satisfied of Henry's innocence.

The next morning he rose rather earlier than usual, and before
the porter had opened the shop, he summoned all the shopmen into
his presence, and charged these two men, first, with the crime
of stealing the money, and then with the still baser crime of
attempting to involve an innocent person in their guilt. This
unexpected charge--the indignant firmness with which it was
brought--the involuntary movement of Henry, who came forward to look
his accusers in the face, confounded and abashed them; and though
each made some faint efforts to deny it, yet when Mr. Lucas repeated
the conversation which he had overheard the preceding night, and
threatened that if they did not immediately acknowledge their guilt,
and solicit Henry's forgiveness, he would send for the police, they
made a full confession, and implored mercy in the most suppliant
manner. Henry at once forgave them, and interceded for them; but Mr.
Lucas would not consent that such men should remain in his service,
and having paid them their arrears of wages, he discharged them.

This plot, which was laid to effect Henry's ruin, led to his
advancement, and he now rose rapidly, step after step, till he
became the manager of Mr. Lucas' establishment.

We often see tradesmen, when they have amassed a large fortune,
affecting contempt for the rank of life in which they have moved,
discovering at the same time a strong anxiety that their children,
especially their daughters, should form alliances with those who
move in the higher and more exalted circles of society. Hence they
will often sacrifice a daughter at the shrine of their vanity,
and give a large portion of the wealth which their industry
has accumulated, to some titled pauper, whose extravagance first
reduces her to beggary, and whose unkindness at length breaks her
heart. But Mr. Lucas was a wise man. He never rose in feeling or in
expectation above the level of his station. He had but one child,
and he wished to see her happy; and when he perceived that a mutual
regard subsisted between her and Henry, he expressed his entire
approbation, and they were married. On this event taking place, Mr.
Lucas retired from business, and at his decease, which happened
about twelve months after that of his wife, he left the greater part
of his property to Mr. Holmes.

[Illustration: THE CONSPIRACY DEFEATED.

Vol. ii. page 128.]

Mr. Holmes, who had thus risen, by the Divine blessing on his
industry, from a humble situation to a position of wealth and
eminence, would often allude in conversation to his original
condition, and exhibit his guinea as a proud memorial of his
former poverty;--thus rebuking, by his example, the pride of many
a modern Croesus, who is no less anxious to conceal from others
his origin, than to make an ostentatious display of his wealth.
He had a large family, and as he took considerable pains with the
education of his children, and set before them an example worthy
of their imitation, he had the pleasure of seeing them growing
up, esteemed and respected, bidding fair to be the ornaments of a
future generation. His two eldest sons were in partnership with him,
his youngest was studying medicine, one daughter was married to a
country gentleman in Warwickshire, and three were still living with
him. He had long resisted the importunity of his children to take
some country residence, that they might enjoy an occasional retreat
from the noise, and smoke, and bustle of the city; but when his
wife urged the measure, it was at once adopted, as he was no less
anxious to gratify her wishes than she was to avoid the indulgence
of unsuitable gratifications.

After many unsuccessful efforts to obtain an eligible residence,
he purchased a small estate about seven miles from London, where
he erected a neat and commodious mansion; and as his two sons were
now able to manage his business, he retired from the more active
and laborious duties of it, to spend the evening of his days amidst
rural scenes, with which his earliest and deepest impressions were
associated. Having been accustomed, when a child, to attend his
parish church on the Sabbath, he regularly observed the practice
through life; and though for many years he had no clear perceptions
of the nature or the design of the gospel, yet soon after the
settlement of the Rev. Mr. Newton at St. Mary Woolnoth, he began to
feel its enlightening and purifying influence. At first he disliked
his style of preaching, and the pride of his heart rose up against
that plan of salvation which requires the man of virtue to implore
mercy in terms as humiliating as those which the chief of sinners
employ; but as his knowledge increased, his prejudices gradually
subsided, and though he could not remember any specific time when
the great moral change was effected, by which he passed from death
unto life, yet he uniformly spoke of it as the most important and
blissful event of his history.

The renovation which the grace of God produces in the human
character, often leaves the ruling passion to retain its ascendency,
while it gives it a new direction; and he who undergoes it, usually
displays the same bold decision or hesitating precaution--the
same spirit of active enterprise or prudent consideration, in his
religious profession, that he has been accustomed to display in the
avocations of everyday life. But on some occasions it is just the
reverse; and we see the avowed infidel, when convinced of the truth
of the gospel, halting between two opinions--the active tradesman,
who keeps the machinery of a large and complicated concern in a
brisk and constant motion, a lukewarm Christian--and the man who
could face, without flinching, the most appalling dangers, discover
a shrinking timidity when the obligations to a life of practical
devotedness to God are pressed upon his attention. To account for
such a moral phenomenon would be absolutely impossible, unless
we advert to the powerful influence which sensible objects are
known to possess over the mind, especially during that period
in the religious experience of a Christian when his faith in
the Divine testimony is weak and defective; but as that great
moral principle increases in strength and animation, the natural
dispositions recover their native tone and vigour--the mind no more
vacillates--but rising to a full conviction of the superior value of
the things which are unseen and eternal, gives to them its supreme
attention and affection.

Mr. Holmes felt the transforming power of the truth soon after
his marriage, which led him to the adoption of religious habits
and customs; but he was too deeply involved in the cares
and perplexities of business to become a very zealous and
public-spirited Christian. His moral character was unimpeachable,
and he brought the great principles of religion to regulate his
conduct in the ordinary affairs of life; but his heart was too much
in the world--the fervour of his devotional spirit bore no just
proportion to his diligence in business, and he was less anxious for
the higher attainments of faith than for the acquisition of wealth.
He regularly attended the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Newton on the
Sabbath; but that ministry was more frequently the word of reproof
than consolation; and though the hope of a blissful immortality
would sometimes dawn upon him, yet it shone with too feeble a ray to
afford him entire satisfaction; as it is wisely ordained that a full
assurance of eternal life shall be imparted only to those who give
_diligence_ to make their calling and election sure.

Mrs. Holmes was certainly more devout than her husband, and devoted
a larger proportion of her time to reading and meditation; but
her associations were unfavourable to the growth of her piety,
which, though sincere, was too much tinctured with superstition.
She thought more of her duties than her privileges--of her defects
than of Him who came to repair them--placed more dependence for
consolation and hope on prayer and watchfulness than on the blood of
sprinkling; and, while she did not doubt the truth of the promises,
she uniformly gave a more implicit assent to the threatenings of the
sacred volume. She was rather a disciple of the mortified Baptist
than of the merciful Redeemer. Her devotions were sincere and
fervent, but not elevating. They consisted much in contrition, but
little in praise--much in sorrow for sin, but little in hope of its
pardon. She did not sufficiently cast her confidence on the great
Propitiation. She firmly believed all that the Saviour had done and
suffered for sinners, but she could not claim for her own enjoyment
the benefits resulting from his mission and death. While she was
painfully working out her salvation with fear and trembling, she
indulged the most unfounded apprehensions of the Divine displeasure,
and lived more in dread of perishing than in expectation of being
saved.

No circumstance gave them so much uneasiness, on their removal
to their country seat, as the loss of that ministry under which
they had been brought to feel the power of the truth; especially
as the Vicar of the parish was decidedly opposed to evangelical
sentiments. The junior branches of the family were intelligent and
accomplished, but they made no profession of religion; and now
they were liberated from the restraints which a faithful and an
enlightened ministry had thrown over the evil tendencies of their
nature, they evinced a strong inclination to adopt the habits, and
conform to the customs of fashionable life, which greatly perplexed
and depressed their pious parents, especially their mother. An
intimate friend (Mrs. Loader), who spent some weeks at the Elms, saw
this manifest change in their predilections, and availing herself of
a favourable opportunity, she alluded to it, when in conversation
with Miss Holmes, and delicately, yet most earnestly, urged her to
be on her guard, or the change in their place of residence would
become a snare, if it did not break up all their religious habits,
and prove fatal to their spiritual happiness and safety. This
admonitory warning Louisa received with gratitude, as a fresh proof
of the kind concern her friend felt for the best interests, both of
herself and of the entire family. "Indeed," she remarked, "the world
abounds with evil, but no temptation is so pernicious, or so much
to be dreaded, as irreligious society; and this is the only society
which we now have. I fear it will prove destructive of all the good
impressions we have received under the ministry of the venerable Mr.
Newton. His appeals operated as a check and as a restraint on the
evil tendencies of our nature; but now we are allured into worldly
habits, by being told from the pulpit that we ought to see life,
and have free access to all its scenes and sources of pleasure and
amusement. Mamma has been endeavouring to persuade papa to take
an excursion to Dawlish, which will remove us from this scene of
danger, and I hope on our return we shall be enabled to withstand
every enticement injurious to our religious habits." On taking
leave, Mrs. Loader presented her with a copy of Doddridge's _Rise
and Progress of Religion in the Soul_, which Miss Holmes said she
had read, but promised to peruse again, as a compliment to the
kindness which had dictated the present.

Miss Holmes' two sisters, Emma and Jane, were several years younger
than herself. They bore some resemblance to each other in the
general outlines of their character, but materially differed in
some of its more prominent features. As they had just finished
their education in a school, where all the accomplishments could be
acquired, except the one most essential to human happiness, they
felt themselves in their native element when moving in the circles
of gaiety and folly. Emma had the finest figure, but Jane possessed
the most cultivated mind. The former excelled in gracefulness of
manners, the latter in sweetness of disposition; and while Emma
was rather fond of display, there was an unobtrusive modesty about
Jane which inclined her to conceal her most attractive charms. Emma
appeared to most advantage in a large party, where she moved, and
spoke as though she were the presiding spirit of the scene; Jane,
in a select circle, where the interchange of thought and sentiment
could take place without being subjected to the interruptions and
breaks which a promiscuous throng invariably occasions. Emma was
rather of a satirical temper, with a keen sense of the ludicrous;
but Jane surpassed most of her own age in that practical good sense
which is more valuable than artificial polish. Though, however, they
thus differed so materially in some of the more prominent features
of their character, they were nevertheless passionately fond of
each other, and much attached to their parents, their brothers, and
sisters.

As Mr. Holmes had applied himself to the toils of business with
unremitting constancy for so many years, and had acquired a large
fortune, he yielded without hesitation to the solicitations of Mrs.
Holmes and his daughters, and took a tour with them through the
west of England, visiting in their route all the localities either
famed for their natural beauty, or interesting by their historical
associations. Travelling by easy stages, they at last reached
Dawlish in Devonshire, with which they were so much delighted that
they remained there for several months. Here it was that Miss Holmes
was introduced to Miss Roscoe, with whom she formed an acquaintance,
which soon ripened to an ardent friendship, and proved in future
years a source of much spiritual enjoyment.



A MISFORTUNE OFTEN A BLESSING IN DISGUISE.


Shortly after the return of the family to the Elms, from their
Devonshire excursion, Miss Holmes sustained an accident, which,
though apparently an untoward occurrence, she used afterwards to
speak of as having exercised a most salutary influence on her
character. As she was stepping out of the carriage one day, the
horses suddenly moved forwards, by which her foot got entangled
between the step and the wheel, and she was very much injured.
A messenger was immediately despatched for a surgeon, who, on
examining the bruised parts, reported that no bones were broken, but
said that the ancle joint had been violently sprained. After the
application of leeches, and giving orders to prepare a fomentation
to reduce the swelling, he requested that she would immediately
retire to rest; and if she felt any pain in the morning, not to
attempt to walk, but keep her foot in a horizontal position. These
instructions were attended to; but she passed a very restless night,
and in the morning was much worse than had been expected. This
accident confined her a close prisoner for some months, so that she
had no opportunity of renewing her former intimacies, which had been
interrupted by the excursion to the west of England. Many called
and left their cards, and some of her more intimate friends would
come occasionally and sit with her; but a sick chamber possesses few
attractions for the votaries of pleasure, who generally turn from it
with careless indifference.

As she usually enjoyed a great flow of spirits, and was rather
volatile in her disposition--more fond of the pleasures of society
than the grave exercises of meditation--she was very depressed and
irritable during the first few weeks of her confinement, often
censuring in strong terms the inattention of the servant in leaving
the horses; but she gradually became more reconciled to her state,
and at length turned her attention to reading, to divert her mind
and beguile the tedious hours. She would have preferred some of the
popular tales and novels of the day to any of the volumes in her
father's library; but she had too much regard for his authority and
his feelings to send for works which she knew would be displeasing
to him.

One afternoon, when her parents and sisters went to dine with her
brothers in London, leaving her alone, she requested the servant to
bring her a book; and one book after another was brought, and closed
almost as soon as she had read the title-page. At length she thought
of the book which her esteemed friend, Mrs. Loader, had given her,
and of her promise to peruse it. She took it up from the table
near which she was sitting, but after turning over a few leaves
put it from her, saying, "I have read it." But as she had pledged
herself to read it again, she took the book once more--reluctantly
and carelessly read the running titles which are prefixed to its
different chapters, till she came to the tenth, when her attention
was imperceptibly arrested, and she perused it with a degree of
interest which no other religious composition had ever excited.[16]

  [16] The author has transcribed, from Doddridge's _Rise and
  Progress_, nearly the whole of this chapter and the subjoined
  prayer, as he conceives they will prove very acceptable to those of
  his readers who have not the original work.

"Thus far have I often known convictions and impressions to arise,
which, after all, have worn off again. Some unhappy circumstance
of external temptation, ever joined by the inward reluctance of an
unsanctified heart to the scheme of redemption, has been the ruin of
multitudes. And, 'through the deceitfulness of sin, they have been
hardened,' till they seem to have been 'utterly destroyed, and that
without remedy.' And therefore, O thou immortal creature, who art
now reading these lines, I beseech thee, that, while affairs are in
this critical situation, while there are these balancings of mind
between accepting and rejecting that glorious gospel which I now lay
before you, you will give me an attentive audience, while 'I pray
you in Christ's stead that you would be reconciled to God.'

"One would indeed imagine there should be no need of importunity
here. One would conclude, that as soon as perishing sinners are told
that an offended God is ready to be reconciled--that he offers them
a full pardon for all their aggravated sins--yea, that he is willing
to adopt them into his family now, that he may at length admit them
to his heavenly presence--all should, with the utmost readiness
and pleasure, embrace so kind a message, and fall at his feet in
speechless transports of astonishment, gratitude, and joy. But alas!
we find it much otherwise. We see multitudes quite unmoved, and the
impressions which are made on many more are feeble and transient.
Lest it should be thus with you, O reader, let me urge the message
with which I have the honour to be charged; let me entreat you to be
reconciled to God, and to accept of pardon and salvation in the way
in which it is so freely offered to you.

"I entreat you, 'by the majesty of that God in whose name I come,'
whose voice fills all heaven with reverence and obedience. He
speaks not in vain to legions of angels; but if there could be any
contention among those blessed spirits, it would be, who should be
first to execute his commands. Oh, let him not speak in vain to you!
I entreat you, 'by the terrors of his wrath,' who could speak to you
in thunder--who could, by one single act of his will, cut off this
precarious life of yours, and send you down to hell. I beseech you
by his tender mercies, which still yearn over you, as those of a
parent over 'a dear son,' over a tender child, whom, notwithstanding
his former ungrateful rebellion, 'he earnestly remembers still.'
I entreat you, 'by all this paternal goodness,' that you do not
compel him to lose the character of the gentle Parent in that of the
righteous Judge.

"I beseech you further, 'by the name and love of our dying Saviour.'
I beseech you, by all the condescension of his incarnation, by
that poverty to which he voluntarily submitted, 'that you might be
enriched' with eternal treasures; by all the gracious invitations
which he gave, which still sound in his Word, and still coming,
as it were, warm from his heart, are 'sweeter than honey or the
honey-comb.' I beseech you, by all his glorious works of power and
of wonder, which were also works of love. I beseech you, by the
memory of the most benevolent Person, and the most generous Friend.
I beseech you, by the memory of what he suffered, as well as of
what he said and did; by the agony which he endured in the garden,
when his body was covered 'with a dew of blood.' I beseech you, by
all that tender distress which he felt, when his dearest friends
'forsook him and fled,' and his blood-thirsty enemies dragged him
away, like the meanest of slaves, and like the vilest of criminals.
I beseech you, by the blows and bruises, by the stripes and lashes,
which this injured Sovereign endured while in their rebellious
hands; 'by the shame of spitting, from which he hid not that kind
and venerable countenance.' I beseech you, 'by the purple robe, the
sceptre of reed, and the crown of thorns which this King of glory
wore, that he might set us among the princes of heaven.' I beseech
you, by the heavy burden of 'the cross,' under which he panted,
and toiled, and fainted in the painful way 'to Golgotha,' that he
might free us from the burden of our sins. I beseech you, by the
remembrance of those rude nails that tore the veins and arteries,
the nerves and tendons, of his sacred hands and feet; and by that
invincible, that triumphant goodness, which, while the iron pierced
his flesh, engaged him to cry out, 'Father, forgive them, for they
know not what they do.' I beseech you, by that unutterable anguish
which he bore, when lifted up upon the cross, and extended there as
on a rack for six painful hours, that you open your heart to those
attractive influences which have 'drawn to him thousands, and ten
thousands.' I beseech you by all that insult and derision which
the 'Lord of glory bore there;' by that parching thirst, which
could hardly obtain the relief of 'vinegar;' by that doleful cry,
so astonishing in the mouth of the only-begotten of the Father,
'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' I beseech you, by
that grace that subdued and pardoned 'a dying malefactor;' by that
compassion for sinners, by that compassion for you, which wrought
in his heart long as its vital motion continued, and which ended
not when 'he bowed his head, saying, It is finished, and gave up
the ghost.' I beseech you, by the triumphs of that resurrection by
which he was 'declared to be the Son of God with power;' by the
spirit of holiness which wrought to accomplish it; by that gracious
tenderness which attempered all those triumphs, when he said to her
out of whom he had cast seven devils, concerning his disciples, who
had treated him so basely, 'Go, tell my brethren, I ascend unto my
Father and your Father, unto my God and your God.' I beseech you, by
that condescension with which he said to Thomas, when his unbelief
had made such an unreasonable demand, 'Reach hither thy finger, and
behold mine hands, and reach hither thine hand, and thrust it into
my side; and be not faithless, but believing.' I beseech you, by
that generous and faithful care of his people, which he carried up
with him to the regions of glory, and which engaged him to send down
'his Spirit,' in the rich profusion of miraculous gifts, to spread
the progress of his saving Word. I beseech you, by that voice of
sympathy and power, with which he said to Saul, while injuring his
church, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?' by that generous
goodness, which spared the prostrate enemy when he lay trembling at
his feet, and raised him to so high a dignity as to be 'not inferior
to the very chiefest apostles.' I beseech you, by the memory of all
that Christ hath already done, by the expectation of all he will
further do for his people. I beseech you, at once, by the sceptre
of his grace, and by the sword of his justice, with which all his
incorrigible 'enemies' shall be 'slain before him,' that you do
not trifle away these precious moments, while his Spirit is thus
breathing upon you--that you do not lose an opportunity which may
never return, and on the improvement of which eternity depends.

"I beseech you, 'by all the bowels of compassion which you owe to
the faithful ministers of Christ,' who are studying and labouring,
preaching and praying, wearing out their time, exhausting their
strength, and very probably shortening their lives, for the
salvation of your soul, and of souls like yours. I beseech you, by
the affection with which all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in
sincerity long to see you brought back to him. I beseech you, by
the friendship of the living, and by the memory of the dead; by the
ruin of those who have trifled away their days and are perished in
their sins, and the happiness of those who have embraced the gospel
and are saved by it. I beseech you, by the great expectation of that
important 'day, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven;'
by 'the terrors of a dissolving world;' by the 'sound of the
archangel's trumpet,' and of that infinitely more awful sentence,
'Come, ye blessed, and depart, ye cursed,' with which that awful
solemnity shall close.

"I beseech you, finally, by your own precious and immortal soul;
by the sure prospect of a dying bed, or of sudden surprise into
the invisible state, and as you would feel one spark of comfort in
your departing spirit when your flesh and your heart are failing. I
beseech you, by your own personal appearance before the tribunal of
Christ (for a personal appearance it must be, even to those who now
sit on thrones of their own); by all the transports of the blessed,
and by all the agonies of the damned, the one or the other of which
must be your everlasting portion. I affectionately entreat and
beseech you, in the strength of all these united considerations, as
you will answer it to me, who may on that day be summoned to testify
against you; and, which is unspeakably more, as you will answer
it to your own conscience--as you will answer it to the eternal
Judge--that you dismiss not these thoughts, these meditations, and
these cares, till you have brought matters to a happy issue--till
you have made a resolute choice of Christ, and his appointed way of
salvation; and till you have solemnly devoted yourself to God in the
bonds of an everlasting covenant.

"And thus I leave the matter before you and before the Lord. I
have told you my errand; I have discharged my embassy. Stronger
arguments I cannot use--more endearing and more awful considerations
I cannot suggest. Choose, therefore, whether you will go out, as
it were, clothed in sackcloth, to cast yourself at the feet of him
who now sends you these equitable and gracious terms of peace and
pardon; or whether you will hold it out till he appears, sword in
hand, to reckon with you for your treasons and your crimes, and
for this neglected embassy among the rest. Fain would I hope the
best; nor can I believe that this labour of love shall be entirely
unsuccessful--that not one soul shall be brought to the foot of
Christ in cordial submission and humble faith. 'Take with you,'
therefore, 'words, and turn unto the Lord,' and say unto him, 'Take
away all iniquity, and receive me graciously; so will I render the
praise of my lips.'"

The impression which this reading produced was such as she had never
previously felt; the arrow of conviction had pierced her heart,
but the feelings excited were more those of joy than of grief. She
re-perused the chapter; it disclosed new beauties--it sent forth
a still stronger power of excitement. Her soul was alternately
elevated and depressed, agonized and composed, as though she had
no control over its movements. She recalled to her remembrance
those powerful, yet momentary impressions of truth, which she had
experienced in former years, when sitting under the ministry of
the venerable Newton; and trembled lest those under which she was
now labouring should prove equally transient. It was this fearful
apprehension which gave her more pain, than a discovery of her moral
danger; because she knew that there was salvation for the chief of
sinners; but she knew that if these impressions left her they might
never return. She arose from the couch of weariness and suffering,
and stood resting on the back of her chair, while she gave vent to
her feelings in the following form of prayer:--

"Blessed Lord, it is enough! it is too much! Surely there needs not
this variety of argument, this importunity of persuasion, to court
me to be happy, to prevail on me to accept of pardon, of life, of
eternal glory. Compassionate Saviour, my soul is subdued; so that I
trust the language of my grief is become that of my submission, and
I may say, 'My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing
and give praise' (Psalm lvii. 7).

"O gracious Redeemer! I have already neglected thee too long. I have
too often injured thee; have crucified thee afresh by my guilt and
impenitence, as if I had taken pleasure in 'putting thee to an open
shame.' But my heart now bows itself before thee in humble unfeigned
submission. I desire to make no terms with thee but these--that
I may be entirely thine. I cheerfully present thee with a blank,
entreating thee that thou wilt do me the honour to signify upon it
what is thy pleasure. Teach me, O Lord, what thou wouldst have me
to do; for I desire to learn the lesson, and to learn it that I may
practise it. If it be more than my feeble powers can answer, thou
wilt, I hope, give me more strength; and in that strength will I
serve thee. O receive a soul which thou hast made willing to be
thine!

"No more, O blessed Jesus, no more is it necessary to beseech and
entreat me. Permit me, rather, to address myself to thee with all
the importunity of a perishing sinner, that at length sees and
knows 'there is salvation in no other.' Permit me now, Lord, to
come and throw myself at thy feet, like a helpless outcast that has
no shelter but in thy generous compassion; like one 'pursued by the
avenger of blood,' and seeking earnestly an admittance into the
'city of refuge.'

"'I wait for the Lord; my soul doth wait; and in thy word do I
hope,' that thou wilt 'receive me graciously.' My soul confides in
thy goodness, and adores it. I adore the patience which has borne
with me so long; and the grace that now makes me heartily willing
to be thine; to be thine on thine own terms, thine on any terms.
O secure this treacherous heart to thyself! O unite me to thee in
such inseparable bonds, that none of the allurements of rank, or
of fortune--none of the vanities of an ensnaring world--none of
the solicitations of sinful companions, may draw me back from thee
and plunge me into new guilt and ruin! 'Be surety, O Lord, for thy
servant for good,' that I may still keep my hold on thee; till at
length I know more fully, by joyful and everlasting experience, how
complete a Saviour thou art. Amen."

As she sat musing on the wondrous scene which had passed before her,
adoring the long-suffering which had borne with her follies, and
the grace which had so unexpectedly invested the truth with such
attractive and subduing power, she was roused by the entrance of her
mother. "I hope, my dear Louisa," said Mrs. Holmes, "you have spent
a more pleasant day than you anticipated." "I have been more free
from pain than usual," she replied; "and upon the whole, the hours
have passed away agreeably, though I certainly felt my solitude to
be irksome."

Many who have felt the renewing influence of the truth, when
looking back to the earlier periods of their history, can recal
to their remembrance some text of Scripture, an observation in a
sermon, or a remark in conversation, which had an extraordinary
effect at the time it was heard; fixing their attention as though
it spoke with commanding authority; and which may be regarded as
the first strivings of the Spirit of God within them. These sacred
occurrences have served as the rallying point of hope, when the mind
has been driven to the remotest distance from the faith of Christ;
and notwithstanding the preference which may have been given for a
season to the pleasures of sin, there has been a secret inclination
for those of righteousness--God having implanted a witness in the
bosom who has never ceased to warn and to reprove.

Miss Holmes, when about the age of twelve years, heard Mr. Newton
make the following remark, in addressing himself to children: "You
should treasure up in your memory, while you are young, all the
religious knowledge which you can obtain, as it may be of great
service to you at some future day, when your attention may be
directed to the momentous question of your salvation. You will then,
when convinced of sin, and awed by the terrors of the world to come,
know how to obtain relief, and be kept from that state of deep
perplexity in which many are plunged, who are brought to see their
danger, while ignorant of the way of escape."

This judicious remark struck her with peculiar force, and ever
afterwards she listened to the preaching of the gospel, in
anticipation of the future benefit which she might derive from it.
From that moment she lived in the full expectation of the great
spiritual change, which was ultimately produced in her mind. Often,
at different periods, would she retire from the fascinations of
the world to pray for a new heart; and though she had urged her
request till hope began to wane, yet she was never permitted to
despair of obtaining the blessing. It is true, the paralyzing
influence of her new connections and habits had greatly diminished
her anxieties and solicitudes for the one thing needful; but the
early impressions of its importance which she had received, when
listening to the faithful appeals of Mr. Newton, were too deeply
imprinted in her heart ever to become obliterated; and though
she usually assumed great ease of manners, and wore the smile of
complacent cheerfulness, yet beneath these outward appearances there
lay concealed a wounded, and at times an agonized spirit. She would
sometimes join in the satirical play of wit on the eccentricities
of professors, but always discountenanced any attack on the truth
or sanctity of religion; and though she was becoming more and more
conformed to the world, yet she could not disengage herself from the
influence which the powers of the world to come had early acquired
over her judgment and her conscience. She had too much religion to
be happy with the gay, and too little to be happy with the pious;
mingling with each, yet not being able to partake of the enjoyments
of either, she was doomed to a life of perpetual mortification.

As her character usually received its peculiar tone and complexion
from the society with which she last associated, it was perpetually
varying from gay to grave and from grave to gay; her spirits would
occasionally rise to the highest mirth, and then sink to the
lowest depression; sometimes she appeared open and bland, at other
times reserved and gloomy; alternately devoting herself to the
pleasures of the world, and the external exercises of religion, it
was not till after she became a new creature in Christ Jesus, that
her most intimate friends could ascertain the real cause of such
extraordinary changeableness in her character.

The impressions of Divine truth on the heart, when produced by a
supernatural power, are deep and permanent; but when they claim
no higher origin than the agency of man, they soon pass away like
the morning cloud and early dew, and leave no trace of their
existence. They may, during their continuance, induce an order
of thought and reflection, in strict accordance with the general
tenor of the Scriptures, but they effect no real change in the
heart or character. As they bear a resemblance when they are first
received, and at successive periods, to the operations of the Holy
Spirit, they are frequently mistaken for them, and a profession of
religion made under their influence is often abandoned as soon as
they subside. Hence the annals of the Christian church record the
names of many who have outlived their avowed attachment to the faith
of Christ; and the most awful passages of the sacred volume are
directed against those who, after pleading its promises, with the
hope of obtaining eternal life, relapse into a course of worldliness
or infidelity.

It was under a trembling apprehension of the transitory nature of
her religious convictions and feelings, that Miss Holmes formed a
resolution to make no reference to them, till by a process of trial
she had acquired some satisfactory evidence of their permanency.
She remembered an observation which she once heard the venerable
Newton make, when preaching on the parable of the sower:--"Genuine
religion is distinguished from that which is spurious, not so much
by the dissimilarity of its first impressions, as by its power to
resist temptation, and to bring the dispositions of the heart into
subjection to the authority of Jesus Christ."

Her indisposition, though severe and protracted, was at no
period considered dangerous; it kept her away from the scenes
of gaiety to which she would otherwise have been exposed, and
gave her an opportunity of devoting her attention more calmly
and dispassionately to that subject which now began to appear
pre-eminently interesting and important. She knew that her sins
were more in number than she could calculate, and that the sentence
of condemnation which stood recorded against her might be executed
without any impeachment of the justice or benevolence of God; but
such was the strength of her faith in the efficacy of the Saviour's
death, and in the power of his intercession, that she "was filled
with all peace in believing, abounding in hope, through the power of
the Holy Ghost." Her transition from a state of nature to a state of
grace--from vain and passing pleasures to those of religion--from
the delusive charms of the visible to the more attractive glories of
the unseen world, was sudden, but tranquil--unattended by those deep
convictions of guilt and that overpowering apprehension of future
condemnation which sometimes torture and distract the mind of the
young disciple. This was primarily owing to the accurate knowledge
of the scheme of salvation which she had acquired by sitting under
the enlightened ministry of Mr. Newton; for while it must not be
concealed, that the beginning and consummation of personal religion
in the heart is to be attributed to the immediate action of a
supernatural power, yet it is equally evident that its progress in
allaying the fear that produceth torment, in instilling the peace
which passeth all understanding, and in elevating and fixing the
affections on things above, is usually in proportion to the accuracy
and extent of the theological information which is possessed.

"Many," says an interesting writer, "are too prone to look for a
conversion always uniform, not only in its effects, but in its
operation, and too much bordering on the miraculous. The soul
must be first overwhelmed with fear--then pierced by grief and
anguish--then plunged into despair--then suddenly filled with hope,
and peace, and joy; and the person must be able to determine the day
on which, and the sermon, or the paragraph, or the providence by
which the change was wrought. But this is by no means necessarily,
or generally the case. There is a variety in the temperaments
and habits of men, and in the methods employed to bring them to
repentance. We should remember that there are differences of
administration, but the same Lord; that often he prefers to the
earthquake, the wind, and the fire, the small still voice; that he
can draw by the cords of love and the bands of a man; that he can
work as effectually by slow as by instantaneous exertions; and that
he may change the soul in a manner so gradual and mild, as to be
scarcely discernible to any but the glorious Author. And here we
are furnished with evidence from analogy. In nature some of God's
works insensibly issue in others, and it is impossible for us to
draw the line of distinction. The path of the just is as the shining
light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. But who
can ascertain which ray begins, or which ends the dawn? If you
are unable to trace the progress of the Divine life, judge by the
result. When you perceive the effects of conversion, never question
the cause. And if perplexed by a number of circumstantial inquiries,
be satisfied if you are able to say, One thing I know, that whereas
I was once blind, now I see."

The chastened seriousness of spirit which Miss Holmes exhibited, and
the new course of reading which she adopted, induced the family to
suppose that she was taking a religious turn, though she cautiously
abstained from making any reference to it. She felt convinced that
some essential change had taken place, yet at times she doubted if
it was anything more than the effect of her own spontaneous thoughts
and reflections; and as she had, more than once, experienced a
mental excitement of a similar nature, she rejoiced with trembling.
She knew that the righteous hold on their way, because they are kept
by the power of God through faith unto salvation; but as she was
often perplexed, when endeavouring to ascertain whether she belonged
to that specific denomination of character, she could not anticipate
the issue of her impressions with unmingled satisfaction. She felt a
distaste for those objects of pursuit and sources of gratification
which had acquired such a powerful ascendency over her; and now she
longed to partake of the more refined enjoyment which results from
communion with the members of the household of faith and the public
exercises of devotion; but she dreaded the prospect of coming into
contact with the world, lest another relapse of feeling should take
place, which would leave her still more insensible than ever to the
unseen realities of eternity.

The Saviour, in his various offices, was now precious to her, as he
is to all them that believe. She dwelt with holy awe and delight
on that union of majesty and condescension, purity and compassion,
justice and grace, which he displays in his mediatorial character;
but she was apprehensive, that when exposed to the rival influence
of temporal pursuits, her mind would again be enslaved by their
charms, and she would lose the relish she now felt for her new
themes of contemplation and enjoyment.

Thus it is wisely ordained, that at every period in the experience
of the Christian, there shall be some circumstances to perplex
his judgment--some uncertainty to darken his prospect--some
apprehensions to disturb his peace, to convince him that here
'perfect bliss cannot be found;' and that no attainments, however
high--that no anticipations, however bright and animating--are
capable, while we are encompassed with infirmities, of yielding
unmingled satisfaction and delight. At times Miss Holmes felt very
anxious to disclose to some one the change through which her mind
was now passing, that she might have the advantage of Christian
sympathy and guidance; but the perplexing question was, to whom
should she make the communication. She often thought of speaking
to her mother, but when she made the attempt, her courage failed
her. At length she addressed the following letter to her friend
Mrs. Loader, who had evinced so much solicitude for her spiritual
welfare:--

     "THE ELMS, _16th Oct., 18--_.

     "MY DEAR FRIEND,--I am much obliged by your affectionate
     epistle, which I received on the 10th; and I regret that you
     should deem any apology necessary for the introduction of that
     specific advice which it contains. My obvious indifference to
     the momentous question of personal religion, and my growing
     conformity to the customs and habits of the gay world, must,
     I have no doubt, have given you very considerable uneasiness;
     and I assure you that it often plunged me into the deepest
     depression of spirit. I was often cheerful, but never happy;
     often trying fresh expedients to divert my attention from what
     I deemed _the gloomy subject_, but never could succeed; and
     though I became more insensible to the attractions of religion
     as I grew in years, yet I exposed myself more frequently to
     the keenness of its reproofs and the awful terrors of its
     threatenings. My associates, who had not had the privilege of a
     pious education, could enjoy the world, and treat with levity
     the prohibitory injunctions of the Scriptures, but I could not.
     I never could divest myself of the full conviction that God has
     the first claim on the affections of the heart; and that he has
     appointed a day when every human being 'must appear before the
     judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things
     done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be
     good or bad.' These thoughts would rush into my mind, not only
     when alone, but also when in the midst of the gayest company,
     and by no expedient could I succeed in driving them away.

     "It was under the most agonizing mental conflict I ever
     sustained, that I hailed our tour to the west as likely to
     dissolve the fatal charm by which I was subdued and enslaved;
     but I found, on my return, that my _heart_ had undergone no
     change, as I often secretly anticipated a re-entrance into
     those scenes which my conscience so severely condemned. I once
     heard Mr. Newton remark, that as our dangers often spring out
     of our comforts, so the greatest blessings sometimes grow out
     of our heaviest afflictions. The correctness of this remark I
     can _now_ attest from experience. It was on our return from
     Devonshire that I met with the accident which has confined me a
     close prisoner for more than two months; but to that accident
     which I called disastrous, I owe all my present happiness and my
     prospect of eternal glory.

     "You express a hope that I have given the book which you so
     kindly presented to me, a candid perusal, presuming that no
     season can be more favourable for such subjects of inquiry than
     those which we denominate afflictive. Yes, my dear friend, I
     have read it, though I felt such a reluctance to do so that I
     put it from me several times; and had not my word stood pledged
     to read it, I had still been a stranger to its soul-stirring
     contents. I read on carelessly till I came to the tenth chapter,
     when the subject fixed my attention, and I hope penetrated
     my heart. Then I _felt_ that I was a sinner--then I _felt_
     that I stood solitary and alone, in the immediate presence of
     my Legislator and my Judge, confounded, because righteously
     condemned--then I _felt_ that I needed a Saviour. I have had
     many strong convictions of the truth and the necessity of
     religion in the earlier seasons of my life; but those produced
     on this occasion were more clear, and full, and impressive, than
     any that ever preceded them. They came with an authority which
     I could not resist; they prevented all vacillation of mind,
     and constrained me, with a force which I had no disposition to
     withstand, to yield to their power; and though my evil heart
     of unbelief would sometimes suggest that all is a delusion,
     artfully practised on my imagination by Satan, who sometimes
     transforms himself into an angel of light, yet I can say, in
     reference to Him who is the chief among ten thousand--'Whom
     having not seen, I love; in whom, though now I see him not, yet
     believing, I rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'

     "When, my dear friend, I received that present from your hand,
     I did not calculate on the effects which it was ordained to
     produce; for though I feel unworthy of the notice of the Friend
     of sinners, yet, on reviewing the recent change which has taken
     place in my sentiments, my taste, and my feelings, I cannot
     avoid ascribing it to his sovereign and predetermined will.
     But though I am fully convinced that a great change has been
     produced, yet I must not conceal from you the dread I sometimes
     feel lest it should prove only a momentary excitement. I now can
     see the vanity of the world; but shall I do so when I am again
     able to go about? I now can consecrate myself to the service of
     the Redeemer; but shall I have courage to take up the cross and
     follow him, when again enticed to mingle with the gay votaries
     of fashion? It is not my province to dictate to infinite Wisdom,
     nor prescribe the method by which my religious principles shall
     be tried; but it is my earnest, and my daily prayer, to be kept
     within the walls of my solitary retreat, till He whose I am, and
     whom I wish to serve, has prepared me to resist every temptation
     by which I may be assailed, and to perform every duty which may
     devolve upon me.

     "Now that I have given you this explanation, you will doubtless
     be able to account for that singular variation in my disposition
     and manners, which you must have so often noticed; but if
     you had known the strange revulsion of feeling to which my
     poor unhappy mind was perpetually subjected, you would have
     considered it as perfectly natural. I am by nature a child
     of imitation--apt to catch the spirit and temper of those
     with whom I come into contact--easily captivated by imposing
     manners--averse to all appearance of singularity--volatile and
     impetuous in my disposition; yet at the early age of twelve,
     I was so powerfully impressed with the truth and necessity of
     personal piety, that I do not think I ever spent a day without
     giving it my most serious attention. Hence, when carried away
     by the example of others to scenes of gaiety, my spirits would
     naturally rise to a high pitch of feeling, yet on returning to
     my graver and more important subjects of reflection, I felt so
     abased and confounded--so terrified and alarmed in prospect of
     futurity, that I could scarcely endure the anguish I was doomed
     to suffer. I do not know that I can better describe the state of
     my mind, than by quoting the language of Dr. Watts, with a few
     slight alterations:--

      'I was a helpless captive, sold
        Under the power of sin:
      I could not do the good I would,
        Nor keep my conscience clean.

      'My God, I cry'd with fervent breath,
        For some kind power to save,
      To break the yoke of sin and death,
        And thus redeem the slave.'

     "The charge which is often brought against religion, as
     tending to abridge our comforts, and induce a melancholy and
     dejection of spirit, I can repel from experience. Infallible
     Truth declares, that her ways are ways of pleasantness, and her
     paths are paths of peace; and now I know, and feel it. My mind,
     which has been tossed about on the surging billows of doubt and
     perplexity, has at last gained that haven of rest, where, I
     trust, it is destined to remain.

     "No one of my family has any knowledge of the present state
     of my feelings, as I have cautiously abstained from making
     any allusion to religious subjects; not because I am ashamed
     of religion, but because I am unwilling to make a premature
     profession; and though perhaps you may censure me for
     withholding from my dear parents a communication which is so
     calculated to give them pleasure, yet if I should be permitted,
     after having made it, to relapse into my former course of
     gaiety and folly, the disappointment will be so great that it
     may entail on them perpetual sorrow. Pray that I may be kept
     in the evil hour--that I may be enabled to walk circumspectly
     towards them that are without--that I may have courage to make
     a profession of my attachment to the Lord Jesus, and grace to
     adorn it, and at length be presented faultless before the
     presence of his glory, with exceeding joy.

     "I need not say how acceptable another letter from you would be;
     but I certainly should prefer a personal interview, if you could
     make it convenient to pay us a visit. I am happy to inform you
     that I am much better, and that all the rest of the family are
     well.--Yours affectionately,

     LOUISA.

     "To Mrs. Loader."

True piety does not act to be seen of men, nor speak to gain their
applause; but though for a season it may remain unobserved, yet
the meekness of its spirit and the lustre of its character are
marks by which it will always indubitably be known. For the reasons
which have been previously assigned, Miss Holmes had abstained
from communicating to her family the change which had taken place
in her sentiments and feelings; but she was not able to conceal
from them the external proofs of it which her conduct and her
occasional conversation necessarily supplied. As she was reserved on
the subject, so were her parents; and though they felt anxious to
ascertain if her great seriousness of manners was anything more than
a recurrence of her former deep depression of spirit, yet they knew
not how to do it.

It often happens that young persons can make a more free statement
of their religious experience to strangers or distant friends
than they can to their own parents; but this in general argues
some essential defect in the bringing up and arrangements of the
family. There may be, I grant, on the part of the child, in the
earlier stages of his experience, a reluctance to disclose to any
one "the secret movements and operations of his heart towards the
best of Beings;" but if Christian parents were to incorporate, in
their course of religious instruction, the habit of a free and
unreserved conversation on the practical effects of truth, and if
they would occasionally retire with their children, to pray _with
them_ and _for them_, specifically and alone, it would imperceptibly
beget such a union and intimacy of spirit, that _they_ would be
no less anxious to unburden to them the anxieties and sorrows of
their heart, than the parent would feel delighted to become their
spiritual counsellor and friend.

When Miss Holmes was sitting with her mother, one Sabbath evening,
an allusion happened to be made to the sermon which had been
preached at church, and with which Mrs. Holmes expressed her
dissatisfaction. "Perhaps," remarked Louisa, "it would be difficult
to procure a more pleasant residence than our own, or one which
is more conducive to our general health; but I assure you that I
often deplore the consequences which must inevitably result, from
our being deprived of the privilege of attending an evangelical
ministry."

"It gives me pleasure, my dear, to hear you deplore the loss of such
a privilege, as it is a proof that you value it."

"Yes, Mamma, I do value it, but now, alas! I have no prospect of
enjoying it. Yet I feel more for others, than I feel for myself,
especially for the junior members of our family; as I fear, now that
they are removed from the restraints which pure evangelical truth
imposes on the heart and conscience, they will devote themselves
to the pleasures of the world, which will give them a distaste for
those of religion."

"And does my dear Louisa then prefer the pleasures of religion to
those of the world?"

"I trust, Mamma, I do; though I am almost afraid to speak with
confidence on such a delicate and important question. I know from
past experience, that there may be deep religious impressions, and
powerful religious excitement, even while the heart retains all
its evil propensities and antipathies; but I hope it hath pleased
God to employ my late affliction as the means of bringing me into
fellowship with himself, and his Son Jesus Christ. I murmured when
he smote me, but now I can say, 'I know, O Lord, that thy judgments
are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. Before I
was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.'"

"Both your father and I have thought," said Mrs. Holmes, "that God
was dealing graciously with your soul, and we have often prayed
that you might come out of this affliction a new creature in Christ
Jesus; yet we could not overcome the strange reluctance we felt to
speak to you on the subject; but as it hath pleased God to answer
our prayers, I must convey the glad tidings to your father, who will
embrace you as one alive from the dead."

"As you have drawn me into a premature disclosure on this subject,
I certainly cannot object to your communicating to my dear father
the substance of our conversation, but I must request that you will
take no notice of it to any other person. For if I should now make
a profession of religion, and on the return of health and energy,
should relapse into my former course of gaiety and folly, I shall do
essential injury to others."

"But, my dear, you may be 'confident of this very thing, that he
which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of
Jesus Christ.'"

"Yes, I know, that when the work of grace is begun, it will be
carried on, notwithstanding the various impediments which may
obstruct its progress, or the artifices which may be employed by
the great adversary to effect its destruction; but I am not quite
satisfied that what I feel _is_ the work of grace. It may be nothing
more than the effect of my own fears; and if so, it will disappear
as soon as they subside; or it may be the necessary consequence of
that train of serious thought and reflection, which a lengthened
indisposition generally originates; and if so, every trace of its
existence will be obliterated, when I again intermingle in the
pursuits of active life."

"But have you not, my dear Louisa, _tasted_ that the Lord is
gracious, as well as _felt_ his terrors which have made you afraid?
and can you, on cool reflection, suppose that He will ever abandon
you, now that you have surrendered your heart to him?"

"I have felt none of the terrors of religion, which may be an
essential defect in my experience; and the excitements which I have
ascribed to the love of God shed abroad in my heart by the power of
the Holy Ghost, may prove the momentary joy of the stony-ground
hearer, in whom the seed of truth could not thrive, because it took
no root. If, after a period of trial, I am induced to believe that I
have felt the renovating power of Divine grace, I trust that I shall
then have courage given me to make a decided profession of the faith
of Christ, without regarding the remarks to which it may subject me;
but till then, it is my earnest wish, that you intrust to no one but
my dear father the communication which I have almost unintentionally
made to you. I have seen so many throw off their religious
profession, and return to the course which they had abandoned; and I
have such a dread of apostasy, that it is my fixed determination to
have some practical proof of the efficacy of my principles to resist
temptation, and bring the dispositions of my heart into subjection
to the authority of Jesus Christ, before I make any profession."

"I approve, my dear, of your decision; but while jealous of
yourself, you must guard against mistrusting the faithfulness and
loving-kindness of God your Saviour, who has pledged his honour to
keep you by his power through faith unto salvation."



CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE.


The scene which opens on the imagination of the young Christian
is often so beautiful and enchanting--it so deeply fixes his
attention, and enchains his affections--that he turns with an eye
of comparative indifference from the objects and pursuits to which
he has been previously devoted, under a full conviction that they
cannot _now_ yield him the gratification they once did; and that
he cannot _now_ derive permanent happiness, except from that new
source of felicity which he has discovered. It is, when he is under
these novel and powerful impressions, that the long neglected
Bible discloses new beauties; no theme of meditation or discussion
presents any subduing charm in comparison with Christ Jesus, and him
crucified; and having felt the transition from a state of spiritual
death to a newness of life, to be attended by such hallowed
emotions, he is in danger of anticipating too large a portion of
spiritual enjoyment, which not unfrequently becomes the occasion of
great mental perplexity, and sometimes of deep depression.

During the continuance of her indisposition Miss Holmes felt so
intensely interested in reading her Bible, that she might clearly
understand the sublime theory of the Christian faith, and so
absorbed in her spiritual exercises, that her health sustained
some injury by the severity of her application. As a very natural
consequence, a shade of melancholy was cast over her spirit. She
was forewarned of the possibility of such an effect being produced;
but the usual apology which she made to her pious mother was, "Can
I take too much interest in that important subject, into which
angels desire to look? or can I ever hope for a more favourable time
for its investigation than the present, when I am precluded from
mingling in the employments or the amusements of the world?"

The following form of self-dedication to God she now drew up and
signed, having vowed in the most solemn manner to observe it to the
full extent of her pledge:--

"Eternal and unchangeable Jehovah! thou glorious Creator of heaven
and earth, and adorable Lord of angels and men, I desire with the
deepest humiliation and abasement of soul, to bow down at this
time in thine awful presence, and earnestly pray, that thou wilt
impress my heart with a clear perception of thine unutterable and
inconceivable glories.

"To thee do I now come, invited by the exceeding great and precious
promises of thy Word; trusting for acceptance in the efficacy of
the Saviour's death, beseeching thee to 'be merciful unto me a
sinner.' The irregular propensities of my depraved nature have in
ten thousand aggravated instances wrought to bring forth fruit unto
death. And if thou shouldst be strict to mark my offences, I must be
silent under a load of guilt, and immediately sink into destruction.
But thou hast graciously called me to return to thee, though I have
been a backsliding child. I come unto thee, O Lord, convinced not
only of my sin, but of my folly; and while I implore mercy through
the mediation of Jesus Christ, I would be no less importunate for
the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit, that I may be entirely
conformed to thee. Permit me to bring unto thee those powers and
faculties which I have ungratefully alienated from thy service; and
receive, I beseech thee, thy poor revolted creature, who is now
convinced of thy right to her, and who desires nothing in the world
so much as to be thine.

"I bring to thee a dark benighted mind, to be illuminated with
Divine knowledge. Thou hast the words of eternal life; I therefore
resign my understanding to thy teaching. I bring to thee a corrupt
and deceitful heart; do thou cleanse and make it upright before
thee. Do thou expel all the evils which lurk within it, and make it
a temple for thyself. May the same mind which was in Christ Jesus be
in me. May I possess the same humility which he displayed, the same
indifference to the riches and the pleasures of the world, the same
spirit of zeal for thine honour, and of benevolence towards man. May
I ever wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; be enabled to
adorn the profession which I hope to make; and finally be admitted
into the kingdom of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

"And I do now most solemnly give myself unto thee, as one whom
thou hast made alive from the dead, with a firm and unalterable
determination to live devoted to thee; loving thee supremely,
walking in thy fear, and glorifying thee in my body and my spirit,
which are thine."

The practice of self-dedication, which is often recommended to the
young Christian, may tend to increase his reverence for God, and to
make him more watchful over his own spirit; but unless he has very
clear perceptions of the way of salvation, it may be productive
of essential spiritual injury. For though we are told in the most
express language, that "we are saved by grace through faith, and
that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest
any man should boast;" yet when the distinction between obedience,
as the fruit of faith, and obedience as the hope of reward, is
not accurately and perpetually observed, there is a danger of
contracting a self-righteous spirit, which by aiming at personal
perfection for ostentatious display, or as a source of mental
confidence, may bring the soul into a state of spiritual bondage.

Miss Holmes having most solemnly dedicated herself to God, and
formed a sanguine opinion of the high capabilities of the renewed
mind, began to prescribe a set of rules for her self-government,
which she resolved to observe. If these rules had related merely to
her conduct in social life, she might have kept them; but as they
included the regulation of the disposition, and the frame of her
mind towards God, they were founded on a mistaken conception of her
own ability. They imperceptibly diverted her attention from the
perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, by faith in which sinners
are accepted and justified, to a laborious effort to attain a high
degree of sinless excellence; and as she progressively discovered
so many, and such lamentable defects in her obedience, the peace of
mind which she enjoyed when "first she knew the Lord" was destroyed,
and she gradually sunk into a state of despondency. By making this
fatal, yet common mistake, she was led to the conclusion, that the
attainments of the genuine Christian were placed beyond her reach,
and that it would be an act of presumption if she attempted to
acquire them.

An evangelical ministry is instituted to promote the edification
of them that believe, no less than to convert sinners from the
error of their ways; to guard them against those misconceptions of
truth, which may prove injurious to their happiness and spiritual
prosperity; and to explain that mysteriousness which rests over
their earlier experience, when there is a constant, and often
a rapid interchange of hope and of fear, of sorrow and of joy,
of a bright prospect of future blessedness, and a foreboding
apprehension of future woe. Those who attend such a ministry,
partake of the advantages of it, without being conscious of the
benefit which they receive; but if indisposition, or any other
circumstance, prevent a Christian from availing himself of this
ordinance of grace, he may linger for a long time, especially in the
earlier stages of the spiritual life, in a state of great mental
perplexity, and may gradually sink into a morbid depression, without
being able either to remove or account for it.

Domestic engagements prevented Mrs. Loader from paying a visit to
the Elms; but the following letter is a proof of the deep interest
which she took in the welfare of her friend, and also of her ability
to give her judicious counsel:--

     "MY DEAR LOUISA,--I am fearful lest you should construe my
     silence into indifference; but I flatter myself, that the
     following explanation will protect me from such an imputation.
     I was from home when yours of last month arrived; and since my
     return, family matters so engaged my attention, that I have
     been prevented replying to it. It is impossible for words to
     express the pleasure I felt on the perusal of your first very
     interesting letter; and though the degree of that pleasure was
     somewhat diminished on the reception of your second, yet I
     cannot refrain from offering you my sincere congratulations,
     on account of what the Lord has done for you, and is still
     doing. Clouds and darkness are often round about him, while
     he is silently and unobserved carrying on his own work; and
     when it is not in our power to trace the operation of his
     hand, we are required to stand still, and he will show us his
     salvation. In the early experience of the Christian there are
     many circumstances which perplex and confound him, and which
     appear to place his good hope in the most imminent danger; but
     it is the province of faith calmly to wait the issue, which is
     certain, and will be glorious.

     "I am not surprised, my dear Louisa, that you should regret
     having made what you call a premature disclosure of your
     Christian experience, especially as you begin to entertain some
     strong doubts of its being genuine. This is very natural, and
     very common. If the experimental influence of the truth fell
     under the immediate observation of our senses, we should be
     able to mark its progress with the most perfect accuracy; but
     as the seat of its first and most powerful operations is the
     heart--that province which the eye can never penetrate; and as
     it merely diffuses itself over the exercise of our intellectual
     and moral faculties, without acting alone, and independently of
     them, we almost necessarily, at times, suspect whether we have
     ever felt it. It is true, we may see a change in our conduct,
     and a change in the disposition and temper of our mind; but as
     this uniformly takes place in consequence of our full conviction
     of its propriety, we may, especially in a gloomy hour, be
     incapable of tracing it up to a supernatural cause.

     "The first impressions of Divine truth on the heart are
     generally strong and deep--they produce a powerful excitement
     of the affections; and such is the intense degree of interest
     which is sometimes felt at such a period, that no variation
     is anticipated, except it be some higher and more blissful
     elevation of soul--some ascent to a spiritual Pisgah, from
     whence the lot of our future inheritance with the saints in
     light may be clearly seen. But when the mind becomes more
     familiar with the sublime truths of religion, they lose somewhat
     of their novelty; and though they still retain their ascendency
     over the judgment, yet the impressions which they produce become
     less powerful. This change in the feelings often induces the
     young Christian to suspect, that the cause of its original
     production must be found, not in the grace of God, but the
     uninfluenced operations of his own faculties and passions. It is
     when the mind is thus variously exercised, that the invisible
     enemy of our peace often comes to augment our perplexity, by
     insinuating, that if we were renewed, the fact of our renovation
     would be so conspicuous, that we could never doubt it--that
     if we did really love the Lord, our love would glow with
     undiminished ardour--that if our faith were genuine, we should
     never be permitted to stagger at any of the promises of God
     through unbelief--that if we were made partakers of the Divine
     nature, we should for ever escape the corruption that is in the
     world--and if our spiritual emotions were actually produced
     by the operation of a supernatural power, they would neither
     subside nor fluctuate.

     "If then, my dear Louisa, you should doubt, where others have
     doubted before you, and if you should feel those causes of
     perplexity and depression operating on your mind, under which
     the faithful in Christ Jesus in every age have laboured, you
     ought to comfort yourself by the reflection that you are now
     passing through the usual trials of Christian experience. If you
     had no doubts, you would have cause to fear; and if you knew no
     change of feeling, you would have cause to suspect your change
     of heart.

      'Come then--a still, small whisper in your ear,--
      _She_ has no hope, who never had a fear:
      And _she_ that never doubted of _her_ state,
      _She_ may perhaps--perhaps _she_ may, too late.'

     "I am happy to find, by your last letter, that you have
     disclosed the state of your mind to your dear parents; for
     while I certainly approve of the motive which induced you to
     conceal it from them, yet I think you have acted wisely in
     breaking through your resolution. As they so often wept over
     you, when you were living without God, and without Christ in
     the world; and have, with so much fervour, intermingled their
     supplications at the footstool of the Divine throne for your
     conversion, it would have been an act of unkindness to have kept
     them in a state of ignorance on a subject in which they are so
     deeply interested. You should communicate to them not only the
     general fact, that you are _now become 'a fellow-heir of the
     grace of life,'_ but also the perplexities which disquiet and
     depress you, as they are so well qualified to give you that
     instruction and consolation which you may require. It is by
     giving vent to the feelings of the soul, that we gain relief
     from our most poignant griefs; and though you perhaps can more
     readily communicate your experience to an absent friend than
     to your own parents, yet, if you make the effort, the barrier
     which obstructs an unreserved disclosure of all you feel, and
     all you fear, will soon be broken down, and then your spiritual
     intercourse will be free and unfettered. It will require, on
     your part, I have no doubt, a great sacrifice of feeling, to
     take the step which I now venture to recommend; but you know who
     has said, My grace shall be sufficient for thee--as thy day,
     thy strength shall be; and if you by prayer and supplication
     with thanksgiving, make your request unto Him, He will give you
     wisdom and strength to follow the advice I now offer.

     "I have often regretted your removal from London, especially
     when I found that you are not favoured with an evangelical
     ministry in the church. This circumstance must operate as a
     serious drawback upon your social happiness; and now you are
     brought to feel the importance of religion, I am not surprised
     that you should deeply deplore it. You ask me what you are
     to do, now you are able to attend public worship. This is an
     important question, but I feel no hesitation in giving you the
     advice which I have given to others, who have been placed in
     similar circumstances. If there be no Dissenting chapel within
     a convenient distance, in which the gospel is preached, go to
     your parish church as usual, to avoid the appearance of Sabbath
     profanation; but if there be one, I think it your duty to attend
     there. I do not recommend you to secede, for the mere sake of
     secession; but for your spiritual improvement, which will depend
     more on a pure evangelical ministry, than any other secondary
     cause. Some, I am aware, would urge you to prefer your parish
     church to a Dissenting chapel, even if the minister be an
     irreligious man, and to stay there till it shall please God to
     introduce the gospel into it; but as it is not in my power to
     reconcile such advice with the injunction of our Lord, _Take
     heed what ye hear_, you cannot expect that I can approve of such
     a course. The eminently devout Christian loves the habitation
     of the Lord's house, and the place where his honour dwelleth;
     but we have no reason to believe that God visits any place with
     the manifestations of his love, where the minister does not
     preach salvation by grace through faith. But suffer the word of
     exhortation. You are now coming out amongst the difficulties
     of a public profession of religion; one friend may recommend
     you to adopt one plan, and another, another; and the more you
     consult, the more you may be perplexed, till at length you may
     be incapable of coming to any decision. To obviate this evil,
     go and meditate seriously on the following passage--'Trust in
     the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
     understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall
     direct thy paths.' Reduce to practice the admonition of the wise
     man, and you will find that the Lord will give wisdom, as well
     as strength.

     "I am much obliged by your kind invitation to the Elms, and
     intend, as soon as I can leave home, to pay you a visit, when
     I hope to find you in perfect health. Remember me very kindly
     to every member of your family, and believe me to be, yours
     affectionately,

     E. LOADER."

One of the most common-place charges which is brought against
evangelical religion, is, that it has a tendency to make its
possessor melancholy; and if we were to form our judgment of it
from the appearance and manner of some who profess it, we should
be disposed to admit its correctness. They not only abstain
from all the pleasures and amusements of the social circle; but
habitually wear a gloom on their countenance, which indicates a
singular dejection and moroseness of spirit. But this dejection
of spirit, which we may sometimes discover in a professor of
evangelical religion, is not produced by his religious principles,
but by his sense of personal guilt, and his want of that assurance
of forgiveness, which the gospel of Jesus Christ is intended to
convey. He may be permitted to remain for a season, by the Holy One
of Israel, whose laws he has violated, and whom he has neglected
to glorify, under the sentence of self-condemnation; but when he
is enabled to rely on the atonement made by Jesus Christ, and to
appropriate the promise of mercy, he enjoys the peace which passeth
all understanding. If then, we wish to form a correct estimate
of the real tendency of evangelical truth, we must not go to the
penitent sinner while he is suffering under the deep convictions
of guilt, as then he is more prone to put from him the words of
consolation, than to embrace them; but we must go to the established
believer, who, having received the truth in the love of it, is
enjoying its sacred and blissful influence. He will repel the charge
as a libel on his faith, and unblushingly avow, that he never knew
solid and substantial happiness till he derived it from communion
with God, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, and a hope of being
presented faultless in his immediate presence. And though the spirit
of scepticism, which is so prevalent in all ranks of society, may
ridicule such an avowal, as a delusion attempted to be practised on
human credulity, yet surely no one, on reflection, can presume to
say that a Christian is not competent to bear testimony to a fact of
his own experience. The religious principles which he has embraced,
are represented by those who have never felt their influence, as
having a tendency to make their possessor melancholy; and yet he
declares that he has had more mental satisfaction since he embraced
them than he ever had before. Whose testimony shall we admit to be
most conclusive?--the testimony of those who are entirely ignorant
of the subject, or of those whose knowledge qualifies them to
speak? Suppose, for example, a question to arise respecting the
excellencies or defects of a piece of music, we should not venture
to place any dependence on the opinion of a man who has no taste
for the science. If we did, we should expose ourselves to ridicule
or contempt. On such a question we should require the opinion of
a competent judge; and I appeal to the sound sense of my readers,
if they can allow those persons to pronounce a judgment on the
tendency of religion who have never felt its holy influence on the
heart. They may express their opinion, and they often do express it,
but of what value or importance is it in relation to the subject?
They may say that its tendency is to make us unhappy; but how can
they prove it? Not certainly by appealing to the obvious design of
Christianity, for that has been so unequivocally announced by the
celestial messengers, that we cannot misconceive it. "And the angel
said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of
great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this
day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly
host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace, good-will toward men." And if they venture to appeal
to the experience of the religious man, he candidly says, "I am
happy; but my happiness differs from yours, it takes its rise from
a different source, and possesses qualities which are peculiarly
its own; it is more pure, more exquisite, more substantial, because
more intellectual and spiritual than yours. My happiness is the
peace that passeth all understanding." But when we mention peace,
we mean not the stupid security of a mind that refuses to reflect;
we mean a tranquillity which rests on a tried and durable basis--a
peace which, founded on the oath and promise of Him who cannot
lie, and springing from the consciousness of an ineffable alliance
with the Father of spirits, makes us to share in his fulness, and
become a partner with him in his purity; a repose serene as the
unruffled wave, which reflects the heaven from its bosom, while it
is accompanied with a feeling of exultation and triumph, natural to
such as are conscious that ere long, having overcome, they shall
possess all things.

There are many periods in the history of human life, when the
power of religious principles over the mind commands the respect,
and excites the admiration of the most inveterate infidel. Go
and see the poor Christian, contented amidst his privations--the
suffering Christian, patient under his protracted affliction--the
dying Christian, resigned and happy in prospect of his approaching
dissolution; and if you do not pay a spontaneous homage to the
influence of the principles which have such an effect in elevating
and supporting the soul of man, when visited by these direful
calamities, it must be referred either to a want of taste, or to a
want of judgment.

    "He is the happy man, whose life ev'n now
    Shows somewhat of that happier life to come;
    Who, doom'd to an obscure, but tranquil state,
    Is pleased with it; and, were he free to choose,
    Would make his fate his choice.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Content, indeed, to sojourn while he must
    Below the skies, but having there his home.
    The world o'erlooks him in her busy search
    Of objects more illustrious in her view;
    And, occupied as earnestly as she,
    Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the world.
    She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not;
    He seeks not hers, for he has proved them vain.
    He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
    Pursuing gilded flies; and such he deems
    Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
    Therefore in contemplation is his bliss,
    Whose power is such, that whom she lifts from earth
    She makes familiar with a heaven unseen,
    And shows him glories yet to be revealed."



DOUBTS AND PERPLEXITIES.


The change which had taken place in Miss Holmes, became the topic
of general conversation in the circle of her gay associates; and
though some of them predicted that she would again appear amongst
them, when "the fit of melancholy" was over, their anticipations
were disappointed. She returned the calls of inquiry as soon as
her health permitted; but she left a deep impression on the mind
of all her friends, that worldly pleasures had lost their charms
for her, and that other and nobler objects of pursuit now engrossed
her attention. One of the first proofs of her decision, was
consenting to become secretary to a female branch of an Auxiliary
Bible Society, which was established in the vicinity of the Elms,
and which brought her into immediate connection with several
pious families. Having derived so much spiritual benefit from the
Scriptures during her long confinement, she felt anxious that they
should be universally circulated; and voluntarily devoted a large
portion of her time and her influence to secure the co-operation of
others in accomplishing this important object.

One of the most conspicuous professors in her neighbourhood was a
Mr. Corrie, whose father had attended the ministry of Romaine, and
transmitted to his son a profound veneration for the memory of that
distinguished clergyman. He was a widower, rather advanced in life,
a man of wealth; and had residing with him two unmarried sisters.
These ladies were amiable and intelligent--zealous and active in
the cause of humanity and religion--and their chief delight was in
going about doing good. Mr. Corrie usually spent the forenoon in
his study, while his sisters went forth on their visits of mercy to
the cottages of the poor; and they generally passed their evenings
in agreeable and profitable conversation, or in reading to each
other. They often read a portion of Mr. Romaine's Works, which they
considered the standard of orthodoxy; and though they were willing
to submit every religious opinion to the test of Scripture, yet they
never thought of subjecting his opinions to such an ordeal. His
treatises on the Life and Triumph of Faith, and some Letters which
have been published since his decease, they regarded with almost as
much reverence as the Epistles of the inspired writers; believing
that no author equalled him in correctness of sentiment and depth of
experience.

Miss Holmes, in her perambulations on behalf of the Bible
Society, happened to call on the Misses Corrie, to solicit their
subscriptions, just as they were sitting down to tea; and being
pressed to remain, she consented to spend the evening with them.
Their cheerfulness--the spirituality of mind which they discovered
in their conversation--the fervent spirit of devotion which was
apparent in Mr. Corrie when engaged in family prayer--and the
confidence with which they spoke of their interest in Christ,
operated so powerfully on her feelings, that she remained with them
much longer than she intended; and when the lateness of the hour
compelled her to leave, she could not do so without requesting
permission to repeat her visit. "We shall be happy to see you at
any time," said Miss Corrie; "and if it be in our power to teach
you the way of the Lord more perfectly, we shall consider ourselves
highly honoured."

Religious conversation is one of the most useful methods of
instruction and consolation we can employ; but sometimes, when
a false standard of experience is adopted, it becomes the means
of perplexing and distracting inquiring minds. Our Lord taught
his disciples, as they were able to receive instruction; keeping
alive their attention, while he allayed the restlessness of an
unprofitable curiosity, by saying--"I have yet many things to say
unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit
of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall
not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he
speak: and he will shew you things to come." And on this wise maxim
the Holy Spirit condescends to conduct His process of instruction,
that we may not be confounded by communications which we are unable
to understand; but be led on step after step in the province of
Divine knowledge, till we are "able to comprehend with all saints,
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know
the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we may be filled
with all the fulness of God." And it is of great importance, in
relation to the government of our conduct towards others, and for
our own tranquillity and spiritual improvement, that we rigorously
adhere to the same maxim; or we may inflict a wound, while
attempting to impart the consolations of our faith, and absolutely
retard that growth in knowledge which we are anxious to cultivate
and advance.

Mr. Corrie was eminently pious, but a man of rather weak
understanding, and who had associated with but few intelligent
Christians in the earlier part of his life. His first undigested
thoughts had grown up into firm and immoveable opinions; and though
he devoted a large portion of his time to reading the Scriptures,
yet, owing to the bias of which he was not conscious, he more
frequently searched for passages in support of his own peculiar
notions, than studied them to enlarge his views of the entire scheme
of Divine truth. He was positive, but not perverse; inflexibly
attached to his own belief, but not disposed to inveigh against
that of another; and though he imbibed some religious opinions
which have done great injury to the dignity and the amiability of
the Christian character, yet in him their tendency was neutralized
by the sweetness of his natural disposition and the fervour of his
devotional spirit. He dwelt much on the high points of election
and predestination; maintained with great pertinacity that human
nature undergoes no moral improvement, but remains as impure and
deceitful after the great change has taken place, as it was before;
and he considered an assurance of our final salvation so essential
to the nature of faith, that he would not regard as a true believer
a person who did not enjoy an unclouded prospect of eternal glory.
These topics bounded the range of his inquiry; and though at times
he would unawares make concessions which compromised their accuracy,
yet when apprized of his danger, he would step back with singular
adroitness, and resist the force of an argument to expose their
fallacy, by saying to an antagonist, "_You_ see through a glass
darkly, while I see face to face." If these opinions had been
confined within the circle of his own family, and the few pious
friends who were of the same theological school, he would have done
no injury, as their devotional spirit and habits would have proved
a safeguard against their pernicious tendency. But by bringing them
forward in promiscuous company, and by holding them up as essential
articles of the Christian faith, he often involved the judgment of
the young disciple in great perplexity, and unintentionally threw
down some of those barriers which the Scriptures have raised to
restrain the evil propensities of our nature. The effects of these
opinions on the mind of Miss Holmes may be seen in the following
letter, which she addressed to her friend Mrs. Loader, a few weeks
after her introduction to this family:--

     "MY DEAR FRIEND,--I should have replied earlier to your last
     letter; but since my convalescence I have been so engaged with
     my new duties, as the secretary to our Auxiliary Bible Society,
     that I have not been able to find time. I cannot express to you
     in words, how much pleasure I derived from your communication.
     It came at a season when my mind was sinking into despondency,
     and when I was tempted to give up my hope; but the Lord was
     pleased to employ it as the means of dispersing the darkness
     which was hovering around me, and I was enabled to rejoice once
     more in the light of his countenance. I had gained that elevated
     spot--that spiritual Pisgah, to which you so beautifully allude;
     from whence I could read

                'My title clear
       To mansions in the skies;'

     and from whence I thought I should never be displaced; but
     alas! I am again compelled to give utterance to a feeling of
     despondency.

     "I had my fears at the very commencement of my religious course,
     that my convictions and impressions, like the morning cloud and
     early dew, would soon pass away, and that I should be permitted
     to relapse into my original state of darkness and indifference;
     yet these fears came upon me only at times, like a sudden gust
     of wind in a serene evening. Now, alas! I have to mourn over
     their perpetual presence and desolating power; and I sometimes
     think, the doom of a backslider, or an apostate, awaits me. I
     shudder in anticipation of such a dreadful issue; and though
     I often pause and listen, yet I hear not the voice of the
     Comforter. Yet I cannot go back; perhaps I may say, when taking
     a survey of the more general state of my heart, I move slowly
     onwards between hope and fear.

     "I have lately formed an intimate friendship with two excellent
     ladies, who reside with their brother, not more than a quarter
     of a mile from the Elms; and in whose society I spend a
     considerable portion of my leisure hours. From the influence
     of their example, and from their conversation, I anticipated
     much spiritual improvement; but the oftener I visit them, the
     deeper I am plunged in mental despondency; and though I have
     ventured to allude, in indirect terms, to the perplexed state of
     my mind, yet I cannot obtain from them the words of consolation
     which I need. They and their brother have adopted the views of
     Romaine as their religious standard; and hold his memory in such
     veneration, that they rank him next to the inspired writers, and
     tacitly condemn all who, on any religious points, differ from
     him. They have lent me his treatises on the Life and Triumph of
     Faith, which I have read with close attention; but instead of
     deriving from them that satisfaction which I was led to expect,
     they have revived all my former fears, and invested them with
     a tenfold poignancy. He says, when addressing the believer,
     'Thou must be first persuaded of thine interest in Christ,
     before thou canst make use of it, and improve it; and therefore
     the knowledge of thy union with him must be clear and plain,
     before thou canst have a free and open communion with him.' I
     might have passed over this passage, without having taken any
     particular notice of it, had it not coincided with the belief
     which has been so often expressed by my excellent friends, the
     Misses Corrie and their brother. They say, in the most express
     terms, that an assurance of our interest in Christ, and of our
     final salvation, is essential to faith; but this assurance
     I do not possess. Sometimes I have thought that the Saviour
     has looked with an eye of compassion on me, and has raised my
     desponding soul to the ineffable manifestations of his love;
     but I cannot say that 'he gave himself for me.' I rely on the
     efficacy of his death for acceptance and eternal life; but I
     dare not say that my dependence is genuine. In some favoured
     moments, I have anticipated the blissful interview, when I have
     hoped to see him as he is, but I cannot speak with confidence--O
     no! I dare not. While my necessities compel me to go to the
     Saviour, and plead his promises, my want of assurance keeps me
     back; and thus, being suspended between these propelling and
     repulsive powers, I suffer extreme mental torture.

     "But this is not the only subject on which my mind is perplexed.
     In a conversation the other evening, when we were tracing up the
     bestowment of every good and every perfect gift to the free and
     unmerited grace of God, Mr. Corrie asserted, with the utmost
     degree of confidence, that no true believer in Jesus Christ can
     doubt his personal election to eternal life. This assertion,
     made by so good and amiable a man, and which met the decided
     approbation of his sisters, fell upon my ear with all the terror
     of the condemning sentence; and from that moment to the present,
     I have been driven, as an outcast, from the promises of mercy,
     I have read the Scriptures to satisfy my mind on this point,
     and there I read of sinners being chosen in Christ before the
     foundation of the world--of their being elected according to the
     foreknowledge of God the Father--of their being predestinated;
     but this high point appears invested with such terror, that my
     spirit recoils when attempting to approach it; and though I have
     prayed for faith to receive the hidden mysteries of revelation,
     and for wisdom to understand them, yet I cannot believe that I
     am one of the selected number, whose name has been enrolled in
     the Lamb's book of life. But should I feel all this terror on
     my spirit, when adverting to a doctrine which appears stated,
     with the utmost degree of explicitness, by the inspired writers,
     if I had that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit
     of God? Should I, if I possessed like precious faith, recoil,
     with almost instinctive dread, from a subject on which my pious
     friends speak with so much animation and delight? Surely there
     must be some defect in my experience, which renders me incapable
     of disengaging myself from the bondage of fear in which I am
     held; and which holds me back from a participation of that
     glorious liberty which I see enjoyed by the children of God
     around me.

     "There is one point of resemblance between my experience and
     that of my friends, too striking to pass unnoticed; yet, when
     reading the Scriptures, it has merely served to involve me in a
     still more perplexing labyrinth of difficulty. It is this--they
     maintain 'that our hearts undergo no moral improvement when
     the great renovation takes place, but remain as impure and
     deceitful as before.' I certainly did anticipate, when I first
     felt the influence of the truth, that I should grow in grace
     as well as in knowledge; and that I should attain to a more
     near conformity to the image of Jesus Christ; but on a close
     and impartial examination, I am compelled to believe that I
     have made no progress: indeed, I fear I have made a retrograde
     movement. I do not feel that calm satisfaction, or any of the
     blissful emotions I felt, when my attention was first arrested
     by the unseen realities of eternity. I do not feel that
     indifference to worldly objects, which I felt when confined to
     a couch of pain and languor. I am not so deeply affected by the
     unparalleled love of Christ, as I was when I first viewed him
     bearing away the iniquities of the people by the agonies of his
     death; nor does sin appear so exceedingly sinful, as when I
     first experienced its bitterness. I am neither so grateful for
     my mercies, nor so abased on account of my transgressions, as I
     was when the light of a supernatural manifestation first threw
     open to my view my neglected obligations and concealed defects.
     I feel, if possible, more fully convinced of the absolute need
     of a Saviour, than I was when I first felt the burden of guilt
     upon my conscience, but yet I am less able to exercise faith in
     him; and instead of that peace which was diffused through my
     heart when I first believed, I am sometimes driven to the verge
     of despondency.

     "I have not yet communicated to my dear parents the present
     perturbed state of my feelings, as I am unwilling to give one
     pang of sorrow to their tender bosom; and though I sometimes
     pray that the Lord would be pleased to turn away from me the
     face of his anger, and comfort me, yet I cannot pray in faith.
     Surely no one else ever felt what I feel, or suffered what I
     suffer. There are two verses in a favourite hymn, which, I
     believe, was composed by the venerable Newton, which I can
     repeat with intense earnestness:--

      'Lord, decide the doubtful case;
        Thou who art thy people's Sun,
      Shine upon thy work of grace,
        If it be indeed begun.

      'May I love thee more and more,
        If I love at all, I pray;
      If I have not lov'd before,
        Help me to begin to-day.'

     "I am happy to inform you, that there is a Dissenting chapel
     about three quarters of a mile from the Elms, in which the
     gospel is preached with great simplicity and power, and where
     my esteemed friends, the Corries, usually attend; so that a kind
     Providence has made that provision for our spiritual necessities
     outside the pale of the Establishment, which we should have
     preferred within, but which is denied us unless we go to a
     considerable distance. We have attended this chapel regularly
     for some time, and are much delighted with the minister. He is
     an amiable, unobtrusive man--imbued, I trust, with the spirit of
     his Master--cheerful in his disposition, but rather reserved.
     Those who are admitted into more familiar intimacy, speak of him
     in the highest terms of affectionate respect; and he is much
     esteemed by his people. You know we are attached to the Church;
     but, after mature deliberation, we are satisfied that it is
     our duty to hear the gospel; and as it is not preached by our
     Vicar, we feel it no less a duty than a privilege to go where
     the Lord has sent it. Our decision has offended some of the
     _anti-evangelical_ high church families, who regard the Church
     of England with as much veneration as a Roman Catholic would a
     relic of St. Peter; but we must obey the dictates of conscience,
     which will no longer permit us to attend a ministry where the
     truths of the gospel are not preached.

     "From some of our new clergyman's discourses I have derived
     consolation, but he has not touched on any of the points of
     perplexity in which my mind is involved; and though at times
     I have thought of soliciting a personal interview, to make
     known to him all I feel, and all I fear, yet I cannot assume a
     sufficient degree of confidence to do it. Indeed, I cannot speak
     freely on such delicate subjects to any one but to you; and I
     hope, if you cannot spare time to pay us your long promised
     visit, that you will favour me with your advice, and I know you
     will not neglect to pray for me.

     "My sister Emma, I regret to say, continues to manifest a
     decided aversion to the things of the Spirit of God--they are
     foolishness to her; but Jane is becoming much more serious. I
     do not think that she is yet decided, but I hope the good work
     is begun. I often find her with her Bible, and sometimes she
     retires to her own room in the evening, where I hope she spends
     some portion of her time in praying to her Father in secret;
     and if so, He who seeth in secret will ultimately reward her
     openly.--Yours affectionately,

     "LOUISA.

     "To Mrs. Loader."

When a young Christian searches the Scriptures for correct
information on the great questions of religion, and is favoured
with the assistance of judicious and pious friends, he usually
passes on from one degree of knowledge to another without meeting
with the formidable obstructions and perplexing embarrassments to
which he is exposed, by the conflicting opinions which are prevalent
amongst us. The light which shines on the sacred page, when it comes
_directly_ from above, is clear and pure, and makes distinctly
manifest, to the judgment and the conscience, the truth as it is in
Jesus, in its simplicity and power. But when it passes through a
human medium, it often shines in an oblique course, throwing into
the shade some essential parts of the economy of Divine truth; and
hence a defective theory is sometimes embraced, which always proves
unsatisfactory, and sometimes fatal to our peace. It is therefore
impossible to exercise too much caution, in the early periods of
our experience, in the choice of our religious associates, and of
the books which we read; as it is in the power of error, whether
it comes from the lips of friendship or from the press, to do more
essential injury than the truth may be able to repair, till after a
lengthened period of extreme anxiety and disquietude. And as we are
so liable to receive pernicious impressions from the numerous errors
which are in perpetual circulation around us, we cannot depend with
too much simplicity, or docility of disposition, on the Holy Ghost,
whom the Saviour has promised to his disciples. "And I will pray the
Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide
with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot
receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know
him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. He shall teach
you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever
I have said unto you. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive
of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Hence it is indispensably
necessary for the Christian, in every period of his life, but
especially when entering on his religious course, to implore the
gracious influence of the Divine Spirit, to guard him against every
species of error--to lead him into all truth--and to invest the
truth with that holy unction, which will render it no less a source
of the highest intellectual improvement, than of the most exquisite
mental enjoyment. Such a habit of dependence on Divine aid will be
an effectual safeguard against the spirit of self-sufficiency, which
proves so fatal to those who are enslaved by it; and while it will
stimulate to mental diligence in searching the Scriptures, that we
may ascertain what is the mind of the Spirit, it will keep us in a
state of independence of human opinion.

But while I wish to point out to the attention of the young
Christian, the dangers to which he is exposed from the society of
his pious yet injudicious friends, and to bring him into immediate
connection with the Spirit of truth, I would, at the same time,
guard him against indulging any visionary expectations respecting
the mode of His instruction, or the infallible certainty of the
opinions He may permit us to form. He teaches through the medium of
the Scriptures, even while the judgment is altogether unconscious of
any supernatural assistance; but His communications are restricted
to those points in the system of truth which are essential to
salvation; leaving us to form our own judgment on questions of minor
importance. Hence the agreement amongst the disciples of Christ, on
what is essential, and their diversity on what is non-essential.

But even when we are taught by the Holy Spirit, and thus imbibe
the truth in its most perfect state, it will not always retain its
original power of impression, but will admit of a partial declension
in moving the affections, even while its authority over the judgment
and the conscience remain undiminished. Hence the lines of Cowper
are often employed as expressive of the disconsolate state of the
heart:--

    "Where is the blessedness I knew,
       When first I saw the Lord?
     Where is the soul-refreshing view,
       Of Jesus and his Word?
     What peaceful hours I once enjoy'd!
       How sweet their mem'ry still!
     But they have left an aching void,
       The world can never fill."

And this cessation of a powerful excitement, which usually
succeeds the first impressions of truth, is often regarded, by the
Christian, as an indisputable evidence of the decay of his religious
principles, when it may be nothing more than a necessary consequence
of the more advanced progress of his personal experience, as the
change of the leaf, from living green to the auburn hue, is a plain
indication that the fruit is advancing in its ripening process.

The above account presents an instance, which has many parallels,
of the struggles, anxieties, and perplexities, which so often beset
the mind of the believer on his first entering on his career of
Christian experience. I shall return soon to the continuation of the
history of Mr. Holmes' family; but, in the meantime, must beg the
courteous reader to accompany me back, for a short space, to my own
town, from which I have been led by this digression in my narrative.



THEATRICAL AMUSEMENTS.

PART I.


One morning, while musing on the changing scenes of my eventful
life, recalling the past, and speculating on the future, I received
a letter from an old friend, requesting that I would call on
her as soon as I could make it convenient. From the tone of the
letter, and some expressions contained in it, I judged she was in
trouble, and accordingly proceeded immediately towards her house.
As I was passing along, I remembered that, several years before,
I had received a similar note, written by the same hand, and in a
similar strain of grief. The writer was a widow, whose husband had
been cut off in the flower of his days, leaving her to provide for
their children, who were at that time all dependent on her. On the
occasion I speak of, I found her bewailing the alarming illness of
her only son, a youth of about fifteen years. She complained with
bitterness that the Almighty, who had taken away her husband, was
now about to take away her first-born also. I attempted to bring her
mind into a state of acquiescence to the Divine will, by reminding
her that no affliction came by chance--that he who works all things
after his own counsel, often sends an early affliction, to prevent
a more painful one--and that when he is pleased to take from us our
choicest comforts, it is "for our profit, that we might be partakers
of his holiness." She replied that the Almighty might tear her son
from her, but she could not surrender him. When I expostulated with
her, she did not attempt to justify her opposition to the will of
God, but excused herself from the affection she bore her son; and
earnestly requested me to pray for him, and pray that his life might
be spared. We prayed together for the lad, and in due time he was
restored to health. Having removed soon after this to a different
quarter of the town, I had seen but little of him or his family for
a considerable time.

Perhaps, thought I, as I drew near the house of sorrow, the life
of this son is again in danger. He has been spared a few years,
as the staff of his mother's strength, and now she is inured
to her troubles, he is about to be taken from her. Indulgent,
yet mysterious Providence! The lines of the poet recurred to my
recollection with peculiar force--

    "The ways of heaven are dark and intricate.
     Puzzled with mazes and perplex'd with errors,
     Our understanding traces them in vain--
     Lost and bewilder'd in the fruitless search. Nor sees
     With how much art the windings turn,
     Nor where the regular confusion ends."--_Addison._

[Illustration: JAMES GODWIN.

W. L. THOMAS.

THE MOTHER'S HOPES BLASTED.

Vol. ii. page 179.]

When I entered the room, I found her reclining on a sofa, and in
tears, her three daughters weeping apart. Though I knew not the
cause of their distress, I felt at once that some great calamity had
befallen them. My presence seemed to revive their grief, for when
they beheld me, there was a spontaneous burst of anguish. At length,
when nature had given vent to her feelings, and recovered a portion
of that strength which had been consumed by the violence of grief,
the sufferer informed me that her son had brought upon them a deluge
of sorrow. Without going into particulars, she requested me to read
the following letter, which was lying on the table:--

     "MY DEAR MOTHER,--Apprehensive that you may be alarmed by the
     abruptness of my departure from home, I write to inform you
     that I am well; and when I reach the place of my destination,
     I will send you my address. I now regret the course I have
     taken, but this will not bring back my departed reputation,
     nor heal the wound which I have inflicted on your peace. Had
     I taken your advice, and kept myself from evil companions and
     vain amusements, I had still been a virtuous and happy man--your
     comforter, and the support of the family; but I disregarded your
     lessons, and became a regular attender of the theatre, to the
     fatal attractions of which, I am convinced, I now owe my ruin.
     From the theatre, it was but one step to the tavern and the
     gaming table. To gratify my passion for the latter, I embezzled
     my masters' property, and am now a wretched fugitive from the
     pursuit of justice. Remember me very kindly to my sisters, and
     tell them never to enter a theatre, for it is to my attendance
     at that place of dissipation, that I attribute my first
     deviation from the right path.--Your undutiful, yet affectionate
     son,

     W. HARVEY."

"Oh! my poor William," exclaimed his mother, "oh! that I should ever
have lived to see this day! Our disgrace is all over the town this
morning. Look at this, too," she continued, producing a hand-bill
offering a reward of £50 for the apprehension of William Harvey,
absconded.

After perusing these, I expressed my heartfelt sympathy with the
family, and tried to soothe their feelings and offer words of
comfort; but what comfort could I impart in such circumstances! In
answer to my inquiries, I drew from her, amidst sobs and tears, an
account of her son, and the causes which had produced the fatal
transformation in his character. It was to the following effect:--At
the decease of his father, he was removed from school, and placed
in the counting-house of Messrs. ----, extensive merchants in the
town. Being a lad of strong natural powers and quick perceptions,
active and industrious in his disposition, he soon made himself very
useful, and within the space of three years, had so established
himself in the esteem and respect of his employers, as to be
promoted to a post of responsibility and trust. He was distinguished
from most young men of his age, by the soundness of his judgment,
and the sobriety of his habits, and so devotedly attached to
his mother and his sisters, that he made the promotion of their
happiness his constant study. In the morning he went to the duties
of his station with cheerfulness; and in the evening, when the toils
of the day were ended, he either retired to his own room, to read
the amusing or instructive page, or passed it away in their society.
He would often admit, when conversing with his pious mother,
the necessity of personal religion, yet he thought some distant
futurity a more convenient season for attending to it than the
present time; and hence the strong impressions which he occasionally
received, when engaged in the public exercises of devotion, were
soon obliterated by the tumultuous anxieties of commercial life.
But when about the age of eighteen, he began to feel the necessity
of personal religion; and though he did not suffer its interesting
and important inquiries to divert his attention from his secular
pursuits, yet he was convinced that it was no less his duty to be
"fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," than diligent in his business.

His mother witnessed this moral renovation of his character with
peculiar delight; and soon had the pleasure of hearing him lead the
devotions of the family both morning and evening. For the space
of two years, he was equally distinguished for his diligence in
business and his fervour of devotion, till at length he fell into
the company of a young man who ultimately effected his ruin. This
young man was the son of a wealthy citizen, as accomplished in
manners as he was corrupt in principles; and though he made no
profession of religion, yet he affected to treat it with great
respect, and thus more effectually gained an ascendency over young
Harvey. Their first acquaintance soon ripened into the maturity
of an ardent friendship; and notwithstanding the dissimilarity
of their opinions, they became almost inseparable companions.
Each felt anxious to gain the other over to his own course, and
adopted what he conceived to be the most likely method; but it soon
became apparent, that evil communications more speedily corrupt
the virtuous, than good communications reclaim the vicious. One
of the earliest symptoms of this corruption of principle, was his
becoming an occasional frequenter of the theatre, a place which,
hitherto, the pious admonitions of his mother had prevented him from
entering. Then came abandonment of his home, and of the society of
its inmates, after the business of the day had terminated, which
broke in upon the devotional order of the family, and often led
to inquiries and remonstrances which were natural, but painful.
These gentle and affectionate remonstrances at first had a powerful
effect, and he was induced to return to his former habits; but
in process of time, they were either heard with indifference, or
resented, and he who had officiated at the family altar, in a
humble and apparently contrite spirit, informed his mother that he
should in future decline engaging in such a responsible office. She
besought him in the most urgent and imploring manner, to rescind
his avowed determination, and once more break away from that fatal
charm, which was seducing him from the path of righteousness and
peace; but she could not succeed. He was resolute and decided; and
after this time rarely returned home till very late at night.

"I have sat alone," said his mother, "watching for his return,
till one, two, three, and even four in the morning; and when I
have opened the door, he more often abused me for my kindness,
than apologized for his misconduct. Having spent his midnight
hours in dissipation, he consumed those of the morning in sleep;
and sometimes did not get to business much before noon. Though he
foresaw what might be the consequences of his folly and impiety, yet
no arguments were sufficient to induce him to change his course.
He grew worse and worse, till at length he disappeared two days
ago, and I heard nothing of him till yesterday, when I received
the letter which has thrown us all into such misery. This trial,
which would have been a severe one under any circumstances, is to
me peculiarly poignant; as it brings to my remembrance my sins. It
is now just seven years since the Almighty appeared to be taking
him from me, and such was the heavenly frame of his mind, that he
was not unwilling to go. Had he died then, I should have wept over
his grave, but I should have had the prospect of meeting him in
a better world. Or if I had felt resigned to the will of God, he
might have been restored to me in mercy, as was Isaac, when the
angel of the Lord forbade his venerable father to slay the sacrifice
which he had so willingly bound, and placed on the altar; but I was
rebellious. I prayed for his life, because I thought it essential to
my happiness; and his life has been spared; but alas, he is become
the destroyer of our peace. It is now, Sir, only two years since he
began to turn his attention to religious subjects, and to lead the
devotions of our family; and though, like most parents, I rejoiced
with trembling, yet hope preponderated, and I thought he would have
been my support and comfort in my old age; but alas, the vision of
bliss has disappeared, and I am left to desolation and despair."
Here she paused to weep, and then resumed her tale of sorrow. "I
watched his gradual departure from the ways of righteousness with
much anxiety, and made many efforts to reclaim him; and though he
yielded at first to my solicitations, and made many solemn promises,
yet he broke them all, and gave himself up to the company of the
wicked. _The stage has been his ruin._ Till he entered the ill-fated
theatre, which throws out its unhallowed attractions to beguile and
captivate the thoughtless and the gay, he was one of the best of
sons, and one of the kindest of brothers, fond of home, and devoted
to his mercantile duties; but after he had acquired a taste for
its scenes and its performances, he became undutiful to me, unkind
to his sisters, indolent and extravagant, unwilling to submit to
the control of authority or of reason, and determined to follow
the devices and desires of his own heart, even though he should
plunge us all in ruin. It was in the theatre that he fell into bad
company--it was there he lost his strength to resist temptation;
and being once overcome, he surrendered himself, a willing captive
to the service of iniquity. Ill-fated place! There many a virtuous
youth has become the victim of sin! and there my William fell, and
in his fall he has destroyed my happiness for life. Where he is
gone, I know not, nor do I know what destiny awaits him; but this
I know, from bitter experience, that the theatre will corrupt the
most virtuous; and while it professes to afford only amusement and
instruction, it often becomes the destroyer of personal honour and
of social happiness."

I retired from this scene, my mind loaded with anxiety on behalf
of the unfortunate family, deeply regretting that it was not in
my power to afford them any effectual relief. I could not reclaim
the infatuated youth, nor yet repair the moral injury which the
attractions of the theatre had brought upon the honour and peace of
their household. I was grieved by their tale of sorrow; but it did
not surprise me, as I had met with too many proofs of the debasing
tendency of theatrical amusements, to be astonished by such a
narrative.

I had an engagement to spend the evening of the day on which the
above conversation took place, at the house of a friend, who had
invited me to meet a gentleman from London, an acquaintance of his,
who was then paying him a visit. On arriving there I found a small
party assembled. In the course of the evening, after a desultory
conversation on various matters, we found ourselves involved in a
close, though not angry debate. The circumstance which led to this
spirited discussion, was a reference to a recent verdict which had
been given against a celebrated comedian, for a crime which never
can be visited with too much severity, as it tends not only to the
corruption of public morals, but the destruction of private and
domestic happiness.

"It is of importance," said Mr. Proctor, the gentleman at whose
house we were spending the evening, "that they who lash the vices
of the age, and who hold them up to scorn and contempt, should be
virtuous themselves, or they will do more injury by their example,
than they will do good by their professional labours."

"Very true, Sir," replied a Mr. Talbot, one of the party, who was
a great admirer of the drama, "but we must not expect to find the
perfection of human nature in a profession which is exposed to so
many and such powerful temptations!"

"The perfection of human nature!" exclaimed Mr. Proctor's London
friend, Mr. Falkland, "perhaps it would be impossible to find a
class of men, in any single profession, in which we shall find so
little virtue and so much vice as in the theatrical profession."

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, do you really mean to say, that the
stage never exhibits, in the private character of its performers,
the beauty and consistency of virtue? Surely you are not so
uncharitable!"

_Mr. Falkland._--"I will not say that every one who appears on the
stage is immoral, in the broad acceptation of that term; but I mean
to say that the great majority are more depraved in their tastes,
habits, and conduct, than the general average of society. This is
a fact which I presume no one will attempt to deny, who possesses
an accurate knowledge of the character of the performers at our
theatres."

_Mr. Talbot._--"There is, I admit, too much truth in what you now
say; and how will you account for it?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"To account for it is not difficult--the moral
tendency of their profession is a sufficient reason; and that we may
have the most palpable and unequivocal evidence of its nature, it
is allowed by Providence to operate in the first place and to the
fullest extent on the morals and character of the persons who are
engaged in it."

_Mr. Talbot._--"There, Sir, I am at issue with you; for I maintain
that the moral tendency of theatrical amusements is favourable to
the cultivation and growth of private and public virtue; and though
some who are touched with the puritanical spirit of the age, may
assert the contrary, yet I think they will not be able to prove it."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, Sir, if the moral tendency of theatrical
amusements be favourable to the cultivation and growth of private
and public virtue, will you be kind enough to say, how it comes to
pass that the very persons who are employed to conduct them, are, in
general, the most profligate members of society?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, Sir, they are profligate before they enter the
profession."

_Mr. Falkland._--"But can't men of high-toned virtue be induced
to enter a profession, which is intended to promote the moral
improvement of the age--to make us wiser and better?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Very few. The majority are persons of talent, who go
'_through all the vagabondry of life_,' and then offer themselves to
the stage as a _dernier_ resort."

_Mr. Falkland._--"They first become profligate, and then betake
themselves to the stage, as a forlorn hope!"

_Mr. Talbot._--"They are profligate before they enter on the stage,
which is an evil every virtuous man must deplore."

_Mr. Falkland._--"And _remain_ profligate after they are on."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Too many."

_Mr. Falkland._--"The majority, Sir."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Perhaps so."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, Sir, if the tendency of their profession be
favourable to the cultivation and growth of virtue, how is it that
it does not reclaim these profligate players? How is it that it does
not scatter the seeds of virtue among them, and raise it to a high
state of culture?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, Sir, are there not many who wear the gown
immoral?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"I fear there are, Sir."

_Mr. Talbot._--"And yet, I presume, you will admit, that the moral
tendency of the clerical profession and duties is favourable to the
cultivation and growth of private and public virtue."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Most certainly, Sir."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Then, how comes it to pass, if it be so, that these
men still remain immoral?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Permit me to say, that the introduction of this
question is no satisfactory reply to my argument. Answer that in the
first place, and then you are at liberty to propose what queries
you think proper. If the tendency of the theatrical profession be
favourable to the cultivation and growth of virtue, how is it that
it does not reclaim these profligate players? This is the question
under debate, and let us keep to it. We may ramble after we have
settled it."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, Sir, there are two reasons which may be
assigned--their extreme profligacy before they enter their
profession; and the numerous and powerful temptations to which they
are exposed after they have engaged in it."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, Sir, theatrical amusements will not reclaim
extreme profligacy, nor produce virtue where it is most needed?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Perhaps not."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, Sir, you require a stock of virtue to insert
your graft on, or you do not calculate on raising any good fruit?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Exactly so, Sir."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, as men of high-toned virtue, with few
exceptions, cannot be induced to engage in the theatrical
profession; and as it is found incapable of reclaiming the
profligate, we can never expect to find a preponderance of virtue
amongst the members of that profession; and, consequently, we are
reduced to the necessity of admitting this astounding fact--the men
who are employed to chastise the vices of the age, and to cultivate
its virtues, are, with few exceptions, the most profligate in their
manners!"

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, will you make no allowance for men and
women who are necessarily exposed to so many temptations in the
discharge of the duties of their profession?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Why, Sir, what peculiar temptations to vice ought
to stand connected with the duties of a profession which is intended
to promote private and public virtue?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, you know they often appear, when on the
stage, in a rank far above the level of their condition, which may
imperceptibly induce them to cherish those habits of extravagance
in private life, for which they are so notorious. But the most
fatal temptation to which they are exposed, is the too familiar
intercourse which necessarily takes place between the actors and
actresses on the stage, which cannot be avoided, unless the most
popular plays are suppressed; and would it not betray an ignorance
of human nature, to expect that this circumstance should produce no
injurious effect on their moral character?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Certainly. You reason very properly. You have
given a faithful, just, and true account of an evil which is
generally admitted. But, in accounting for this evil, have you not
made a concession which invalidates the correctness of your general
position, that the tendency of theatrical amusements is to promote
the cultivation and growth of private and public morals?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"No, Sir, I have merely assigned the causes of that
general profligacy of manners which prevails amongst players, as a
reason why you should be more indulgent towards them; and why you
should not expect the perfection of virtue to grow in such near
contact with the most fascinating temptations."

_Mr. Falkland._--"I know full well what you intended to do, and also
what you have done. May I be permitted now, to place your leading
assertion, and your last concession, in one sentence?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Yes, provided you do it fairly."

_Mr. Falkland._--"I will attempt it. The tendency of theatrical
amusements is to promote the cultivation and growth of private and
public virtue; but the actors and actresses, who are employed in
this good work, are necessarily placed in a position which destroys
their own virtue, and brings on amongst them a general profligacy
of manners. That is, their representation of vice and vicious
characters on the stage often leads to immoral practices in their
private conduct. Does not this prove that the tendency of their
professional duties is injurious to their own morals?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Have I not admitted it, Sir?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Yes, and proved it, at the extreme hazard of
endangering your own proposition, that the stage is favourable to
the interests of _private_ virtue."

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, are there not many who wear the gown, and
who make much higher pretensions to virtue than players do, who,
after they have given their public lectures on morality, will retire
and sin in secret. Now, permit me to ask, if the sanctimonious
hypocrite is not a more odious character than the profligate player?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"I regret, Sir, that you should overstep the bounds
of the question under discussion, to attack the clerical profession;
but lest you should imagine that you are occupying a position from
which no fair argument can displace you, I will for once attempt to
follow you. I admit, then, for the sake of the argument, that there
are some who make higher pretensions to private virtue than the
actors and actresses of our theatres, who, after delivering their
public lectures on morality, retire and sin in secret; but will the
vices of one class of men justify the vices of another? If some of
the clergy are corrupt, will the fact of their corruption diminish
the magnitude of the players' vices? Why you have introduced this
charge against the clergy into the discussion I cannot say, as
it has nothing to do with the question at issue, which is the
necessary connection between a player's profligacy of manners and
the duties of his profession. That is, that the very performance
of his duties, when he is engaged in promoting the morality of the
public, has a tendency to produce a corruption of his own morals.
But you can bring no such charge against the moral tendency of the
clerical duties. A clergyman is not compelled, in the discharge
of his functions, to give utterance to any expressions, or to
perform any actions, which have even a remote tendency to vitiate
his taste or corrupt his morals; so that if he should turn out a
bad man, you must look for the cause of it, not, as in the case
of the stage-player, in any impure and contaminating influence of
his profession, but in the depravity of his nature. If he become
immoral, he acts an inconsistent part, offers an insult to the
sentiments of the virtuous part of mankind, and loses his place
in society--as a man who is a disgrace to his profession, whose
example is in direct opposition to the acknowledged tendency of
his ministerial functions. But as a pure moral character is not
necessary to qualify a man to appear on the stage, no one feels at
liberty to charge a theatrical performer with inconsistency, even
if he should become notorious for swearing, gaming, drunkenness, or
debauchery. He may revel in these vices, and yet appear before an
audience with as much confidence of affording them gratification by
his performances as he would feel if he were a man of the purest
moral excellence. It is true, that if publicly convicted of some
flagrant offence, and held up, through the medium of the press,
as the base wretch who violates the sanctity of friendship, the
admirers of the drama will express a virtuous indignation, and
wish him to perform a sort of quarantine before he again makes his
appearance before them; yet they will never regard it as a lasting
disqualification for his professional duties."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Well, Sir, after all the attacks which you have
made on the character of theatrical performers, and the defence
which you have set up in favour of the clergy, I maintain that
the sanctimonious hypocrite who retires from the pulpit, where
he has delivered his grave moral lectures, to sin in secret, is
a more pernicious character than the most profligate player that
ever disgraced his profession. For do not the vices of the clergy
shake our confidence in the truth of religion, which you know is
never done by the vices of the stage; and is not their example, in
consequence of their more powerful influence over the public mind,
more destructive to the morals of society?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"If, Sir, your belief in the Divine origin of
Christianity is ever shaken by the vices of its professors, you give
a decisive proof that it does not rest on the legitimate evidence
which is offered in confirmation of it. Christianity claims a Divine
origin, and she adduces irrefragable arguments in confirmation of
it; but the consistent conduct of _all_ her professors is not one
of them. Judas was a traitor, but his treachery did not weaken the
force of evidence which the miracles of Jesus Christ supplied in
favour of his Divine mission; and though it is very common for us
to look for an exact correspondence between the life of a Christian
and the purity of his professed faith, yet if all who profess to
believe in the Christian religion should become as licentious in
their manners as the most notorious libertines, their profligacy
would not weaken the evidences on which Christianity founds her
claims to our belief. They would be convicted of the crimes of which
they are guilty; but by what process of fair argumentation could you
bring the verdict recorded against them to disprove the divinity of
a system of religion which is supported by the evidence of prophecy,
of miracle, of testimony, its own internal purity, and its more than
magic power in the renovation and transformation of the most impure
and debased of men?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Well, perhaps I made a slight mistake by saying that
the vices of the clergy tend to shake our confidence in the divinity
of our faith. It would have been more correct to say, they have a
tendency to make us mistrustful of the integrity of the clerical
character. But will you not admit that they have a most pernicious
influence over the popular mind--more especially on young men who
are just entering into active life?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Yes, Sir, I readily concede that the vices of
the clergy have a more pernicious effect on the morals of society
than the vices of players, because the clerical character is held
in higher estimation, and because the clergy have free access
to families who would feel themselves degraded if a player was
to be introduced into their company. The clergy who support the
dignity of their profession, as the great majority of them do,
are esteemed and respected--their friendship is highly valued and
assiduously cultivated; but players are doomed to neglect when off
the boards--they are shunned in the ordinary intercourse of social
life, and kept in a state of exclusion, which is something like an
instinctive evidence, pervading all classes, with a few exceptions,
that they must be kept aloof from the sacred precincts of the family
circle. And it is to this sensitive abhorrence, which the virtuous
part of society feels, against any familiar intercourse with
players, that we are to attribute the comparatively trifling injury
which the profligacy of their private character does to the morals
of the public; but if ever this safeguard should be broken down--if
ever the line of demarcation which estranges us from them should be
removed, and they should have free access to our homes--allowed to
associate with our sons and daughters, they would introduce amongst
us a degree of moral corruption which no authority could check or
influence subdue."

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, I have known some players introduced into
the highest intellectual circles of London and Edinburgh. Why, it is
a well-known fact, that the Kembles and Siddons, Bannister, Young,
and many others, were often guests at the mansions of some of the
most virtuous and accomplished of our nobility."

_Mr. Falkland._--"I admit, Sir, that the intellectual eminence of a
few of the profession has procured for them an admission into the
society of literary men; but a virtuous public, and even that part
of the public which admires the drama, with few exceptions, will not
receive them into its private or social friendship. And in the case
of the few exceptions into whose circles they have been received,
shall we find no husband or father who has not had occasion to rue
the day when he consented to call an actor his friend? It would be
invidious to give names, or I could, from my personal knowledge,
mention some instances of the lamentable results of intimacies
with players. Enough was brought before the public to justify the
remarks of the _Times_:--'The conduct of persons who appear on the
stage has never been the most irreproachable; and it may be doubted
whether such a mass of living vice, as the actors and actresses but
too generally present in their private lives, is not more injurious
to public morals than the splendid examples of virtue which they
exhibit in their theatrical characters are useful.'"

_Mr. Talbot._--"And, Sir, has no unsuspecting family had occasion to
rue the day when they received into their friendship the ministers
of religion? Have _they_ never broken down the fence that guards
the sanctity of domestic virtue? Have _they_ never been publicly
convicted of crime?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Yes, Sir; but when you compare the relative
numbers of the two professions, you will be compelled to admit that
there are but very few of the clerical order who trample on the
decencies and virtues of social life, and yet continue to discharge
their ministerial functions. Only let a clergyman be suspected, and
he is shunned; but let him be convicted, and he is disrobed, and
held in abhorrence, not only by the public, but by his brethren.
And though the light and trifling spirits of the age are fond of
traducing the reputation of the ministers of religion, and often
impute to them crimes of which they are not guilty, yet I fearlessly
assert that, with rare exceptions, they are an ornament to society,
and are not surpassed, if equalled, by any order of men, for
sobriety, chastity, benevolence, and all the virtues which bless and
adorn social life."

_Mr. Proctor._--"I very much dislike the introduction of reflections
on the clerical order into these discussions, because they are
irrelevant to the question before us, and tend to perplex and
embarrass it rather than to bring it to a fair issue. The question
is simply this, '_Is the moral tendency of theatrical amusements
favourable to the cultivation and growth of private and public
virtue?_' It is admitted that the members of the theatrical
profession are, with few exceptions, loose in principles and
profligate in manners; and our friend has attempted to prove that
their profession has a tendency to make them so. Now, I think if
these amusements are favourable to the cultivation and growth of
virtue, we have a right to expect that the persons who are employed
to conduct them should exhibit in their own character the virtues
which they profess to inculcate. But they do not. This is a fact.
We never think of recommending our sons or our daughters to go
to the actors and actresses of the stage, for models from which
to mould their own character. If we knew that they were forming
an intimacy with any of them, we should forbid it, under a full
conviction that such intimacies would sink them in the esteem of
the more respectable part of society, and expose them to the most
powerful and seducing temptations. Thus far, I think, our friend
has gained his point; but the question is not yet decided. The
players may be profligate, and a close connection may be traceable
between their professional labours and the corruption of their
moral principles and habits; but notwithstanding this, _we_ may
derive great advantage from their theatrical representations. 'Their
business is to recommend virtue and discountenance vice--to show the
uncertainty of human greatness, the sudden turns of fate, and the
unhappy conclusion of violence and injustice'--to expose the folly
of pride, the baseness of ingratitude, the vileness of hypocrisy,
and to prove, by an appeal to the senses, rather than by logical
reasoning, that virtue is its own reward and vice its own tormentor;
and surely, Sir," addressing himself to Mr. Falkland, "you will
not presume to say that the immorality of 'their private lives'
disqualifies _us_ from receiving the moral benefit of their public
labours? This, I think, would be a position which you could not
maintain."

_Mr. Falkland._--"But, Sir, I maintain that the frequenters of our
theatres sustain, with rare exceptions, more moral injury from
the representations they witness on the stage, than they receive
moral benefit. Your friend Mr. Talbot admitted, in an early part of
this discussion, that familiarities of expression and action take
place on the stage which offend modesty, and if so, I appeal to you
whether such expressions and actions can produce any other effect
than an impure and demoralizing one."

_Mr. Proctor._--"But these offensive familiarities are not of
perpetual occurrence."

_Mr. Falkland._--"But they are of frequent occurrence; and when
they do occur they taint a pure mind and inflame a corrupt one. The
following is a just critique on our popular comedies:--'The English
comedy is like that of no other country. It is the school in which
the youth of both sexes familiarize themselves with vice, which is
never represented there as vice, but as mere gaiety.'"

_Mr. Proctor._--"I admit the correctness of this statement to a
certain extent; and will confess that I have at times wished my
children out of the theatre, from an apprehension of the possibility
of their sustaining some injury from what they saw and heard; yet I
still cleave to the stage, for a reason which, I think, you will not
controvert."

_Mr. Falkland._--"And what may that be?"

_Mr. Proctor._--"The stage is a source of amusement--I may say, of
great amusement. It drives away the vapours, raises our spirits,
and gives an agreeable variety to life. I willingly overlook what
is objectionable in expression and action, for the sake of the high
gratification which a good comedy yields; and so do others. To be
candid, we think less about our virtue than our enjoyment. We must
have some sort of excitement to help us to endure the cross purposes
and the ups and downs of life."

_Mr. Falkland._--"I have no doubt but the great majority who
frequent the theatres, enjoy, even to ecstasy, the scenes which are
exhibited, and retire from the enchanting place deeply regretting
that the dull uniformity of life presents no attractions half so
exciting. They smile and laugh, and even chuckle with delight,
when the intrigue of double-dealing has ensnared its victim--when
the lewd debauchee ogles his mistress, and by some sudden spring
seizes her by surprise--when virtue is made to look ridiculous by
the tenderness of her scruples--when the doctrines and precepts of
our holy religion are caricatured by the profane witling of the
stage--and when vice, disgusting and appalling vice, speaks out
its profanity, or acts its part with the adroitness of consummate
villainy. Then it is that 'the feast of soul' is enjoyed, and the
spirits which have been exhausted by _ennui_, or by the monotonous
duties of a long day's labour, are recruited, and the agreeable
alterative of the mind takes place. O yes, the stage amuses! It
is indeed an elysium of bliss; and if it should be closed, many
would weep and sigh who never wept or sighed over a remembrance of
their sins; and deem that life a burden which was given, not for
the participation of such polluting enjoyments, but for the nobler
purpose of deriving pure felicity from the invisible Fountain of all
goodness and excellence."

_Mr. Proctor._--"But, my good friend, must we be always weeping over
our sins, and never allowed to partake of any pleasure but what
arises from religious pursuits?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"I presume, Mr. Proctor, you will admit that we
ought sometimes to mourn over our sins; and ought _sometimes_ to
devote our attention to religious pursuits, unless we reject the
entire system of revelation as a cunningly devised fable?"

_Mr. Proctor._--"I think, Sir, I am as firm a believer in the Divine
origin of Christianity as yourself, though probably we may differ on
some high points of speculative opinion; yet I cannot perceive that
Christianity condemns the theatre, nor am I disposed to object to
its performances _in toto_, because an audience sometimes derives
a momentary gratification from scenes and expressions which a
severe moralist might condemn. I admit that the stage would derive
some benefit by being submitted to a purifying process, but I
would rather retain it as it is, with all its faults, than have it
abolished."

_Mr. Talbot._--"If, as Mr. Falkland appears to contend, the
Christian religion condemns theatrical amusements, and if,
notwithstanding, they are innocent and rational, it then follows
that man was not made for the Christian religion, although that
religion was made for man; the scandal of such an inference, and
its infallible support of scepticism, cannot but make it highly
desirable to prove that the Christian religion does _not_ condemn
them."

_Mr. Falkland._--"If they are innocent! and if they are rational!
But I maintain they are not innocent; and, if viewed as they ought
to be, in connection with our eternal destiny, I maintain they are
not rational. But to avoid anticipating arguments which may be
afterwards adduced, I at once challenge you to bring forward proof
from the Scriptures in favour of these corrupting amusements."

_Mr. Talbot._--"I have no positive proof to adduce in favour of
them, as the Scriptures are entirely silent on the subject; but is
not that silence a strong presumptive evidence in their favour?
Did any of the apostles ever condemn the theatrical exhibitions of
the times in which they lived? but would they not have done it if
they thought their tendency had been at variance with the spirit
and design of that religion which they came to propagate amongst
mankind?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, Sir, because they did not in their epistles,
which were addressed to the converted pagans who had renounced their
former evil customs, condemn the gladiatorial exhibitions of Rome
and of Greece, you think that a fair argument arises in favour of
them?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, if they had considered them unfavourable to the
morals of the people, they most certainly would have condemned them."

_Mr. Falkland._--"What if the persons to whom they wrote had
previously renounced them?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"But we have no proof that the early Christians did
abstain from these sources of amusement."

_Mr. Falkland._--"There, I think, you are mistaken. We have
incontestable evidence to prove that the early Christians not only
abstained from them, but condemned them in the most unqualified
terms of reprobation; and I will now, with your leave, read a
collection of testimonies on the subject, with which I was lately
favoured by a friend:--

     "'The Romans,' says Cæcilius, the heathen, in Minutius,
     'govern and enjoy the world, while you Christians are careful
     and mopish, abstaining even from lawful pleasures. You visit
     not shows, nor are present at the pomps; you abhor the holy
     games--a melancholy ghastly people ye are.'

     "'True,' says Octavius, 'we Christians refrain from the
     play-house, because of its intolerable corruptions. We cannot be
     present at the plays without great sin and shame.'

     "Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, who flourished about the year
     170, in his book to Autolicus has these words:--'It is not
     lawful for us to be present at the prizes of your gladiators,
     lest by this means we should be accessories to the murders
     there committed. Neither dare we presume upon the liberty of
     your shows, lest our senses should be tinctured and disobliged
     with indecency and profaneness. The tragical distractions of
     Tereus and Thyestes are nonsense to us. We are for seeing no
     representations of lewdness. God forbid that Christians, who
     are remarkable for modesty and reservedness--who are obliged to
     discipline and trained up in virtue--God forbid, I say, that we
     should dishonour our thoughts, much less our practice, with such
     wickedness as this!'

     "Tertullian, who flourished in the same century, is copious
     upon this subject:--'We Christians have nothing to do with the
     frenzies of the race-ground, the lewdness of the play-house, or
     the barbarities of the bear-garden.'

     "Clement Alexandrinus, who lived about the year 200, affirms
     that a circus and theatre may not improperly be called the
     'chair of pestilence.'--_De Pædag._ lib. iii.

     "St. Cyprian, who lived in the third century, has spoken at
     large upon the stage, and after having described the diversions
     of the play-house, he expostulates in this manner:--

     "'What business has a Christian at such places as these? A
     Christian who has not the liberty so much as to think of an ill
     thing?--Why does he entertain himself with lewd representations?
     Has he a mind to discharge his modesty, that he may sin
     afterwards with the more boldness? Yes: this is the consequence.
     By using to see these things, he will learn to do them. Why need
     I mention the levities and impertinences in comedies, or the
     ranting distractions of tragedy? The folly of them is egregious,
     and unbecoming the gravity of believers.

     "'As I have often said, these foppish, these pernicious
     diversions must be avoided. We must set a guard upon our senses,
     and keep the sentinel always upon duty. To make vice familiar
     to the ear is the way to recommend it. And since the mind of
     man has a natural bent to extravagance, how is it likely to hold
     out under example and invitation? If you push that which totters
     already, whither will it tumble? In earnest; we must draw off
     our inclinations from these vanities. A Christian has much
     better sights than these to look at.'

     "St. Cyril, who lived in the fourth century, in his Catechism
     for the newly baptized, has these words:--

     "'You have said at your baptism, I renounce thee, O Satan; I
     renounce all thy works and all thy pomps. The pomps of the
     devil are the diversions of the theatre, and all other the like
     vanities; from which David begs of God to be delivered: 'Turn
     away mine eyes,' says he, 'that they behold not vanity.' Do
     not then suffer yourself to be led away by a fondness for the
     entertainments of the stage, to behold there the extravagancies
     of plays full of wantonness and impurity.'"[17]

  [17] The author is indebted to the late Rev. Mr. Simpson for these
  testimonies.

The discussion between Mr. Talbot and Mr. Falkland was here broken
off, but shortly afterwards resumed, as follows in the next chapter.



THEATRICAL AMUSEMENTS.

PART II.


"These quotations which you have read from the ancient fathers,"
said Mr. Talbot, "merely express their private opinion on the
expediency of not attending such scenes of amusement; but as they
were not endowed with the spirit of infallibility, their opinions
may be submitted to the ordeal of examination no less than your own."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Nay, Sir; these quotations do more than express
the private opinion of the historians from whose works they are
taken; they record the fact that the primitive Christians did not
attend public places of amusement, because they knew that their
moral tendency was unfavourable to the cultivation and growth
of virtue. They also prove that the stage undergoes no moral
change--indecent and profane in the olden times, when amusing Greeks
and Romans; indecent and profane still--_semper eadem_."

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, do not the expostulations of these
writers, and the arguments which they employ against an attendance
at the theatres, lead us to the conclusion that some of the early
Christians did attend them?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"No doubt, Sir, that some of the early Christians
did attend them; but their attendance was considered as the first
step to the abandonment of their religious principles--as an act
of inconsistency, which subjected them to the censures of their
brethren--an approximation to the customs of the votaries of
paganism, which, if persisted in, was visited by an exclusion from
church-fellowship. This, I think, you must admit to be decisive of
the opinion which the pure part of the primitive Christians held
respecting the lawfulness and tendency of theatrical amusements."

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, waiving the opinion of the ancient
fathers, allow me to ask you one question: If the moral tendency of
such amusements be unfavourable to private virtue, how is it that
there are no express prohibitions against them in the writings of
the apostles?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"But, Sir, do you believe that the apostles
approved of every practice which they did not _expressly_ condemn?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, yes, Sir, and I think there is strong
presumptive evidence in favour of such an opinion. Were they not
employed to furnish us with a code of laws for the government of our
conduct? and is not that code perfect? If, then, there be no law
to condemn our attendance at such places of amusement, are we not
at liberty to believe that their silence is a tacit, though not a
positive sanction?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"If, Sir, we adopt the principle for which you are
now contending, we shall be reduced to the necessity of admitting
that every modification of evil, which is not expressly condemned by
the sacred writers, is actually sanctioned by them. The absurdity of
such an opinion is not more flagrant than its tendency would prove
pernicious to the welfare of society. Is the crime of gaming, or
bull-baiting, or of forgery expressly condemned by the Scriptures?
and yet, Sir, would you venture to appeal to the silence of the
Scriptures as a tacit sanction of these vices? Some of the vices to
which human nature is addicted, in every age and in every country,
are expressly condemned, while others, which spring out of local
customs, and casual temptations, are condemned only by implication.
As a proof of the correctness of this assertion, nothing is said in
Scripture against the savage custom of exposing children; nothing
against slavery; and nothing expressly against duelling. But is not
the exposing of children condemned in that charge against the Romans
that they were 'without natural affection?' Is there not a strong
censure against slavery conveyed in the command to 'do unto others
as you would have them do unto you?' and against duelling, in the
general prohibition of murder contained in the sixth commandment?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"I admit the validity of your argument, in its
application to the crimes which you have mentioned, because they
are the more refined modifications of crimes which are expressly
condemned; but permit me to say that I do not recollect any passages
in the sacred volume, which by a fair implication, really condemn
theatrical amusements."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, Sir, by your permission, I will quote a few.
'Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the
scornful' (Psal. i. 1). Does not this passage condemn our going
into the assemblies of the ungodly? 'But I say unto you, that every
idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in
the day of judgment' (Matt. xii. 36). Are there no idle--no profane
words spoken on the stage? and if it be a crime to utter them, can
it be less than a crime to go and listen to them? 'Let no corrupt
communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to
the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers'
(Eph. iv. 29). Do no corrupt communications proceed from the mouth
of players? and if it be a crime to advance them, can it be less
than a crime to receive them? 'But fornication, and all uncleanness,
or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh
saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which
are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks' (Eph. v. 3, 4). Are
there no filthy expressions--no unhallowed jesting on the stage?
and if these vices are not to be named amongst Christians, ought
they to be sanctioned by them? 'For the time past of our life may
suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked
in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings,
and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that ye
run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you'
(1 Pet. iv. 3, 4.) Does not the apostle, in this passage, commend
those to whom it was addressed, for having renounced their former
revellings and banquetings? and does he not arm them against the
reproaches which their exemplary conduct would bring upon them? and
can we suppose that, if the apostle was now on earth, he would give
his sanction to the practice of some modern Christians, who are to
be seen, now at church, and anon at the theatre?--now receiving
the sacrament on bended knees, and anon kindling into rapture by
the exhibitions of the stage?--now giving utterance to the solemn
words, _O God, the Father of heaven, have mercy upon us miserable
sinners_, and anon applauding expressions and sentiments which no
lips can articulate but the lips of impurity? And, Sir, lest we
should, through inadvertency, expose ourselves to the hazard of
being overcome by the force of temptation, are we not commanded to
'abstain from all appearance of evil?' (1 Thess. v. 22);--to have
'no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather
reprove them?' (Eph. v. 11). Are not these injunctions violated by
those who frequent the theatre? Are we not taught to pray, _Lead us
not into temptation, but deliver us from evil?_ and do we not
offer a violence to our own belief, and an insult to our Father in
heaven, when we pass from the attitude of prayer, into the place
over which the evil spirit reigns in undisturbed sovereignty, and
where temptations of the most seducing tendency abound?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, in the application of these passages
of Scripture against an attendance on theatrical amusements, you
have taken for granted that their moral tendency is injurious to
the cultivation and growth of private and public virtue, which,
permit me to say, without intending to reflect on your good sense,
is a species of logical artifice, which I did not suppose you
would condescend to employ. It is an attempt to carry a position
by surprise, which you should have approached openly--a jesuitical
manoeuvre to take the question of debate by the adroitness of a
sheer cunning, rather than by fair argumentation. If, Sir, you had
first proved that their tendency on the morals of society is, what
you assert it to be, injurious and pernicious, I grant there would
be a propriety in the application of the passages of the Bible which
you have made, and the contest would soon be terminated; but, as
that point has not been proved, and as I now challenge you to the
proof of it, allow me to say that your reasoning has produced no
effect."

_Mr. Falkland._--"You are at perfect liberty to examine any
arguments which I may adduce against theatrical amusements with the
utmost degree of severity, and to employ what terms you please when
expressing your opinion of their character, or of their effect; but,
Sir, you cannot expect that I shall submit to your descriptions if I
think them unjust. You accuse me of taking for granted what remains
to be proved, which, you say, is not only unfair but useless. But
I appeal to your candour if I took more for granted than what was
tacitly admitted in proof, if not actually recorded. Has it not
been admitted, that expressions are sometimes uttered on the stage
which the lips of virgin modesty could not utter? If so, will you
presume to say, that the quotation which I made does not condemn
them--'But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall
speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment?' Has
it not been admitted, that expressions are uttered, and some actions
are performed in the theatre, which have a tendency to corrupt the
minds of the actors and actresses? and if so, will you say that the
injunction which commands us _to abstain from even the appearance of
evil_, does not prohibit our witnessing such actions or listening
to such expressions? If this be not proof against theatrical
amusements, what will you call proof? If this argument does not
fairly apply, it is not because it has not strength to strike, but
because you are endeavouring to raise the dust, that you may bear
off your colours to prevent them being taken. But that you may not
shout victory on your retreat, nor taunt me with unfair dealing when
you are going down, I will consent to clear the space, and meet you
on the question of the obvious and direct influence of the stage on
the morals of society."

_Mr. Talbot._--"I grant, Sir, that the Bible censures all indecent
and profane expressions, and that it points the severity of its
rebuke against every action which has a demoralizing tendency
either on the mind of the performer or the spectator; but I presume
you will not take upon yourself to say, that our best and most
popular comedies come under this sentence of condemnation? There
are two questions, I apprehend, which have an immediate claim on
our attention--first, What is the design of comedy? and, secondly,
Will the desired result be attained through its instrumentality?
In reply to the first question, I will quote the language of the
celebrated Dr. Blair:--'Comedy proposes for its object, neither the
great sufferings nor the great crimes of men: but their follies
and slighter vices--those parts of their character which raise in
beholders a sense of impropriety, which expose them to be censured
and laughed at by others, or which render them troublesome in civil
society.' And I doubt not, but with all your rancour against the
amusements of the theatre, you will agree with him in the following
opinion which he pronounces on the tendency of such a mode of
attack:--'This general idea of comedy, as a satirical exhibition of
the improprieties and follies of mankind, is an idea very moral
and useful. There is nothing in the nature, or general plan of this
kind of composition that renders it liable to censure. To polish
the manners of men, to promote attention to the proper decorum of
social behaviour, and above all, to render vice ridiculous, is
doing a real service to mankind.' This is the design which comedy
proposes to accomplish; and now, Sir, we will, if you please, pass
on to the consideration of the second question, Will the desired
result be attained through its instrumentality? By the exhibition of
folly and vice, in the persons of the actors and actresses, who are
held up to ridicule and censure, a moral effect is produced on the
audience, who retire from such a scene, where the absurdities of the
human character have been exhibited to their view, infinitely more
disgusted by them, than they ever felt when listening to the grave
lecture of censure or condemnation from the pulpit. And I think,
Sir, you will admit that the worthy doctor has given us a proof of
the correctness of his judgment, when he said, that, 'Many vices
might be more successfully exploded by employing ridicule against
them, than by serious attacks and arguments.' And though, Sir, I
have too much reverence for the pulpit to treat it with contempt,
and form too high an estimate of its moral utility in correcting the
disorders of society, to run it down, yet I doubt whether it _can_
wield such a keen and powerful weapon against the folly and vices of
the times, as the well-regulated and well-conducted stage."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Your last remark, Sir, savours so much of
infidelity, that it is both offensive to my taste, and repugnant
to my understanding; and though it does not affect the question at
issue, yet I cannot let it pass without replying to it. The pulpit,
Sir, when it is the oracle of truth, is denominated the _power of
God_--that moral instrument which he uses to renew and sanctify
our corrupt nature; and on which he has conferred the singular
honour of employing it as the means of subverting the idolatry
of ancient and modern times, and of reclaiming many thousands of
the children of disobedience to the wisdom of the just; but has
he ever identified himself with the stage? has he ever employed
the stage to turn men from darkness to light--from the power of
Satan to himself? O no! Did the stage ever recover Greece or Rome
from their licentious and barbarous rites and ceremonies? It found
them corrupt, and corrupt it left them. And what has it done for
modern Paris, where it exists in the plenitude of its glory?
There you have a proof of the weakness of its strength to reform
a people, and of the charm of its power to corrupt them. Indeed,
Sir, it requires a high degree of moral corruption as the basis
of its exhibitions, for it will be found that its performers, and
its admirers, are alike strangers to that elevated moral purity,
which brings the human spirit to some degree of resemblance to the
immaculate sanctity of the Divine nature. Hence, while many who
profess and call themselves Christians, rank amongst its advocates
and its friends, it is a fact too notorious to be concealed, that
they who are a _peculiar people_, and whose moral peculiarities are
those which the Scriptures hold out as the distinctive evidences of
the Christian character, shun it, as the habitation of evil, from
whence they are excluded no less by the force of principle than by
the voice of authority. A real Christian in a theatre, animated
and delighted with the scenes which he must behold, and with the
sentiments and expressions which he must hear, would be as great a
phenomenon as a stage player weeping at church when confessing his
sins, or overpowered with gratitude when receiving, on his knees,
the sacramental memorials of the Saviour's death."

_Mr. Talbot._--"I was not aware, Sir, that the accidental expression
of an opinion, which has no bearing on the question at issue, would
have called forth such a spontaneous burst of disapprobation; and
though it would not be very difficult to turn back some of your
pointed interrogations to your own annoyance, yet as that would
probably consume too much of our time, we will, if you please,
confine our remarks in future to the subject under discussion. To my
questions, Sir, if you please."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Well, Sir, then to the first question. You have
given such a very flattering description of the _design_ of comedy,
that you remind me of a certain painter who engaged to draw a
likeness that should represent a whole fraternity, but when he
produced it, it was found to resemble no one, having been sketched
from fancy rather than real life. I admit that a comic writer, of
rare and extraordinary powers, could get up a piece that would keep
in view, through the whole of its plot, the censure and reprobation
of the follies and vices of mankind; but have the writers of English
comedy done this? Did not the author from whom you have made your
quotations speak the truth when he said, '_that the English comedy
has been too often the school of vice_?' And is it not so? Do
not the most popular plays that are acted on the English stage
exhibit such scenes as must compel virtue, if present, to hide her
blushing face, and wish herself away? Do they not give utterance
to sentiments and expressions, which, to say the least, border on
profanity and blasphemy, and which, if admired or approved of, must
contaminate and defile?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, I hope in the ardour of your zeal against
the stage, you will not overlook the distinction which the wisest
and best of men have made between the use and the _abuse of a
thing_. I grant that certain abuses, at various periods of its
history, have disgraced this department of the drama; but what
then? is it an argument against the thing itself, any more than
the impositions of priestcraft are arguments against the value of
true religion? I grant you that the most obscene and licentious
compositions have disgraced the stage, but is the abuse of a thing
any objection against its use? Licentious writers of the comic
class, as Dr. Blair very justly remarks, have too often had it in
their power to cast a ridicule upon characters and subjects which
did not deserve it; but this is a fault not owing to the nature of
comedy, but to the genius and turn of the writers of it."

_Mr. Falkland._--"It happens unfortunately, however, for your side
of the question, that its _abuse_ has hitherto been almost the
universal characteristic of comedy, while its _use_ has scarcely
ever been exemplified. Indeed, I defy any one who has a regard for
propriety to go to a theatre without hearing something to shock his
moral feelings."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, Sir, you are aware that no play can be acted
on the English stage unless it is licensed by the lord-chamberlain,
fourteen days before it makes its appearance in public; and do
you not know that he is invested with full power to prohibit the
representation of any play, if he thinks it militates against the
interests of virtue?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, Sir, if I understand you, it is lawful to
introduce any play on the stage which the lord-chamberlain licenses?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Exactly so, Sir."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Indeed! is not this rather singular! But if a
licentious play should pass through the chamberlain's office without
being detected, and come to be represented on the stage, what would
be its reception? Are you quite sure that it would be hissed off by
a British audience?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Nothing, Sir, can be a stronger proof of the respect
which a British theatrical audience feels for pure virtue, than the
well-known opposition made to the re-appearance of K----, after his
disgraceful conduct."

_Mr. Falkland._--"That determined opposition on the part of the
more respectable public was very gratifying; but yet I am decidedly
of opinion, that if he had absented himself for a few months, or
weeks, till the public feeling had somewhat subsided, he would have
met with a cordial reception on his re-appearance on the stage. But
he was precipitate, he did not dream that there could be much more
virtue before the scenes than behind; in this, so far happily, he
was mistaken. He forgot that many who will connive at the vices of
the stage while they remain in comparative obscurity, or are only
whispered abroad in private circles, dare not, out of respect to
the decent little observances to which they are attached, connive
at them when they are sent out of a court of justice with a badge
of indelible infamy hanging about their necks. His precipitancy
was the cause of his rejection, rather than his crime; for even his
greatest opponents promised him their support, if he would refrain,
only for a fortnight, from appearing on the boards, in deference to
the taste and voice of the public."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Well, Sir, after the public had expressed their
disapprobation of his disgraceful conduct, and compelled him to
perform a theatrical penance, did you expect them to force him off
the stage for ever?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"No, Sir, I did not expect it. I know them too
well. The vices of the players will never be the means of excluding
them from the stage, if they possess the talent of pleasing the
admirers of the drama. These are a humane people whose mantle of
charity is so broad, that it will easily cover a multitude of sins;
and though some of them, when goaded by the severe invectives
of the press, will raise their indignant voice against the bold
transgressor who passes at once from a court of justice, where his
delinquencies have been exhibited in all their enormity, to the
stage, the so-styled school of morals, yet the lapse of a short
interval will soon induce an oblivion of his offences, and the
charms of his acting will soon re-establish him in the favour of the
public. But I must now return to the question under consideration.
It is not, What will a theatrical audience do, when an actor is
convicted in a court of justice of one of the worst of crimes
that can be committed against the sanctity of domestic honour and
happiness? but, What is such an audience _accustomed to do_, when a
lewd or profane comedy--a comedy which is the abuse of the thing--a
comedy which is the school of vice--is brought on the stage, and
acted in their presence?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, Sir, I presume you know that the public often
reject plays?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Yes, when they are not to their liking."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Well, Sir, then the point is decided."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Nay, good Sir, not till you have proved that their
lewdness, their profanity, and their demoralizing tendency, was
the cause of their being rejected. Prove that, and you have gained
your point, and redeemed the audience from the heavy charge which
I bring against it, of having uniformly given the least degree of
support to the purest plays, and the greatest degree of support
to the most objectionable. When the writers of comedy mix up with
their plots incidents which we could not tolerate in virtuous life,
and introduce characters in their scenes which we should shun as
the corrupters of our manners, and do this to excite ridicule and
contempt against the religion of our country by holding pious people
up to obloquy, the audience have uniformly exclaimed, 'Ah, ah, so
we would have it! This is to our taste!' The play is again and
again called for. What you call the abuse of the thing, has been,
and still is, more popular than the thing existing in what you call
its purity. How will you account for this, unless you admit that
the taste of the audience is formed from the character of their
amusements, which tend to deprave and vitiate it?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, Sir, I admit that many who attend our theatres
are persons of dubious virtue; yet, formerly a great play-goer, I
can flatly contradict this imputed propensity on the part of the
public to applaud a licentious play. I have always heard noble
sentiments echoed in public applause, and, on several occasions,
the lurking remains of the old broad comedy received with marked
disapprobation. And whatever be the opinion of those who do _not_ go
to the theatre, these facts will be corroborated by all who _do_."

_Mr. Falkland._--"You say that all who go to plays corroborate
the facts that noble sentiments are always applauded, and obscene
expressions are marked with disapprobation. Now, Sir, I can flatly
contradict this assertion, though not from personal observation,
yet from undoubted testimony. I grant that fine passages, delivered
in an eloquent style, and which breathe the noble sentiments of
patriotism, and valour, and benevolence, and indignation against
some _unpopular vice_, are heard with pleasure; but the self-same
audience, which makes the house ring with its acclamations on these
occasions, not only silently sanctions but likewise loudly applauds
profanity and indecency at other times. If this be not the case, how
is it that the plays, which are the school of vice, still appear on
the stage, and still retain their hold on popular favour?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"What plays do you refer to?"

_Mr. Falkland._--"Why, Sir, _The Hypocrite_ is one."

_Mr. Talbot._--"_The Hypocrite!_ What! do you object to _The
Hypocrite_?--A comedy which was applauded by royalty, and in which
a striking example is afforded of the attempt of fanaticism to
undermine the principles and well-being of society for its own
individual advantage, under the specious garb of religion! Surely,
you must be a very fastidious person indeed, to find anything
objectionable in that most excellent comedy! I can hardly think you
are serious."

_Mr. Falkland._--"The design of that comedy is to hold up personal
piety to ridicule and contempt, by associating it with the weakness
of the intellect, the vulgarity of unpolished manners, and the
vices of the human character; and though the writer makes an effort
at the conclusion to redeem it from such an imputation, yet such
is its obvious tendency, and such is the effect which it is known
to produce on an audience. But as I wish to shape my objections
into a tangible form, allow me to say that the introduction and
exposure on the stage of any person making pretensions to elevated
piety is, of itself, an objectionable feature, and more calculated
to excite prejudice against all professions of religion, than to
induce the hypocrite to throw off the mask. Is this favourable to
the cultivation and growth of virtue? It may be of the virtue of a
theatrical audience, which reaches not the maturity of its growth
till it has acquired the art of caricaturing righteousness, after it
has been accustomed to make a mock of sin; but it is destructive of
that pure religion which teaches us to avoid all 'foolish talking
and filthy jesting;' and to correct our personal imperfections,
instead of making sport with the vices of others. I have read this
disgusting comedy, and I do not hesitate to say, that its indecent
allusions and profane language, are enough to corrupt any mind; and
that the woman who can retire from the theatre after the curtain
drops with a desire to see it performed again, must have lost all
that refined delicacy of feeling which forms the greatest ornament
of her sex."

_Mr. Talbot._--"Stop, Sir! I cannot allow this libel to be
pronounced, without entering my protest against it."

_Mr. Falkland._--"No, Sir, it is not a libel. The allusions, the
language, and some of the actions of that play, are more becoming
a house of ill-fame than the school of virtue, as you wish me
to believe the play-house is; and I am conscious that no decent
persons, in any rank of life, would tolerate such allusions or
actions in their families. Allow me to ask one question, What
opinion would you form of a female who would consent to read that
comedy in the presence of an indiscriminate assemblage of young
people?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Of course, Sir, I should not solicit her to do it."

_Mr. Falkland._--"But suppose she was solicited to do it, and
suppose she did it without faltering and without blushing, what
opinion would you form of her modesty, or of the tone of her mind?
Would you like that female to be either your mother, your wife, your
sister, or your daughter?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Perhaps not."

_Mr. Falkland._--"So I presume; for, as the poet says--

    'Immodest words admit of no defence,
    For want of decency is want of sense.'

If, then, you would not like to hear a female read that play in a
private party, especially if that female was your own daughter, how
can you attempt to justify your conduct in wishing her to go and see
it performed?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Why, there is a little difference between the two
cases."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Yes, I grant there is a little difference between
the circumstances of the two cases; but, Sir, I appeal to your
candour and to your judgment, whether that comedy, when acted on
the stage, can promote the growth of virtue, which would have a
demoralizing effect if read in a private circle?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"In a theatre, each one is lost in the mass of the
audience, and hence no immediate effect is produced."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then, Sir, how can the stage, when it exists
in its purity, promote the growth of virtue, and how, when it is
abused, does it become the school of vice, if no immediate effect is
produced by the sentiments and actions which are there delivered and
performed?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"I mean, Sir, that a female does not sustain that
injury in the opinion of others, who goes to see this comedy
performed, which she would, if she read it to a promiscuous
assembly."

_Mr. Falkland._--"I grant it, Sir; but will her imagination sustain
no injury by the polluting impressions which it will receive? Will
her moral taste sustain no injury by the obscene sentiments and
allusions which she will hear? Will she retire as pure from all
corrupt associations, as she was when she first entered the theatre?
Will her memory carry away no expression which you would rather she
would forget?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"But, Sir, when people become familiar with the
stage, none of these evil effects are ever felt, which you imagine
must be the consequence of their attendance."

_Mr. Falkland._--"They may not be felt so forcibly as at first,
because by habit the taste becomes reconciled to them, which proves
that the stage lowers the high tone of virtue, and brings it down
so softly and so imperceptibly on a level with impurity, that
eventually its more disgusting forms and expressions merely excite
the passing smile or the burst of laughter.

    'Vice is a monster of such frightful mien,
    As to be hated, needs but to be seen;
    Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
    We first endure, then pity, then embrace.'"

_Mr. Talbot._--"It is no use, Sir, to argue against facts. I have
gone to the theatre without being injured by it; and I have known
many of my friends who have never been injured by it."

_Mr. Falkland._--"It may be so; but would you like a son or a
daughter to acquire a passion for theatrical amusements? And would
you suffer them, if they had acquired it, to go alone?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"No, Sir, I should not like my children to become
_passionately_ fond of the theatre, though I should not object to
their occasional attendance, yet I would not suffer them to go
alone."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Not like them to become passionately fond of an
amusement, which is intended and calculated to promote the growth
of their virtues! Surely, good Sir, you don't wish their virtues
to be stunted for want of nutriment; and though I can easily
conceive that the expense attending this source of gratification
and moral improvement, may form one formidable objection against
its repeated indulgence, yet, can money be better laid out, than on
the cultivation of our children's virtuous principles and habits?
Suppose, for example, you have a son who is somewhat inclined to an
evil course--one, over whose mind the grave lectures of morality
which the clergy deliver have lost their influence--who is rather
prone to treat parental authority with contempt; would you not
wish to see him cherish a passion for theatrical exhibitions,
which, according to the opinion of Mr. Proctor, and in which
opinion you concur, are designed and adapted to recommend virtue
and discountenance vice; and thus prove, by an appeal to the
senses, rather than by a process of reasoning, that virtue is
its own reward, and vice its own tormentor? If he should feel no
deep interest in these exhibitions, it is not likely that they
will produce any more powerful effect on his mind, than the grave
lectures of morality which he instinctively abhors; but if his
passions are strongly excited, and he returns to this school of
wisdom and of virtue, _con amore_--if he cannot refrain from going,
without doing violence to his feelings--if he long for the hour of
evening dress, and for the agreeable alterative of mind, which is to
divert him from the dull, monotonous duties of his station--if he
enter into the spirit of the comedy, which usually makes a libertine
the most attractive character in the piece--or if the spirit of that
character enters into him--do you not suppose that he will soon be
reclaimed from vice, and be so smitten with the charms of virtue,
as to follow her through evil and through good report? And suppose
several such young men should meet in the lobby of a theatre, which
you know, Sir, is not impossible; and suppose they should sit
together during the play, and should retire together, after the
curtain falls, and the last charms of the comic muse have passed
from the eye and the ear, do you not think that they will very
naturally begin to resolve on amending their evil course, and as
naturally resolve to become chaste, and temperate, and domesticated
in their habits? Of course you cannot for a moment imagine that they
will retire from this school of virtue to the tavern or the brothel!
No, Sir! The comic muse would stand in their way, and dispute
their passage, even if they should have a secret predilection for
such haunts; as a dumb ass once reproved the madness of a certain
prophet, on whose mind no other agent of persuasion could operate!"

_Mr. Talbot._--"Satire is no argument, Sir."

_Mr. Falkland._--"But it often puts forth a biting one, from under
the folds of its concealment; yet, as you seem to dislike it, I will
dismiss it, and return to the more grave form of debate. Permit me,
then, to ask you, if the company into which the young are introduced
at a theatre, does not form a very powerful objection against it?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"This is an objection against theatrical amusements,
which I have been expecting to make its appearance for some time;
and now it is out, I am not unwilling to meet it. I will then
confess, 'that the English box lobbies are too much disgraced by
the open display of female prostitution,' and that too many of the
baser sort of our own sex frequent the theatre; yet, as the wisest
and the best are always to be found in attendance on the comic muse,
we may very easily keep with them, and thus avoid that contagion
of evil, to which you imagine we are necessarily exposed. We know
that vice, like every other marketable commodity, will be offered
for sale in all great public assemblages. But, Sir, can you see the
vast majority of an audience rivetted on the scenic representation,
without confessing that many a youthful passion is preserved
from the _out-of-doors_ temptation to vice, by this intellectual
occupation of his time within? London, and all large towns, are,
by reason of their congregated numbers, hotbeds of vice; you know
licentiousness would find other haunts, and not be one whit limited
by the suppression of the theatre; it would be hard, indeed, that
virtue should imprison itself, because vice frequented the same
resort; on that principle we might not walk the great streets of the
metropolis, in broad day light, because of the 'polluted' neighbours
on all sides."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Then you admit that the theatre is one of the
haunts of vice; and yet you say that the wisest and the best are
always to be found in attendance there, _and from choice_! How odd,
that the wisest and the best of our wise and good men and women,
young and old, should choose to go where the most profligate and
licentious resort! Surely, you will not adduce their conduct on
this point, as a conclusive argument in favour of their superior
wisdom, or their superior love of virtue! You say, if we go, we may
keep with them! But, how shall we know the wisest and the best from
the most depraved, in such a promiscuous throng as usually crowd a
theatre?--From instinct? or from some secret sign which, like that
of the Masonic order, is concealed from every one but the initiated?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"When I go to the theatre, if I go alone, I keep
apart from others; and if I go in company, I keep with them; so that
I have no intercourse with the general audience."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Very possibly; but do all who attend the theatre
adopt the same judicious maxim?"

_Mr. Talbot._--"They may if they choose, and if they do not, they
alone are to blame."

_Mr. Falkland._--"Yes, they may! but do they? No, Sir, they do not!
Is it not there that the evil spirits of impurity spread their
nets for thoughtless and unsuspecting youth? Is it not there that
he often picks up an acquaintance, who leads him, after the play
is concluded, to the tavern--to the gaming-table--and to the house
of ill-fame? Is it not there, that the profligate female practises
her arts of seduction,[18] that he learns a profane language, and
familiarizes himself with vice in its most disgusting forms? Is it
not to this school of virtue--to this resort of the wisest and the
best--to this elysium of bliss--to this paradise of excellence--that
many of the young of both sexes have ascribed their ruin? Wonder,
O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth! The school of virtue teaching
vice!--the resort of the wisest and the best the haunt of the
most licentious!--the elysium of bliss the common receptacle of
outcast misery!--where iniquity reigns, as in the high place of
its dominion, and on which thousands look in all the bitterness of
anguish, as the spot where they fell from their original purity and
honour to degradation and crime!"

  [18] An intelligent gentleman, who had served the office of
  constable in a large midland town, once remarked to the author,
  "I observed the number of prostitutes was considerably increased
  very soon after the opening of the theatre; many also coming from
  neighbouring towns during the theatrical season." Strange, indeed,
  if the stage be the school of virtue, that these pests of society
  should always be found existing near it! When we see the vultures
  flying towards any particular spot, there we may expect to find
  death and corruption.

_Mr. Talbot._--"You can paint, Sir."

_Mr. Falkland._--"But not the theatre as it is. That's impossible.
I cannot describe the evils, the contaminating evils, to which
a young person is exposed who visits this haunt of vice--this
dwelling-place of sin--this temple of lewdness, of whose priests
and priestesses 'it is a shame even to speak of those things which
are done of them in secret'--this Augean stable of infamy, which
no waters have ever been able to cleanse. You say, that while the
youth is within the theatre he is preserved from the temptations
which are out of doors--a truism no one will doubt; and so he is,
when in a gaming-room, and so he is when in a tavern; but, Sir, is
he not, when coming away from the theatre, exposed to the out-door
temptations, and very often prepared, by what he sees and hears,
to yield more easily to them. The following fact, which is too
well attested to be denied, lets us into the awful secret of the
tendency of theatrical exhibitions; and if it were necessary, I
could adduce many instances of the most promising young men, and of
the most amiable females, who, by frequenting a theatre, have lost
their character; blasted their prospects of happiness for life, and
brought down the gray hairs of their parents with sorrow to the
grave:--

"'The robberies committed daily in the streets, during the
representation of the _Beggar's Opera_, were beyond the example of
former times; and several thieves and robbers confessed in Newgate,
that they raised their courage in the playhouse by the songs of
their hero, Macheath, before they sallied forth on their desperate
nocturnal exploits. So notorious were the evil consequences of its
frequent representation become, that the Middlesex justices united
with Sir John Fielding in requesting Mr. Garrick to desist from
performing it, as they were of opinion that it was never represented
on the stage, without creating an additional number of real
thieves.' Thus we see the debt of gratitude which the morality of
the public soon contracted with this agent of its reformation, who,
for sixty-three nights in succession, during the first season of his
labours, delivered his maxims of wisdom, and his lessons of virtue,
which, by some peculiar fatality, became the means of corrupting
the audience to a most alarming extent; but to hold the stage
responsible for this, would be, of course, a breach of the law of
charity! 'The second season of this opera was as productive as the
first; nor were the provincial stages without their gleanings from
the poet's harvest; it was acted fifty nights at Bath and Bristol.
Not only Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, but Minorca, and other
distant regions, saw it in their theatres; while its songs were
everywhere to be read on fans, handkerchiefs, and fire-screens.'
Wherever this thief-maker went, he was received with raptures by the
admirers of the drama; they sung his praises and gave him the homage
of their affection as the idol god of their theatrical adorations,
and he had, like ancient Moloch, the high gratification of seeing
many of his devoted worshippers doomed to an untimely destruction.
And yet, Sir, with such facts staring you in the face--with such
confessions of convicted guilt--you have the temerity to maintain
that the theatre is favourable to the cultivation and the growth of
public and private virtue! Can you hope to gain proselytes to your
opinion? Do you imagine that we are to be duped into the admission
of an assertion which no argument can support, which recorded facts
so unequivocally disprove, and which the worst men, in common with
the best, reject as an insult offered to the obvious dictates
of their understanding? Do you suppose that we have reached the
dotage of our existence, when the intellect, paralyzed by some
extraordinary visitation of Heaven, or worn out by the intensity of
its own labours, is to sit down at the feet of absurdity, to receive
the monstrous extravagancies of convicted falsehood as the lucid and
resistless enunciations of oracular truth? No, Sir. A general belief
is gone abroad, and it exists no less firmly amongst many of the
admirers of the drama, than amongst its most determined opponents,
that while the stage may be vindicated as a source of amusement,
an attempt to vindicate it as the handmaid of virtue is no less
disreputable to the understanding, than it is to the moral taste of
the advocate, who, however dexterous he may be in his pleadings,
labours under the disadvantage of appearing in court, after the
judges have taken the verdict of an honest jury."

_Mr. Proctor._--"I am now, Sir, decidedly of your opinion on this
point; though I must confess I have often enjoyed a good play. The
stage, in its present state, amuses many, and gratifies their taste,
but it certainly does defile the imagination, and too often pollutes
the heart; and where one young person receives any moral good, very
many, I do believe, are corrupted and ruined. It may be defended as
a source of amusement, but it is no handmaid of virtue; it is a very
demon in the art of seduction. I had many qualms of conscience, when
I did go to the theatre; but it is now more than two years since I
entered one, and I must confess, that the present discussions have
satisfied me, that I have acted a wise and a safe part by abstaining
from going; nor will I ever go again, or allow any child of mine to
go. In fact, I think it would be a public good, to shut up all the
theatres in the country."

_Mr. Falkland._--"My respected friend, I assure you, I am highly
gratified to hear from your lips, such a candid confession and
such a noble resolve; and I think my formal antagonist in these
discussions, on cool reflection, will admit, that a passion for
theatrical amusements had better be repressed than encouraged; as it
is always hazardous, and sometimes fatal, especially to the young
and incautious."



UNITARIANISM RENOUNCED.


The power of early impressions and education is universally
admitted; and when erroneous views have been imbibed from infancy,
and become associated with everything that is hallowed in our
domestic recollections, the influence exercised by them on the mind
is so strong as very generally to maintain undisputed authority
throughout life. Truth will sometimes, however, assert her
supremacy, and succeed in producing conviction, even where she has
to contend with the most deep-rooted feelings and long-cherished
prejudices. These remarks are suggested by the history of Mr.
Macfarlane, an intelligent and pious young man, whom I met at the
house of Mr. Proctor, on the occasion of the discussion narrated
in the foregoing chapters. I had frequently heard of him from a
friend, of whose church he was a member, and been led to take a
great interest in him from the account which had been given me of
his religious history and that of his sister. This I shall now
proceed to narrate, as exhibiting the progress, from the frigid zone
of Unitarianism, to the warmth and sunshine of pure evangelical
religion.

Mr. Macfarlane's father was a wealthy merchant in the town where
I resided, universally esteemed for his amiable character and
unsullied integrity. Descended from ancestors who had borne a
distinguished part in the struggles for civil and religious liberty
during the seventeenth century, he was himself the son of pious
parents, but their death, within a short period of each other, while
he was but a child, deprived him of the advantages which he might
have derived from their example and instructions. Left to the care
of a maternal uncle, whose sentiments were of no decided order,
he grew up to manhood with no one to guide him in his religious
belief; and having, on his first entering into business, formed an
intimacy with some zealous Unitarians, he imbibed their opinions,
and regularly attended the ministry of one of their most celebrated
preachers. He was too eager in the pursuit of wealth to devote much
time to speculative inquiries, and of too retiring a disposition
to take any part in discussion when theological topics became the
subject of conversation; but he cheerfully and conscientiously
supported the benevolent institutions connected with his
denomination, which he thought the most enlightened and intelligent
in the kingdom. While he admitted the truth of the Christian
religion, he thought its records so ambiguous, or so corrupted in
the early ages, that they ought not to be implicitly received. "I
will believe nothing," he often used to say, "which I cannot fully
comprehend; and I feel myself as much at liberty to dispute the
opinion of an apostle, when he speaks on any speculative doctrine,
as I do to examine the opinion of any other man." He rejected the
divinity of Jesus Christ as indignantly as a Christian would the
divinity of the pagan deities--often expressed his surprise that any
enlightened man could be brought to believe in the doctrine of the
atonement--and regarded the belief in the reality of a supernatural
influence over the human mind, as one of the corruptions of
Christianity, which exposed it to the ridicule and contempt of
infidels.

But though a decided Unitarian, he did not condemn those who
differed from him, believing that the Supreme Being is altogether
regardless of our speculative opinions, if we do justice, love
mercy, and walk humbly with him. "If we are virtuous in this life
we shall be happy in the life to come,"--was with him a favourite
saying. He was the living personification of the social virtues; and
justly esteemed for his kindness, his generosity, his integrity,
and universal benevolence. Mr. Macfarlane, Senior, was a widower,
with two children, a son and daughter, who, at the time I speak
of, were between twenty and thirty years of age. The son was in
business with his father, and the daughter managed the household
affairs. Miss Macfarlane was a young lady of amiable temper, retired
in her habits, fond of reading, and devoted to the promotion of the
happiness and comfort of her father and brother. As she had a good
deal of leisure at her disposal, she was employed as the almoner of
her father's bounty; and took much pleasure in this work of mercy.

She was somewhat religiously inclined; but as the system of
religion under which she was educated possessed no power to
interest the heart, her religion was confined to a cold assent to
a few speculative opinions, and the observance of some external
ceremonies. She occasionally read the Bible, but from her religious
training she yielded no submission to its authority; and, as a
natural consequence, she was strongly prejudiced against the
evangelical sentiments of orthodox Christians. Though she had
several friends belonging to their number, and among others Miss
Reynolds, a young lady of decided piety, yet even with her,
notwithstanding their great intimacy, she invariably declined to
enter into conversation on the subject. She usually accompanied
her father and her brother on the Sabbath to the Unitarian chapel,
where the celebrated Dr. R---- preached, to whose ministry they
were all much attached. On one occasion he delivered a discourse
from the beautiful words of the psalmist:--"Thou wilt shew me the
path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right
hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm xvi. 11). After an
eloquent dissertation on the nature of the Deity, and the assistance
afforded by Him to those following the arduous path of virtue,
he concluded thus:--"Supposing the ideas which I have set before
you to be no more than the speculations of a contemplative mind,
such as were wont of old to be indulged by the philosophers of the
Platonic school, still they would deserve attention, on account
of their tendency to purify and elevate the mind. But when they
are considered in connection with a revelation which we believe to
be Divine, they are entitled to command, not attention only, but
reverence and faith. They present to us such high expectations as
are sufficient to determine every reasonable man to the choice of
virtue, to support him under all his present discouragements, and
to comfort him in the hour of death. Justly may they excite in our
hearts that ardent aspiration of the psalmist:--'My soul thirsteth
for God, for the living God; O! when shall I come, and appear before
him?' But with this wish in our hearts, never, I beseech you, let us
forget what was set forth in the first part of this discourse;--that
in order to arrive at the presence of God, _the path of life_ must
previously be shown to us by him, and that in this path we must
persevere to the end. These two things cannot be disjoined--a
virtuous life and a happy eternity."

As they were conversing together in the evening of the Sabbath,
a reference was made to this discourse, when young Macfarlane
expressed the high degree of pleasure which it had given him. "I
never," he remarked, "heard a more interesting sermon. What a
sublime prospect does Christianity open before us! I wonder how any
intelligent person can reject it."

"Yes," said his father, "it was a very judicious sermon. I was much
delighted with it. We have something to look forward to when it
shall please God to remove us by death; for as I have often told
you, _If we are virtuous in this life, we shall be happy in the life
to come_."

"But, father," said the son, after a short pause, "if only the
virtuous can attain to a state of felicity in heaven, as we were
informed this morning, what will become of the wicked?"

"I cannot tell; and I think that Dr. R---- displayed his accustomed
good sense in making no reference to them."

"But, father, we know that the majority in every age, and in every
country, are wicked; and it strikes me, though I confess I have
never thought on the subject before, that if the Deity condescended
to reveal a system of religion, to promote the present and future
happiness of his creatures, he would reveal one that is adapted to
the moral condition of the majority, rather than to that of the
select few."

"We have nothing to do with others; it is enough for us to know,
that if we are virtuous in this life, we shall be happy in the life
to come."

The subject was now dropped till after their father had retired
to rest, when it was resumed. "Your remark on the sermon we heard
to-day," said Miss Macfarlane to her brother, "I think is a very
just one. It certainly demands attention. If the virtuous only can
be saved, the great majority of the human race must perish."

"Very true; and we know that many who become virtuous in old age,
have been dissipated in their youthful days. Can such persons expect
a state of future felicity as confidently as though they had always
been virtuous? And, after all, what is virtue? It is simply a line
of conduct that runs parallel with the requirements of the society
amongst which we live, and which we know varies so much in different
nations and amongst different people, that what some call a virtuous
action, we should condemn as an outrage on the feelings of humanity.
A Hindoo applauds the virtue of the eldest son, who sets fire to the
pile which is to consume his deceased father and living mother; but
were he to do such a deed here, he would be execrated as a monster,
and amenable to the law. Can we suppose that the Supreme Being will
award a state of future happiness to a Hindoo, for an action for
which he would punish an European, by excluding him from heaven?
Impossible!"

"And beside," said Miss Macfarlane, "how shall we know when we have
acquired that _exact degree_ of virtue which will entitle us to
expect a state of felicity in the life to come? The more I think on
the subject, the more I am perplexed. What shall we do, for I feel
the subject too important to be dismissed?"

After some further conversation, they resolved to examine the
Scriptures, to see if they could gain any information; and
providentially they turned to the fifth chapter of Paul's Epistle
to the Romans. There they read the following verses with deep
interest:--"For when we were yet without strength, in due time
Christ died for the ungodly.... God commendeth his love towards us,
in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.... For if,
when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his
Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
"Here we find," said Mr. Macfarlane, "the apostle speaking of the
salvation of _the ungodly_, of _sinners_, and of _enemies_." They
proceeded in their examination, and perceived, from many passages
which they met with in other epistles, that the current language of
the Scripture plainly and unequivocally proves, that the revelation
of mercy was intended to benefit the guilty and depraved as well as
the virtuous.

One passage particularly arrested their attention in the second
chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians--"And you hath he
quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time
past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to
the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh
in the children of disobedience." On reading these verses, Mr.
Macfarlane remarked:--"We are to remember, that at the period when
Christianity was first promulgated by the apostles, the whole of
the Gentile world was sunk into a state of the grossest ignorance,
superstition, and vice; and though some of its most celebrated
philosophers and statesmen were distinguished for their love of
virtue, yet the immense majority of the people were addicted to
almost every species of gross immorality. If, then, a state of
future felicity is reserved only for the virtuous, and no provision
is made for the salvation of the wicked, the labours of the apostles
must have been restricted to the few who had kept themselves from
the moral corruptions of the age in which they lived. But such an
opinion receives no sanction from this passage, which speaks of the
salvation of those who had their conversation in times past in the
lusts of their flesh, 'fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of
the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.'"

On turning their attention to the brief delineation which the
apostle has given of his own character before his conversion to the
faith in Christ, they were struck with his declaration respecting
the design of our Lord's mission. "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. Howbeit for this cause I
obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all
long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe
on him to life everlasting." "You perceive," said Mr. Macfarlane to
his sister, "the apostle says, that Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners; and saved the chief of them, as a pattern for the
encouragement of others who may deem themselves equally guilty, to
hope in the mercy of God."

"We thus see," said Mr. Macfarlane, "that the epistles prove that
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners from a state of
future misery, and to fit them for heaven; but then comes the
question, What degree of dependence ought we to place on their
testimony? May they not have become corrupted in the course of time?
or may not the writers of them have committed some mistake?"

"So, brother, we have been taught to believe, but it is possible
that we may be mistaken. However, as we cannot now, by any process
of inquiry, decide on the genuineness of the passages which we have
been examining, let us turn our attention to the gospels, and see if
they exhibit the same views on this subject as the epistles. Because
we may fairly infer, that if the whole of the Bible is written
by the inspiration of the Almighty, we shall find a continuity
and harmony of thought running through the various parts of it,
and especially on that paramount question which now engages our
attention."

"As it is now getting very late," Mr. Macfarlane observed, "we will
not go into that question to-night; but I will contrive to get
home to-morrow rather earlier than usual, when we will pursue our
inquiries."

"My mind, dear brother, is painfully excited by the discoveries we
have already made, as they have convinced me that our theory of
belief is in direct opposition to that of the apostles, who were
initiated into the Christian faith by the oral instructions of Jesus
Christ."

"Yes, this I feel. But still the discovery should not distress us;
it should rather excite our gratitude; for if we find, on more
careful inquiry, that we have been holding false opinions, we can
renounce them, and adopt the true system of belief."

They continued their investigations of Scripture from evening
to evening, sometimes together, sometimes apart, and made rapid
progress in the knowledge of Divine truth.

"I have hitherto thought," said Mr. Macfarlane, as he sat with
his sister one evening, "that Jesus Christ came as a teacher, to
instruct us how to attain to a state of future happiness, and to
inculcate on us, by the purity of his example, the cultivation of
the social virtues. However, on a careful examination of the New
Testament, I feel very much struck with the express reason which He
gave to his apostles, for his coming into the world--'Even as the
Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to
give his life a ransom for many' (Matt. xx. 28). He certainly knew
what he came to do--and he says he came to die--to die voluntarily,
by giving his life, not giving it as an act of martyrdom, but as
a ransom to redeem many. Now this must refer to the _many_, in
some condition of danger; not to any select few of the amiable and
virtuous, in no danger."

"I also," remarked his sister, "feel very forcibly impressed with
the reason which Jesus Christ assigns for his going to visit
Zaccheus, who appears to have been before his conversion a great
sinner. 'For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that
which was lost' (Luke xix. 10). There is nothing about teaching,
as the direct import of his mission, but seeking after sinners to
rescue them from the danger of perishing. This harmonizes with
the statement of the apostle Paul, which has already engaged our
attention."

"Very true. And if we take for our guidance the undisputed axiom,
that facts determine and explain theory, we may, by a careful
examination of the narratives which are reported by the evangelists,
make some safe progress in the inquiry we are now pursuing as to
the design of the mission of Jesus Christ. You have been turning
your attention to the conversion of Zaccheus, and I have been
turning mine to that of the thief on the cross, both ranked among
the chief of sinners; but both were converted and saved by faith
in Christ. The malefactor, when dying, made his appeal to Jesus,
saying, 'Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom' (Luke
xxiii. 42). How prompt and benign is the answer, 'Verily I say unto
thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise!' What a solace this
promise must have been to the poor sufferer--a bright and soothing
prospect in the midst of his agonies! And with what authority Jesus
speaks--assuming the right of fixing the final destiny of this dying
criminal, and of advancing him to the honour of associating with him
in the celestial paradise! He must have been something more than
man to speak thus, and to assume such a prerogative, on such an
occasion."

"Such a conviction," observed Miss Macfarlane, "forced itself very
strongly on my mind, when reading the Gospel of John, particularly
the following passages, which never attracted my attention before:
'For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and
giveth life unto the world.... And Jesus said unto them, I am the
bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that
believeth on me shall never thirst.... And this is the will of him
that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on
him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last
day.... I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any
man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I
will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world'
(John vi. 33, 35, 40, 51). 'As the Father knoweth me, even so know I
the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.... I and my Father
are one' (John x. 15, 30). We here see that he claims an equality
with his Father, which would have been an act of blasphemy to have
done if he were only a man; he lays down his life of his own accord,
for the benefit of man; asserts that the possession of everlasting
life is made dependent on our believing on Him; and says, that if we
do so, He will raise us from the grave at the last day."

"You have compressed within a very narrow compass, a series of
truths which now appear novel to us both, though we must often have
seen them when reading the New Testament; and which most certainly
are of immense importance, demanding our most serious attention.
Hitherto we have regarded Jesus Christ as a mere man, though one
of a superior order--surpassing all other men in intelligence and
personal excellencies; but I begin to regard him as God in the form
of man, as on such an hypothesis, all his sayings and doings, I
believe, will be found to harmonize. On coming home this evening, I
stepped into a bookseller's shop, and asked for the best work on the
divinity of Jesus Christ. I bought the one recommended, and here it
is--_The Scripture Testimony to the Messiah_, by the Rev. Dr. J. P.
Smith. Let us then postpone all further discussion on the subjects
of our present inquiry, till we have carefully read Dr. Pye Smith's
book. When we have done this, we shall be better qualified to pursue
our inquiries, and arrive at some satisfactory conclusion. There
are three leading questions we have to attend to--_First_, What is
the testimony of the sacred writers as it relates to the person of
Jesus Christ?--is he a mere man, or does he unite in his person the
Divine with the human nature? _Second_, What is the express purpose
for which he came into the world?--was it to teach the lessons of
wisdom and of virtue, enforcing his instructions by the purity of
his example? or was it for the purpose of redeeming sinners from
some fatal danger? And, _third_, Are his sufferings expiatory--the
meritorious cause of human salvation? or must we look upon them as a
contingent evil, inseparably connected with his mysterious history?"

"Yes," said Miss Macfarlane, "these three questions will include
everything we want definitively settled; and I hope the Spirit of
wisdom from above will guide us in our researches, to understand
what is revealed to us in the Bible. I will take, if you please,
the Doctor's second volume, which I see is an examination of the
narratives given to us by the evangelists."

"And I will go through his third volume, which gives us the
testimony of the apostles; and when we have done this, we will
examine together his first volume, which is a record of what the
prophets predicted concerning him."

The absence of Mr. Macfarlane, Senr., for a few weeks, on his
annual visit to a brother who resided in Yorkshire, gave them an
opportunity of devoting their attention more uninterruptedly to the
important inquiry in which they were now engaged. As they advanced,
they felt the evidence in confirmation of the divinity of Jesus
Christ, and his vicarious death, gradually increasing in clearness
and force, till they arrived at the full conviction that he was the
Son of God, on an equality with his Father, though appearing on
earth as the Son of man, and giving his life as a ransom to redeem
the guilty and worthless.

They now began to feel anxious in behalf of their father, who was
living in the rejection of the essential truths of the Scriptures,
under the delusive spell of Unitarian error. They, however, deemed
it advisable to proceed with caution, lest he should peremptorily
refuse to have any discussion whatever on the subject. On the
Sabbath after his return, they excused themselves from going with
him to chapel, which astounded him; but he had too much respect for
the right of private judgment to attempt to impose any restraint. In
the evening, as they were conversing together, he said, "Why did you
leave the intelligent preaching of our learned minister, to hear the
mysterious doctrines of Calvinism enforced? Have you been as much
pleased as you were with the excellent discourse we heard the Sunday
before I left home?"

"The discourse which we then heard," replied his son, "we thought
very excellent; but we were so much struck with the remark of Dr.
R----, that the felicities of heaven are reserved only for the
virtuous, that, on reflection, we could not agree with him; because
on such an hypothesis the vast majority in every age, and in every
country, would be consigned over to a state of hopeless misery."

"And do you now think that any other but virtuous people will ever
be received into heaven?"

"On searching the Scripture, which we have done with
diligence during your absence, we find that the ungodly--that
transgressors--that those who are enemies to God by wicked
works--that the children of disobedience--and that the chief of
sinners, may be saved. This new view of the revelation of mercy,
which is sanctioned by the current language of the Bible, appears to
us more consistent with the benevolence of the Supreme Being, and
much better adapted to the real character and condition of the great
mass of mankind, than the statement of Dr. R----."

"By your permission, Papa," said Miss Macfarlane, "I will read Dr.
Doddridge's 'Paraphrase and Improvement of one of our Saviour's
Parables,' which I think is so excellent, and so much in point, that
it will afford you as much pleasure as it has given me."

"I have no objection to your reading a quotation from Dr. Doddridge,
because I have always considered him a moderate, as well as a very
learned man. I think he is mistaken in his views of some of the
speculative truths of revelation; but I like him as a practical
writer."

The parable is contained in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel
by Luke, and the paraphrase runs thus:--"But [Jesus] for the
encouragement of these few penitents, as well as to rebuke the
censorious and uncharitable Pharisees, spake to them this parable,
and said, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose
one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine, that were feeding
together in the pastures of the wilderness, and go from place
to place in search after it, and having at length found it, he
layeth it on his shoulders, greatly rejoicing, as a man in such
circumstances naturally would? And when he cometh home, he calleth
together his friends and neighbours, and says unto them with great
pleasure, My friends, you may now rejoice with me; for my labour
and search have not been in vain, but I have found my sheep which
was lost. And as he thus is more delighted with the recovery of the
sheep which he had lost, than with the safety of the rest, which
had not wandered, so I say unto you that greater and more sensible
joy will be in heaven among the blessed and benevolent spirits that
dwell there, over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and
nine just persons which need no repentance, or such a universal
change of mind and character.

"How graceful and lovely does our Lord appear, while thus opening
his compassionate arms and heart to those wretched outcasts, for
whose souls no man cared! Who can choose but rejoice at this jubilee
which he proclaimed among them, and at the cheerful attention which
they gave to these glad tidings of great joy? May we who are his
followers never despise the meanest, or the worst of men, when
they seem disposed to receive religious instruction, but rather
exert ourselves with a distinguished zeal, as knowing that the joy
of the heavenly world, in their recovery, will be in some measure
proportionable to the extremity of their former danger.

"Let us often recollect the charity and goodness of these perfected
spirits, who look down from their own glory with compassion on
mortals wandering in the paths of the destroyer, and who sing
anthems of thankfulness and joy, when by Divine grace they are
reclaimed from them. Let every sinner be touched by a generous
desire that he who has been in so many instances the offender and
burden of the earth, may become the joy of heaven by his sincere
conversion."

"You know, my children," said old Mr. Macfarlane, "that I have
endeavoured to train you up in the paths of virtue, and to give you
what I conceive correct views of religion; but if you on examination
feel dissatisfied with any opinions which I have inculcated, you
ought most certainly to renounce them. You have the same right to
think, and judge, and decide for yourselves, as I have; and I feel
too much affection for you to throw on the path of your inquiry
the slightest shadow of opposition. I know you are virtuous; and
if I see you happy, I shall be satisfied. You will proceed in your
inquiries after truth with caution--weigh with the greatest nicety
the evidence which may be submitted to you; as many opinions, when
they first strike our attention, appear very specious and plausible,
which will not endure the ordeal of a critical investigation. I
cannot give you better advice than that which the apostle gave to
the believers of Thessalonica, 'Prove all things; hold fast that
which is good.'"

"To be candid, my dear father," said his son, "the result of the
investigation which we have been pursuing with close, and I may say
prayerful, attention, is a firm belief in the supreme divinity of
Jesus Christ; and also in the reality and efficacy of the atonement
he made in behalf of sinners by his vicarious death."

"I certainly regret that you should adopt such a belief, which, I
have always told you, is a corruption of Christianity."

"No, father, it is a belief which owes its origin to the concurrent
testimony of the sacred writers. If the sacred writers, and if Jesus
Christ himself had made no statements on this subject, the question
of his divinity would never have been agitated, neither would the
question of his atonement for the sins of the world. If, then, it
be an error, it is one for which they are responsible; they assert
the fact of his divinity so clearly, that I feel compelled to do
one of two things--either impeach their integrity, or admit his
divinity. To give you a specimen. The prophet Isaiah says, 'His name
shall be called Wonderful, the MIGHTY GOD;' the apostle Paul says,
'He was GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH;' and Jesus Christ himself, who
knew who and what he was, asserts his EQUALITY with his Father,
in _power_, in _knowledge_, and in his claims on the homage and
love of his disciples. Would the prophets and apostles have used
these expressions if they had been Unitarians believing in Christ's
exclusive humanity?"

"You must not form your judgment from a few isolated passages of the
Bible, which are susceptible of a different interpretation."

"I admit this; but, in the first place, Dr. Pye Smith, and other
men of learning, have proved, that the most correct interpretation
of the passages I have now quoted, is the orthodox interpretation;
however, waiving that debateable point, would any Unitarian, if left
to express his own opinion of the person of Jesus Christ, employ
terms which should allow any one fairly to infer that he is a Divine
Incarnation?"

"Why, no, I should think not."

"Then, why have the sacred writers done it? But to proceed: in the
next place--these isolated passages, dear father, are in exact
harmony with the general statement of all the sacred writers. Surely
we cannot suppose that the very men who were employed as the agents
of a Divine revelation, would be allowed to entrap us into the
double crime of idolatry and blasphemy, by compelling any one who
admits their integrity, to bow down and do homage to Jesus Christ
as to God. There is one fact in the history of our Saviour, which,
in my opinion, may set at defiance the most ingenious and subtle
casuist that ever made an effort to subvert or mystify human belief.
In addressing his opponents, he adopted a style of speech which
stirred up their wrath, and made them accuse him of blasphemy for
making himself God, that is, by trying to make them believe he was
God. Now, father, I put this plain, common-sense question, Would
any good man, especially one so good as Jesus Christ, when speaking
of himself, employ expressions which should convey to others the
idea that he was God in the form of man, to whom all men are to
pay homage, and on whom all who hope to be saved are to depend for
salvation and eternal life?"

"There is a great deal of ambiguity in the language of the
Scripture, which, as the apostle Paul says, is hard to be
understood."

"That I admit; but such an admission does not affect the question
before us; which is this--Would any man of intelligence and virtue,
when speaking of himself, use any expressions which should induce
people to believe that he was God? In fact, would not such an
attempt, if made, as has happened occasionally in modern times, be
considered a proof of insanity? The rejection of the divinity of
Jesus Christ would indeed reduce me to a very serious dilemma. In
the first place, I must impeach the integrity of the sacred writers,
which would compel me to reject the entire system of revelation,
as a gross imposition on human credulity; and, in the next place,
I must look on Jesus Christ as an insane person, or a blasphemer.
I see no alternative between universal scepticism and the devout
reception of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ and his
atonement."

"I certainly should prefer what is called orthodoxy to universal
scepticism; but I shall never be able to bring my mind to receive
what I cannot comprehend; and this a believer in Christ's divinity
and atonement is compelled to do."

"This, my dear father, is one of the delusive objections to the
orthodox faith, under which we have too long taken refuge. Why, is
not a Unitarian compelled to believe what he cannot comprehend?
For example, do you not believe in the eternal existence of God--a
glorious self-existing Being, who lives by the power of his own
volition, with whom there is no variableness neither shadow of
turning?"

"True; though I must confess it never struck me before. This
staggers me. Well, my dear children, our difference on points of
speculative belief will make no alteration in our mutual attachment;
you will remain, I have no doubt, pure and virtuous, as you always
have been; and I trust we shall together participate in the
felicities of heaven, when our earthly course is finished, even if
we should never, as we once did, believe exactly alike."

In the course of the following week, Miss Macfarlane received a
visit from Miss Reynolds, her pious friend already referred to, who
was not more astonished than delighted by seeing her at the chapel
in ---- Street, on the preceding Sabbath. After a little desultory
conversation, Miss Reynolds said, "We were rather surprised to see
you and your brother at our chapel on Sabbath; but I hope we shall
have the pleasure of seeing you there again."

"Your surprise," replied Miss Macfarlane, "is very natural. Yes, you
will see us again, as we have both decided to attend Mr. ---- in
future. The system of Unitarianism, in which we have been educated,
we have discovered is delusive--a fatal perversion of the theory of
revealed truth; and though it may suit the virtuous part of society,
who have no perceptions of the evil of sin, yet, as it makes no
provision for the salvation of sinners, it cannot afford peace to a
wounded conscience."

"And has my dear Eliza at length discovered that she is a sinner!"

"I have not only discovered it, but I have felt it; and I still feel
it. You know how I have repelled such a charge in time past; but I
can repel it no longer. My conscience bears testimony to its truth.
I cannot accuse myself of having violated any of the laws of social
life, but I perceive that I have broken the law of God, and stand
guilty in his sight."

"As this is a new discovery, will you tell me how you made it?"

"The first circumstance which excited our attention was a very
excellent sermon, preached a short time since by Dr. R----, on
the felicity of heaven, which he said was reserved only for the
virtuous. When conversing together on the subject, in the evening
of the Sabbath, my brother said to Papa, If the virtuous only can
attain a state of felicity, what will become of the wicked, who
we know constitute the great bulk of society in every age and in
every country? As his reply gave us no satisfaction, we began
to search the Scriptures, which soon convinced us that even the
chief of sinners could be saved. The subject of inquiry appeared
to us no less important than it was novel; it deeply engaged our
attention, and we pursued it with intense application. Dr. Pye
Smith's _Scripture Testimony to the Messiah_ settled our belief;
and now we feel compelled to withdraw from all religious fellowship
with those who refuse to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Knowing, from your testimony and that of others, that your excellent
pastor stands very high in public estimation, we decided on hearing
him, and I trust that the impression which his discourse made on our
minds will never be effaced. He has given to us, if I may use such
an expression, the clue of a clearer discovery on some important
branches of revealed truth; and now we can perceive beauties in
the sacred volume which lay concealed from our eye, and we can now
understand many passages which had ever before appeared obscure and
inexplicable. But at times I feel a depression of spirits which
I cannot remove; yet it does not proceed from any regret at the
step we have taken, or any mistrust in the truthfulness of our new
belief, but from a keen sense of my personal unworthiness of the
Divine favour."

"I am rejoiced, dear Eliza," replied Miss Reynolds, "to hear you
utter such sentiments. God is dealing graciously with your soul.
He wounds to heal. He has convinced you of the evil of sin, and
unveiled before you that abyss of danger, to which you were exposed,
so as to prepare you for the manifestations of his favour, beaming
on you through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ."

"But I fear that the Saviour will not look on me with an eye of
pity, as I have so often insulted him by denying his divinity, and
the efficacy of his death as an expiation for human guilt. I am
now astonished how I could reject doctrines which are so plainly
revealed in the Bible; and sometimes the guilt of my conduct appears
so great, that I am more disposed to despair of mercy than to
cherish the hope of obtaining it."

"If you still persisted in denying his divinity, and rejecting the
atonement which he has made for sin, you might despair of mercy; but
if you admit these essential doctrines of the Christian scheme of
salvation, you may plead the promises of grace with confidence. The
Redeemer will execute judgment in the last day upon ungodly sinners
for all the hard speeches which they have spoken against him, if
they die in a state of confirmed impenitence; but if they repent
of their evil deeds and hard speeches, he will, as a faithful and
merciful High Priest, have compassion on them, will intercede for
them, and will save them."

"I now receive these doctrines as essential parts of the system of
revealed truth; but yet I sometimes feel a recurrence of my former
prejudices against them, which causes me unutterable distress. When
pleading the atonement as the foundation of my acceptance with God,
I am tempted to mistrust its efficacy; and when my heart begins to
glow with warm affection for the Redeemer, it is suddenly chilled
and suppressed by the influence of early opinions and associations.
They have taken such a firm hold of my imagination, that I cannot
disengage myself from them; and I fear they will always continue to
perplex and depress me."

"That does not surprise me. It is no easy thing for the human mind
to disengage itself from the influence of early opinions, even
after they have been renounced; but the Lord has laid help upon One
who is mighty, and whose grace will be found sufficient for you.
I would advise you to read the Scriptures with close and devout
attention; but your greatest dependence for deliverance from your
early associations should be placed on prayer. For the judgment may
be convinced of the truth by a logical process of investigation and
reasoning, even while the heart is unimpressed by it; God having
reserved to himself the power of making the truth effectual to the
salvation of them that believe, which power he exercises in answer
to prayer. The language of the psalmist is very applicable to the
present state of your mind--'Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my
soul. Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy
truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee
do I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies, and thy
loving-kindnesses: for they have been ever of old. Remember not the
sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy
remember thou me, for thy goodness' sake, O Lord.'

"There is one part of the system of revealed truth," continued Miss
Reynolds, "which has not yet engaged your attention, and as it is
one of vital importance, I cannot avoid alluding to it. The part to
which I now refer, is the agency of the Divine Spirit, by which we
become strengthened in our inner man, to receive the truth in the
love of it, and to discharge the high and sacred obligations which
devolve on us. By your permission, I will read to you an extract
from a book which I happen to have brought with me:[19]--

"'As we are indebted to the Spirit for the first formation of the
divine life, so it is He who alone can maintain it, and render it
strong and vigorous. It is his office to actuate the habits of grace
where they are already planted; to hold our souls in life, and to
'strengthen us, that we may walk up and down in the name of the
Lord.' It is his office to present the mysteries of salvation; the
truths which relate to the mediation of Christ and the riches of his
grace, in so penetrating and transforming a manner, as to render
them vital operating principles, the food and the solace of our
spirits. Without his agency, however intrinsically excellent, they
will be to us mere dead speculation--an inert mass: it is only when
they are animated by his breath, that they become spirit and life.

"'It is his office to afford that anointing by which we may know
all things; by a light which is not merely directive to the
understanding, but which so shines upon the heart, as to give a
relish of the sweetness of Divine truth, and effectually produce
a compliance with its dictates. It belongs to him 'to seal us to
the day of redemption,' to put that mark and character upon us,
which distinguishes the children of God, as well as to afford a
foretaste, as an earnest of the future inheritance. 'And hereby,'
saith an apostle, 'we know that we are of God, by the Spirit which
he hath given us.' It is his office to subdue the corruption of our
nature, not by leaving us inactive spectators of the combat, but by
engaging us to a determined resistance to every sinful propensity,
by teaching our hands to war, and our fingers to fight, so that the
victory shall be ours, and the praise his. It is his office also to
help the infirmities of saints, who know not what to pray for as
they ought, by making intercession for them 'with groanings which
cannot be uttered.' He kindles their desires, gives them a glimpse
of the fulness of God, that all-comprehending good; and by exciting
a relish of the beauties of holiness, and the ineffable pleasure
which springs from nearness to God, disposes them to the fervent and
effectual prayer which availeth much. In short, as Christ is the
way to the Father; so it is equally certain, that the Spirit is the
fountain of all the light and strength which enable us to walk in
that way.'"

"I assure you, my dear Matilda, both my brother and myself feel
devoutly thankful to the God of all grace, for rescuing us from the
fatal delusion of Unitarianism, which we conscientiously renounce
as an anti-scriptural system, no less derogatory to the honour of
God, than inapplicable to the moral condition of man--a system
which flatters the pride of the heart, but which makes no provision
for the relief of a wounded conscience; and which, by placing the
hope of final blessedness on the attainment of personal virtue,
supersedes the necessity of the Saviour's death and mediation, which
constitute the most prominent and essential parts of the grand
scheme of redemption."

  [19] See a _Treatise on the Work of the Holy Spirit_, by the
  celebrated Robert Hall, of Leicester.

After the lapse of a few months, Mr. and Miss Macfarlane were
admitted as members into the chapel in ---- Street, of which the
Rev. Mr. ---- was pastor. They were received into communion amongst
their Christian brethren, with the utmost degree of cordiality
and affection, and are still living, the faithful witnesses of
the truth as it is in Jesus. They had many virtues adorning their
character when they were called Unitarians, but now they carry
their virtue to a greater height, by deriving their motives for
its practice from the authority of God, rather than the praise of
man. While, therefore, they feel it to be their duty still to add
to their "virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to
temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness,
brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity;" they are
fully conscious of their innumerable defects, and wait in humble
expectation of eternal life, not as a reward for their good deeds,
but as a sovereign and unmerited favour.



THE PATH OF TRUTH FORSAKEN.


If all who make a public profession of religion remained faithful
unto death, we should be led to form such a high opinion of the
steadfastness of the Christian character, that we should never
dread any change of feeling or of principle. But, alas! who has
not seen the most ardent zeal grow cold--the most fervent devotion
degenerate into a lifeless formality--and the most spotless
integrity become corrupted by the maxims of the world? Who has
not seen the most eager stopping short in their course; and some,
who once bade fair to occupy stations of honour and usefulness in
the church, break away, either suddenly or gradually, from all
their religious connections, to mingle again with the workers of
iniquity, and place themselves in the seat of the scorner? What more
melancholy sight than this can be presented to the real Christian?
and how can he sufficiently deplore such a calamity? In plaintive
accents he often says, "O that my head were waters, and mine eyes
a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain
of the daughter of my people!" But there are circumstances which
sometimes render this melancholy occurrence peculiarly affecting.
If the renegade from the faith be a near relative, or an intimate
friend--one with whom we have taken sweet counsel, and walked to the
house of God in company--one who rejoiced over us "when first we
knew the Lord"--who poured the soothing words of consolation into
our minds when we first felt the deep convictions of guilt--who
was our guide and counsellor--and whom we loved with an ardent and
tender affection--how much more intense is the pain of such an
infliction; and how applicable that noble passage of Robert Hall to
such an event:--"Where shall we find tears fit to be wept at such
a spectacle? or, could we realize the calamity in all its extent,
what tokens of our compassion and concern would be deemed equal to
the occasion? Would it suffice for the sun to veil his light, and
the moon her brightness, to cover the ocean with mourning, and the
heavens with sackcloth? Or were the whole fabric of nature to become
animated and vocal, would it be possible for her to utter a groan
too deep, or a cry too piercing, to express the magnitude and extent
of such a catastrophe?"

In the previous chapter I have described the influence of truth
prevailing over long-cherished feelings and deeply-rooted
prejudices, and the substitution of correct evangelical views for
the erroneous tenets of Unitarianism. The history I am now about
to record is of a different description, and presents a melancholy
contrast to the former, exhibiting the abandonment of the faith
after a fair and apparently sincere profession, and teaching us the
necessity of constant labour and watchfulness, if we wish "to make
our calling and election sure."

Henry Beaufoy was the only son of poor but respectable parents, who
resided in the beautiful village of Brookcombe in Devonshire. This
village remained for a long series of years in a state of spiritual
darkness, till it was visited by some of the local preachers of the
Methodist Connexion. At first, when they declared the glad tidings
of salvation amongst the people, they were insulted and reproached;
and the few who received them became a by-word and a proverb
amongst their ignorant and bigoted neighbours. But regardless of
all opposition--bearing patiently every species of reviling--and
demonstrating by their gentleness of spirit, that they knew how to
return good for evil, they ultimately succeeded in subduing the
prejudices of ignorance and the violence of bigotry, and established
a flourishing society.

It happened here, as in many other places where the introduction
of the gospel has been opposed, that some of the chief of the
opponents were the first to feel its renovating power. Among this
number the parents of Henry Beaufoy held a distinguished station.
At first they, in common with many others, entertained strong
prejudices against the preachers, and endeavoured to persuade others
from attending their ministry; but at length their curiosity was
awakened, and they went to the chapel. They listened--the word
came with power--they felt the deepest contrition for their past
sins, especially their sin of opposing and ridiculing the gospel
of Christ; and eventually became no less distinguished for their
attachment, than they had been for their enmity to the faith. Their
son Henry was about twelve years of age, when this moral change
took place in his parents, and though he felt somewhat surprised at
the suddenness of the transition from the most determined hostility
against the Methodists (as they were reproachfully termed), to the
most cordial attachment, yet he was too young and too thoughtless to
examine into the causes of it. He generally accompanied them to the
little chapel, which was erected under the brow of a hill; and as
he was fond of music, and had a fine voice, he assisted in leading
the psalmody of the congregation. No material change, however,
took place in him, till after he had attained his eighteenth year;
when, being on a visit to Plymouth, he went to hear the Rev. Samuel
Bradburn, who was one of the most celebrated and one of the most
useful ministers of his day. The text from which he preached on that
occasion was selected from Heb. iv. 12--"For the word of God is
quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints
and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the
heart." Young Beaufoy was struck with the colloquial simplicity
of his style of address, no less than by the force of his
argumentative reasoning; but when he directed his bold and masterly
appeals to the consciences of his hearers, his heart was deeply
wounded, and, like the Philippian jailor, he could not refrain from
saying, "What shall I do to be saved?" On his return home, the
unusual gravity of his manners, his more frequent attendance at the
village chapel, his habit of reading the Bible, and of retirement
for the purposes of devotion, led his parents to indulge the hope
that their Henry was become a new creature in Christ Jesus, and
after the lapse of a few weeks, they had the satisfaction of hearing
an account of his conversion from his own lips.

If it be possible to excite in the soul of a pious parent a feeling
of joy approximating to the pure unmingled bliss of the heavenly
world, it is when his child comes to him to state the fact, and
detail the manner, of the great spiritual change which has taken
place in his heart. It is then that the prayers of the godly father
are turned into praises--that the deep and tender anxieties of the
virtuous mother begin to cease, as they then can recognize in their
son or daughter, a fellow-heir of the grace of life, with whom they
expect to live for ever and ever.

It was about this period that I first became acquainted with the
Beaufoy family. I had gone to Devonshire for change of air for a few
weeks, and took up my abode in the village of Brookcombe, where I
lodged in the house of the father and mother of young Beaufoy. I was
much pleased both with them and their son, the latter of whom used
frequently to accompany me on my excursions into the surrounding
country. On these occasions we used to have long conversations
together, in which he displayed an intelligence far above what
might have been expected from his position in life, and this,
joined to his amiable temper and pleasing manners, led me to take
a great interest in him. On leaving Brookcombe, I suggested that
he should occasionally write to me--a proposal which he received
with much satisfaction, and we maintained for a number of years a
close correspondence. Shortly after parting with him, however, an
event occurred which materially changed his prospects in life. The
same intelligence and amiable qualities which had won my heart,
recommended him to the notice of a wealthy citizen of London, who
came to visit his patrimonial estate in the neighbourhood, and he
gave him the offer of a lucrative situation in his employment. The
offer was accepted, and he prepared to leave the scenes of his
youth. His pious mother, who dreaded the temptations of London
as much as she would have dreaded the plague, said to him on his
departure, "My Henry, I am sorry you are going to leave us. I
wish you could have remained amongst us, and continued the solace
and comfort of your father and myself. But when you are far away,
exposed to the snares and dangers of the great city, I shall have no
sleep at night, for I shall lie awake to pray for you; and I shall
have no peace by day, for I shall be always trembling for you, my
child."

"Oh! mother," said Henry, whose heart was full of the thought of
parting, and whose fortitude began to fail at the sight of his
mother's tears, "do not weep. God can keep me from the temptations
of the city as well as the temptations of the village; and I have no
doubt but I shall escape them. I'll come and see you once a-year,
and then we will rejoice together."

"But how can I endure the thought of looking on you, my child, only
once in the year, on whom I have gazed these one and twenty years
with so much delight! My eyes will be dim with sorrow before the
first year is up."

"But I will write, mother, once a-month."

"But letters can't speak as I have heard you talk for nearly twenty
years. I wish the gentleman had never come amongst us. He has broken
down the fence of our union, and taken away the first-fruits of our
wedded happiness, and what have we left to make up for our loss? But
I know I must be resigned--yet I have not Abraham's faith. The Lord
bless you, and keep you, and bring you back to your father's house
in peace, that we may bless you before we die."

Henry set off in company with the gentleman who had taken him
under his patronage, and though he felt the pang of separation to
be violent, yet he bore it with firmness, and, turning away his
thoughts from the scene of grief which he had just left, he began to
amuse himself with the varied objects which presented themselves to
him in the course of this his first journey to the metropolis.

On arriving in London, he took lodgings in the City Road, in
the house of Mr. Jordan, whom the reader will remember as the
worthy landlord of Mr. Lewellin.[20] This was shortly after the
return of the latter from the country, on recovering from the
dangerous illness which had produced so important a change in
his moral character. From residing together in the same house, a
close intimacy sprang up between Mr. Lewellin and young Beaufoy,
which was much strengthened by the similarity of their religious
sentiments. Though belonging to different evangelical bodies, they,
nevertheless, zealously co-operated together in the advancement of
all the various schemes instituted by Christian benevolence, for the
promotion of the spiritual and temporal happiness of our fellow-men.
Mr. Beaufoy, who had received his first religious impressions
amongst the Wesleyan Methodists, and imbibed all their peculiar
opinions, very naturally chose to attend their chapel. They received
him with their usual kindness, and for several years he grew in
their esteem and confidence, as a young man of superior intelligence
and decided piety. For a considerable time I both corresponded with
young Beaufoy, and also, on one or two occasions, when in London,
I called on him, and invariably met with the warmest reception. I
frequently held conversations with him on the subject of religion,
and from the deep interest which he seemed to take in the subject,
I believed that he had indeed become a decided Christian. But how
deceitful sometimes are appearances, and how cautious ought we to
be in forming conclusions from mere external circumstances, however
fair the prospect may be which they present!

  [20] Vol. i. page 12.

Henry Beaufoy possessed a mind admirably qualified for business,
and his abilities, in this respect, enabled him to make rapid
progress in the counting-house of his employer, where he soon
filled a lucrative and responsible situation. About five years
after his first arrival in the metropolis, he married a young lady
occupying a good position in society, but who made no decided
profession of religion. She attended the chapel because she had been
accustomed to do so from her earliest childhood, and felt attached
to the people amongst whom her parents lived and died; but she had
no clear perceptions of the nature or design of the gospel, nor
had she ever felt its enlightening or renovating power. She was
handsome, amiable, and intelligent, but she did not possess _the
one thing needful_; and though her habits and associations were of
a religious nature, yet being destitute of its pure and heavenly
spirit, she became a snare to her husband, by drawing off his mind,
by imperceptible degrees, from things that are unseen and eternal,
to those that were visible and temporal.

Mr. Beaufoy's income was, as already mentioned, considerable, which,
together with the fortune he had with his wife, enabled him to live
in a style far above his early expectations; but he had too much
good sense to involve himself in debt, and too much regard for his
parents to allow them to be in difficulties, while he had abundance.
He often used to say, when in his native village, "I covet wealth
that I may enjoy the luxury of doing good;" and when Providence
granted him his desire, he partook of this source of gratification
to a very large extent. His regular remittances to his parents
exceeded their wishes; while his liberality to the poor, and every
religious institution with which he stood connected, raised him high
in the esteem of his Christian brethren. But, alas! his spirituality
did not keep pace with his prosperity; nor did the fervour of his
devotional spirit equal the degree of his diligence in business.

In compliance with custom, he spent the first few weeks after his
marriage amidst scenes of gaiety and pleasure--in receiving and
returning the visits of his friends and associates; and though he
found an apology for this course of life in the example of others,
yet he felt it to be injurious to the religious tone of his mind,
and longed to return to his more settled religious habits. Had Mrs.
Beaufoy possessed a similar spirit, this incursion into the land of
the enemy would not have been productive of any essential injury;
but as she was now treading on her native soil, and moving in an
element congenial to her taste, she succeeded in estranging her
husband from the simplicity of a religious life, and induced him
to adopt the habits of the men of the world. The prayer-meeting,
in which his voice had often been heard, leading the devotion
of others, was now deserted for dinner and evening parties. The
sacredness of religious conversation with those who loved and feared
the Lord, was exchanged for the vain and trifling conversation of
the votaries of fashion; and though on the Sabbath-day he was seen
in his pew, yet the marked seriousness and peaceful serenity of his
countenance was supplanted by the knitted brow, or the listless
and inattentive air. The society of his former religious friends,
including Mr. Lewellin, now became less agreeable to him than that
of some gay worldlings, into whose company he was frequently thrown.
His letters to myself also were shorter and more reserved; but I
was still far from suspecting the dangerous nature of the career on
which he was now entering. Thus while retaining a name and a place
amongst the members of the church, he was rapidly receding from the
purity and fervour of the Christian spirit.

One of the earliest symptoms of apostasy from the pure faith of
Christ, is a fastidiousness of hearing, which few preachers can
please. The truth as it is in Jesus is tolerated on account of the
form or the manner in which it is presented; and the messenger is
admired more than the message which he delivers. Though we would not
condemn a predilection for the more graceful and the more eloquent
appeals of the pulpit, nor insinuate that a correct taste is a
_prima facie_ evidence of a heart in a state of departure from God,
yet it requires no lengthened argument to prove that when the truths
of the gospel are not loved and received for their own sake, and on
account of their beneficial tendency, it is a decisive proof that
the tone of the mind is injured; and that, notwithstanding the
outward appearance of devotion which may be kept up by a professor,
he is not walking in the fear of the Lord, nor in the comfort of
the Holy Ghost. He may have his favourite preachers; but if the
truth which they preach is not esteemed when it is delivered by men
equally zealous, and equally devoted to God, though not equally
gifted, we are supplied with a melancholy symptom of his being in a
backsliding state. It was this spirit of preference for the learning
of Paul--for the eloquence of Apollos--and for the peculiar charms
of Cephas, amongst the members of the church of Corinth, that the
apostle regards as an evidence of their indifference to Christ; and
which he adduces as a proof that a corrupt leaven was then working
amongst them. "For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I
am of Apollos," is it not a convincing proof, that the speaker is
more delighted with the correctness of the language which a preacher
employs, than the purity of the doctrines which he preaches?

Mr. Beaufoy, on his settlement in London, gave a decided preference
to the most evangelical and the most experimental preachers in his
Connexion; but now he began to admire the most fanciful and the
most florid, to whom he listened as an amateur does to a piece of
music--more for the gratification of his taste than the spiritual
improvement of his mind; and as he could not always hear them, he
began to absent himself from the chapel when they were not expected.
His habit of attendance at length became so irregular, that some
of his Christian brethren, who had watched with great anxiety
the progress of his defection, felt it their duty to have him
admonished; and they deputed an aged elder, in whom dwelt the spirit
of wisdom and of grace, to visit him.

The manner in which reproof is received often developes the
real temper and disposition of the mind, and supplies us with
a good criterion to form a correct judgment of character. "Let
the righteous smite me," said the Psalmist, when reviewing the
imperfections of his conduct, "it shall be a kindness; and let him
reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my
head." And it is by the kind admonitions and the gentle reproofs
that we timely receive from those of our friends who watch over
us, that we are often indebted, under the Divine blessing, for our
spiritual prosperity, and to which we may trace our recovery from
that state of religious declension, to which we are so fatally prone.

"Indeed," said Mr. Beaufoy to his venerable friend, in whose company
he had formerly passed many a pleasant hour, "I think I am at
liberty to attend where and when I please, without being subject to
the inquisitorial interference of others. And though you are pleased
to say, that my late conduct has given my best friends reason to
fear that I am not so spiritual as when they first knew me, yet you
will permit me to say that I am the best judge on that subject."

"You certainly," replied the venerable elder, "are at liberty to
go where you please; but I hope you will not go away from Him who
'hath the words of eternal life;' and are at liberty to go when you
please; but do not forget the Divine injunction which commands us
to 'consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works;
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of
some is.'"

"I hope I shall not, Sir; but I must be permitted to consult my own
taste in the choice of the preachers on whose ministry I attend,
without being censured for any decrease in the spirituality of my
mind. If I do not talk quite so much on religious subjects as I
once did, that is no proof that I feel less; as we become reserved
on these high and awful considerations in proportion as we are
impressed by them."

"The Psalmist says," replied the elder, "'While I was musing the
fire burned; then spake I with my tongue.' I know you are displeased
with me, my brother, for the language which I have addressed to you;
and I assure you, that your displeasure gives me greater sorrow than
the cause of my visit, inasmuch as it convinces me that your heart
is not right with God. I have but a few years to live, and perhaps
only a few hours; and as I may not live to repeat a visit which
is as unacceptable to you as it is painful to myself, I cannot
leave you without giving you and Mrs. Beaufoy a message from the
Lord--'Take heed, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief, in
departing from the living God.'"

"I have no doubt, Sir, but your motives are good, and that you deem
the solemn admonition of the apostle necessary; but you will permit
us to form our own judgment on the propriety of its application."

The venerable elder then arose, took his young brother by the hand,
and wept; and after struggling for some moments to subdue the
feelings which were agitating his breast, he said, "My brother, I
fear that you have departed from the Lord, and that his Spirit has
departed from you; but let us kneel together at the throne of grace,
as we used to kneel when the light of his countenance shone upon
you, and pray for its return." He then knelt down, and offered up
a solemn and affecting prayer, which bespoke the fidelity of his
affection for his erring brother. When he arose, he received the
cold thanks of courtesy for his labour of love, and retired under a
strong presentiment that he should see his fellow-member's face no
more. And so it proved; for his feeble frame had received a shock
that evening from which he had not strength to recover. He hastened
home as fast as his tottering limbs would carry him--partook of
his frugal meal--read the twenty-third Psalm, and, in company with
his pious housekeeper (for he had buried his wife about six weeks
before this affliction came upon him), he knelt down, and closed the
toils of the day in the hallowed exercise of communion with God.
One petition he presented which he had never been heard to utter
before--"And if, Lord, it should please thee to call thy servant
this night, I thank thee that I am at last enabled to adopt the
language of Simeon--'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in
peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.'" This petition was
expressed with an energy of voice which indicated the animation of
a mind feeling its near approach to the prize of its high calling
of God in Christ Jesus. He retired to bed at his usual hour, but he
was restless and feverish; and about midnight he rang the bell. His
housekeeper entered his room, and on drawing aside the curtain of
his bed, heard him say,

  "O! the pain, the bliss of dying."

He requested her to fetch his pious medical friend, who speedily
arrived, but it was only to confirm his old servant's worst fears.
The dying elder now related to the doctor, as a member of the same
church with himself, the particulars of his visit to Mr. Beaufoy. "I
know," he said, "I am dying, and that in a very few hours I shall
see the King in his beauty; but death hath lost its sting, and I
have lost my fears. I have long waited for my salvation, and now it
is come. I die in full and certain hope of a joyful resurrection
to eternal life. Give my dying love to my dear wandering brother,
and tell him that the language of the prophet is so impressed on my
mind, that I cannot leave the body without expressing a desire that
he will meditate on it. 'Thine own wickedness shall correct thee,
and thy backsliding shall reprove thee; know, therefore, and see,
that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord
thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of
hosts.'" He now gently waved his hand as he repeated the triumphant
language of the apostle:--"O death, where is thy sting? O grave,
where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength
of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ;" and reclining on the bosom of his
friend, he had one strong convulsive struggle, and then expired with
a smile settled on his venerable countenance.

The sudden death of this devout elder, who had been for more than
fifty years an ornament to his Christian profession, produced a
powerful sensation through the whole Society; and many attended his
funeral as an expression of the esteem and veneration in which they
held his character. Deep and heartfelt was the sorrow expressed on
the countenance of the assembled throng on that occasion, and every
one seemed to mourn as though he had lost a father or a brother.
On the following Sabbath, his funeral sermon was preached in the
chapel by the Rev. Mr. R----, from the words, "The hoary head is
a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness"
(Prov. xvi. 31). After a correct delineation of the character of
the deceased, he described the closing scene of his life. "He
was," said the preacher, "not only a good, but a devout man, and
pre-eminently endowed by the God of all grace, with a double portion
of the spirit of wisdom and understanding. Tremblingly alive for
the honour of his Master's cause, he would often weep when it was
endangered by the inconsistent conduct of its professed friends;
and it was to an extraordinary excitement occasioned by a visit of
mercy to a fellow-member, that we may ascribe his sudden decease.
His tender and sympathetic spirit yearning over the object of its
solicitude, was thrown into an agitation from which his feeble frame
never recovered. Having finished the work assigned him, he sunk
beneath the weight of his own grief, but not till he had assured
his mourning friends that he died in full and certain hope of a
joyful resurrection to eternal life. Be ye followers of him, who
through faith and patience is now inheriting the promises; and be
on your guard, lest, in departing from the living God, you should
bring down the gray hairs of some venerable elder with sorrow to
his grave, whose love may impel him to manifest a care for your
soul." Mr. Beaufoy heard this discourse, but it was evident by his
restlessness, and the indignant look which he cast towards the
preacher, that his pride was mortified, by the allusions which were
made to him.

Fidelity on the part of a minister is essential, not only to his
happiness, but his usefulness; yet when he permits his feelings to
overpower the dictates of prudence, he is in danger of frustrating
the design he wishes to accomplish. He should declare the word of
life without fear; but in administering reproof, he should never be
so personal in his remarks or allusions, as to turn the eyes of an
audience on the individual who may deserve it. By the adoption of
such a course no one would feel secure from attack, when he comes to
hear the message of grace; nor is it likely that the offender will
be reclaimed from the error of his way, when he finds himself made
a spectacle of reproach in the presence of his brethren. Instead of
relenting, he will be hardened; and may be induced to abandon the
place which the angel of mercy visits with his healing power, rather
than remain to receive instruction and reproof. A minister should
always combine the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of
the dove; and while he desires to be faithful in the pulpit, he
should be solicitous to guard against all appearance of personality.

When the power of vital religion is declining in its influence over
the mind of a professor, and he begins to cherish feelings and adopt
habits which are opposed to the purity of his avowed principles,
he will not be able to endure the close appeals of the pulpit.
Prudence will often keep him from making any complaints against the
general fidelity of the ministry, even while his heart is writhing
under it; and his habits of intimacy with his Christian brethren
will sometimes prevent him from leaving a society with which he
has formed a close and a sacred union; but when the principle of
apostasy has gained ascendency over his conscience, and he begins to
treat the friendly remonstrances and admonitions with contempt, he
will soon discover some justifiable cause of offence, and retire in
disgust, if not in wrath.

Thus it was with Mr. Beaufoy. Stung to the quick by the allusions
which the preacher made to the visit of the venerable elder, and
the supposed cause of his sudden death, he left the chapel in the
greatest indignation; and the following morning, he sent his arrears
of subscription to the managers, requesting, at the same time, that
they would consider him as no longer a member of their church.

On being informed of her husband's abandoning his connection with
the Wesleyans, Mrs. Beaufoy was rather pleased than disappointed,
as she hoped she would now have greater scope for sharing in the
amusements of the gay world. Both thought it right, however, still
to attend some place of worship, and thus keep up the appearance
of respect for the public services of religion. Where to go, was
a question which they could not easily determine; but as some of
their friends, whose acquaintance they had lately made, attended a
Socinian meeting in E---- Street, they resolved to go there on the
following Sabbath. This sudden transition, from the fervid devotion
of Methodism, to the frigid apathy of Socinianism, produced no
unpleasant impressions on the mind of his wife, but Mr. Beaufoy was
not quite prepared for it. His heart was become hardened through
the deceitfulness of sin, yet he still believed in the essential
doctrines of Christianity, which retained their dominion over him,
though they had lost their original power of impression. They
were both struck with the gracefulness of the preacher's manner,
and admired his elocution; but Mr. Beaufoy could not renounce
the divinity, or the atonement of Christ, nor could he regard
the doctrine of regeneration as a corruption of the gospel. Mrs.
Beaufoy thought that every modification of Christianity was equally
acceptable to God, but Mr. Beaufoy was capable of distinguishing
truth from error; and while she adopted for her creed the poet's
stanza,

    "For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
     His can't be wrong, whose life is in the right,"

he was convinced that no man ought to be considered a Christian, who
rejected the leading doctrines of revelation.

At length, when expressing his abhorrence of some of the daring
charges which he heard advanced against the orthodox faith, and
which he considered as tending to universal scepticism, she replied,
"Well, my dear, you can very easily retain your own opinions, and
yet attend on Mr. B----'s ministry, because he cannot force you
to believe against the dictates of your own judgment, and if you
sometimes hear them controverted, that circumstance ought not to
disquiet you. As your belief is founded on evidence, and matured by
deep reflection, you are in no danger of being carried about with
every wind of doctrine, but may fairly calculate on your ability
to hold it fast, amidst all the efforts which may be employed
to destroy or disturb it." "Very true," he replied, "I like the
morals of Socinianism better than the doctrines. Well it shall be
so;"--and so it was. They took their pew, and occupied it; and as
the only restraint which had kept them for a long time from a more
extended course of gaiety was now removed, they began to walk more
openly in the ways of their own heart, and in the sight of their
own eyes. Hitherto they had kept up some semblance of religion,
but now they began to conform to the customs of the world, and to
avail themselves of the various sources of gratification which its
pleasures and amusements afford. Family-prayer, the last vestige of
their former habits of devotion, was now entirely neglected. The
Bible, which they once revered as their guide to everlasting life,
was thrown aside; and though Mr. Beaufoy could not forget that he
had been a religious man, yet he wished others to believe that now
he was a more happy one.

It has been very justly observed, that when we begin to think
lightly of error we are in great danger of being corrupted by it;
and the experience of all ages proves, that if a professor hold
the truth in unrighteousness, he is ultimately given up to believe
a lie. That there have been many departures from evangelical
principles in modern times no one will presume to deny; but if they
were closely examined, it would be found that they were preceded
by a neglect of private prayer, watchfulness, self-diffidence, and
walking humbly with God; and every one may perceive that they are
followed with similar effects. It has been acknowledged by some
who have embraced the Socinian system, that since they entertained
those views they have lost even the gift of prayer. Perhaps they
might draw up and read an _address to the Deity_; but they could
not pray. Where the principles of the gospel are abandoned, the
spirit of prayer and all communion with God will likewise depart.
The confession of Peter, that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God,
is thought to be that which our Lord denominates the rock on which
he would build his church. We are sure that the belief of this
article of faith was required as a test of Christianity; and who
can look into the Christian world with attention, and not perceive
that it still continues the key-stone of the building? If this
give way, the fabric falls. Relapses of this nature are infinitely
dangerous. He that declines in holy practice has to labour against
the remonstrances of conscience; but he that brings himself to think
lightly of sin, and meanly of the Saviour (which is what every
false system of religion teaches), has gone far towards silencing
the accusations of this unpleasant monitor. He is upon good terms
with himself. The disorder of his soul is deep, but it is of a
flattering nature. The declension of serious religion in him is no
less apparent to others than the physical decay of the body in a
consumption, where in each case the party himself frequently has no
suspicion of his danger.

As Mr. Beaufoy had no family, the love of accumulation had less
dominion over his mind than the passion for display, which had taken
an earlier possession of his mind than he himself was aware of, and
to its fatal tendency may be attributed, in a great measure, all the
evils and misery of his subsequent life.

On this subject we may here quote the words of a judicious
writer:--"We need not affect singularity in things indifferent,
but to maintain a constant endeavour to follow in the train of
fashion, is not only an indication of a vain and little mind, but is
certainly inconsistent with pressing towards the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The desire of making an
appearance has ruined many people in their circumstances--more in
their characters--and most of all in their souls. We may flatter
ourselves that we can pursue these things, and be religious at
the same time; but it is a mistake. The vanity of mind which they
cherish destroys everything of a humble, serious, and holy nature,
rendering us an easy prey to the temptations which are thrown in
our way. A Christian's rule is the revealed will of God; and where
the customs of the world run counter to this, it is his business to
withstand them, even though in so doing he may have to withstand
a multitude--yea, and a multitude of people of fashion; but if we
feel ambitious of their applause, we shall not be able to endure
the scorn which a singularity of conduct will draw upon us. Thus
we shall be carried down the stream of this world; and shall either
fall into the gulf of perdition, or if any good thing should be
found in us towards the Lord God of Israel, it will be indiscernible
and useless."

Mr. Beaufoy's amiable disposition, and admirable conversational
powers, made his society courted by an extensive circle of
acquaintances. Balls, parties, and theatres now consumed the hours
of the evenings which were once devoted to reading, meditation,
and prayer; and not unfrequently the sanctity of the Sabbath was
violated by excursions to the country. It was just after they had
made an engagement to take an excursion on the Thames on the ensuing
Sabbath, that Mr. Beaufoy received a letter from his aged mother,
whom he held in the highest veneration, and from whom he wished to
conceal the fact of his apostasy. It breathed a spirit of gentle
reproach and remonstrance, and opened to his view her agony of mind,
occasioned by the intelligence of the defection of her beloved son
from the paths of righteousness:--

     "BROOKCOMBE, _12th July, 18--_.

     "MY DEAR HENRY,--You know I always dreaded your going to London,
     and now, if what I hear be true, I have cause for my fears. A
     friend called on us the other day, and told us that you had
     left our Society and become a Socinian. I don't know much about
     Socinians, but I understand they say that Jesus Christ is
     nothing more than a man, and that we must not expect 'redemption
     through his blood, or the forgiveness of sins through the riches
     of his grace,' but from our own good works. And have you, my
     Henry, forsaken that Saviour whom, unseen, you loved when you
     lived at home with us? and have you made a shipwreck of that
     precious faith which once filled you with so much joy and peace
     in believing? and have you departed from the ways of the Lord
     for the pleasures of sin, which are only for a season? We have
     had no rest since we received these awful tidings, and the
     spirit of your poor dear father is so broken with sorrow, that
     he has not had a smile upon his countenance since. And can
     you, my dear Henry, leave the Saviour who once had compassion
     on you, and did such great things for you, as you so often told
     us of? If you leave him now, how will you be able to stand
     before him, when he comes with 'ten thousand of his saints, to
     execute judgment upon all; and to convince all that are ungodly
     among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly
     committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners
     have spoken against him?' O let me entreat you to return to the
     Lord with weeping and supplication, and he will yet have mercy
     upon you, and heal all your backslidings; he will accept you
     graciously, and love you freely. I cannot give you up, no, I
     cannot! You are my child, and I cannot endure the thought of
     living separated from you in another world. Let me hear from
     you directly, and tell me if you are as happy, and as holy, and
     as spiritually-minded now, as when you first believed in the
     Lord Jesus Christ. Your father joins me in love to you and dear
     Sophia, and in beseeching both of you to consider the error of
     your ways ere it be too late. --Your affectionate mother,

     AMELIA BEAUFOY."

This letter shook the unhallowed purpose of his soul, and neither
he nor his wife could venture on their excursion up the river. It
brought over their imagination the scenes of departed bliss--revived
recollections which were sacred and subduing--and plunged Mr.
Beaufoy into deep mental agony. Mrs. Beaufoy, however, was of a more
heedless turn of mind, and endeavoured to assuage her husband's
grief by saying, "You know you still believe the gospel;" but she
had no power over the anguish which was consuming his happiness.
"Yes," said he, "I do believe it, or this letter would not disquiet
me. I have departed from the Lord, and I am gone past recovery.
Mine is no common apostasy. My doom is fixed. My end will be awful.
Where, ah! where can I go when he cometh 'to execute judgment upon
all?' Yes, I do believe the gospel. I feel I do. I believe it, and
tremble. Its terrors are upon me. The piercing language of the
prophet has been following me ever since the death of that holy
man, whose warning voice I despised, and now they enter as fire
into my bones: 'Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy
backslidings shall reprove thee: know, therefore, and see, that it
is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy
God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.'"

The Lord employs various means to recover his people from a
backsliding state; and though for a season he compels them to feel
the evil and the bitterness of their sin, yet he finally restores
unto them the joy of his salvation. When, however, an apostate has
been given up to the hardness of his heart, neither the language of
mercy, nor the terrors of judgment will produce any other effect
than that of accelerating the dreadful catastrophe. He goes on from
bad to worse, till at length he comes to the fearful end of his
career. Thus it was with Mr. Beaufoy. The extreme agony into which
he was thrown by the simple appeals of his mother's letter gradually
abated; but he felt it necessary to adopt some new and extraordinary
expedients, to gain some small degree of tranquillity. His
attachment to his wife was strong, and it had gained such ascendency
over him that he refused to leave his home except she accompanied
him; but now a melancholy gloom was cast over all his pleasant
things, and those from which he had extracted the sweetest comforts
of life became as bitter as wormwood to his taste. Though he
forbore, at this early stage of his mental anguish, to reproach her
as the cause of his apostasy, yet he secretly laid the sin to her
charge, and began occasionally to feel that her society aggravated
the evil, which her kindness prompted her to attempt to alleviate.
He became reserved, refused to attend any place of worship, and
often stayed from home to a very late hour. At first Mrs. Beaufoy
hoped that another sudden change would take place, and bring back
the domestic happiness of former times; but at length she was
awakened to a full discovery of the extent of the misery by which
she was surrounded. Her husband was no more the interesting and
affectionate companion of her retired hours--no more the attentive
and fond lover. He became now a thoroughly dissipated character,
rarely returned home till long after his wife's eyes had become
heavy by watching for him; and when he did, it was only to exhibit
his own disgrace, and torture her feelings. She would sometimes
venture to remonstrate with him, and hang over him with all the
affection of former days, when he would relent, and pledge himself
to change his course; but he had lost the power of self-control,
and felt compelled to seek for ease from the anguish of his spirit
amidst scenes of convivial mirth and folly.

The whirl of dissipation and the riot of intemperance are expedients
to which many resort when trouble comes upon them; but they increase
the evils sought to be removed; for though a temporary exhilaration
of the spirits may be produced, and the fearful forebodings of
future woe driven away for a short season, it is only to make them
return with redoubled force to inflict keener anguish. A voice is
sometimes heard speaking from the celestial glory, saying, "Call
upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee;" but that voice
cannot be heard amidst the revelling and excitement of a theatre or
tavern. It speaks to the penitent sinner when he is alone--bowed
down beneath his burden and despairing of help. Retire then, thou
poor backslider, from the haunts of evil--and yet hope for mercy.
Thy guilt is great, thy wound is deep, but there is virtue in the
balm of Gilead when applied by the great Physician. Go, then, into
thy closet, shut the door, confess thy sins, shed the penitential
tear, and implore forgiveness. Here others have acknowledged their
iniquities, and here they have obtained consolation. Your case
may be desperate, but it is not hopeless; and though you may be
tempted to despair, yet resist those whisperings of Satan, which, if
listened to, would seal your final doom.

[Illustration: JAMES GODWIN

W. L. THOMAS.

MR. BEAUFOY'S EMOTION ON RECEIVING HIS MOTHER'S LETTER.

Vol. ii. p. 261.]



THE FRUITS OF APOSTASY.


As many months had now elapsed since either Mr. or Mrs. Beaufoy
had been to any place of worship, the latter availed herself of
an opportunity which occurred to allude to it, when her husband
replied, "I wish you to go, Sophia, for it is enough that one of us
perish." Dreading the return of his paroxysm of agony, she diverted
his attention from the subject, and endeavoured to soothe and cheer
his spirits. She so far succeeded as to bring over his countenance
the pleasant smile of former times, but little did she imagine
that this pleasing sign was so soon to be obliterated. The servant
entered the parlour with a letter, which she gave to her master. He
placed it on the table and sat musing for some minutes. He wept,
though unconscious of the tear that involuntarily trickled down his
cheek, and sighed, as if unconscious that any ear was listening. He
again took the letter--pressed it to his lips, and wept, and sighed
again, as though he thought himself alone. "Yes, my mother, I know
thy hand, and if thou knewest the agony of my heart, thou wouldst
pity me." He opened it; but he had not read many words before he
started from his seat, as if wounded by an invisible hand, then,
with firmly pressed lips, perused the letter, threw it on the floor,
and was retiring abruptly from the room, when he recognized his
wife. "What's the matter, Henry?" she exclaimed, as she attempted to
follow him. "Read that," he sternly replied, pointing to the letter,
and, suddenly, walking to the door, left the house. Mrs. Beaufoy,
with trembling hand, picked up the letter and read as follows:--

     "MY DEAR HENRY,--Your father is no more: he died last night,
     just as the clock was striking eleven. He ne'er smiled on us
     after he heard that you had forsaken the Lord, and he went to
     the grave mourning. He said just before he died, 'Tell my dear
     boy, for he is still my son, that my last tear was shed on
     his account.' When I wiped off the big tear that was rolling
     down his cheek, he became composed for a few minutes, and then
     prayed, 'O Lord God, heal the backslidings of thine Ephraim,'
     and died before he could finish the supplication.

     "And now, my son, you have broken your father's heart, I grieve
     to say it, and, I believe, will bring down my gray hairs with
     sorrow to the grave. O! consider your dreadful state, and how
     fearful to think of, should you be suddenly cut off in it!
     Remember your dear father's last words.

     "I feel quite unable to write you a longer letter to-day. If you
     can come down to the funeral, I need not say how glad I should
     be to see you; if not, may the Lord reclaim and bless you.

     "I know you love Sophia, and I wish you to love her; for she has
     been a kind wife to you, and a most attentive daughter to your
     father and myself, but I fear she has been a snare to you. If
     she had feared the Lord she would have kept you from evil. May
     the Lord bless and reclaim you both.--Your bereaved mother,

     "AMELIA BEAUFOY."

On reading this communication, Mrs. Beaufoy's conscience smote
her, and she wept long and bitterly. Then perusing it anew, she
exclaimed, "Cruel charge! A snare to my husband! the cause of his
being led astray! cruel charge! Is it not enough for me to bear his
unkindness, without having to endure such reproaches?" She threw
the letter from her, and rose, endeavouring to cast off the load
of sorrow which oppressed her spirit. "I cannot endure it. I am of
all women the most miserable. I have no one to share my grief. Oh
death!--no!--I am not prepared to die." She resumed her seat, and
though the letter possessed a sting sharper than that of a scorpion,
she took it, read it again, and again it wounded her. "If she had
feared the Lord she would have kept you from evil." "Cruel charge! I
have tried to keep him, but could not." She paused, then could only
ejaculate, "Woe is me!"

The ringing of the bell announced the return of Mr. Beaufoy; but
his dark, lowering look bespoke the inward conflict. On taking his
seat his eye caught sight of the letter near the place where he had
thrown it down a few hours before. Moving back, as if from an adder,
he said, "Have you been reading it?"

"Yes, Henry, I have."

"And what do you think of the charges?"

"They are cruel."

"Rather say, they are just, though severe."

"You know that I have often attempted to reclaim you."

"But did you not first lead me astray? Till I knew you I was a
happy, because a religious man; but from that ill-fated hour when,
enticed by your influence and example to abandon the house of prayer
for the theatre and ball-room, I have had no mental peace. I have
forsaken God, and he, in anger, has forsaken me."

"But why recriminate on me the guilt of your own sin? You have
withdrawn from me your love and your society, and will you now in
exchange give me your reproaches? If we have sinned together, and
provoked the Lord to anger, let us now kneel together before his
mercy-seat, and together confess our sins, and implore forgiveness."

"You may pray and obtain mercy, but I cannot; no, I cannot."

"The Lord waits to be gracious."

"Yes, to the penitent, but my heart is too hard to feel penitential
sorrow."

"But is not the Redeemer exalted to give repentance?"

"To _you_ he will give it, but not to _me_. I have fallen away,
and incensed justice renders it impossible to renew me again to
repentance, for I have crucified the Son of God afresh, and put him
to an open shame."

"But justice relents when a sinner prays, and mercy"--

"Oh! speak not of mercy."

"But mercy rejoiceth over judgment."

"Yes, but when mercy is rejected, as in my case, justice avenges
the insult in a terrible form. Let us change the theme, Sophia. I am
too full of agony to dwell on it. It awakens recollections that I
wish to banish for ever. It is like handling the deadly weapon which
is to extinguish life."

"The blood of Christ, dear Henry, cleanseth from all sin."

"But I have counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was
sanctified an unholy thing."

"But, Henry, is He not still able to save to the uttermost all that
come unto God by him; and have you sinned beyond his recovering
grace?"

"I know my doom," he curtly replied.

It is not always in our power to ascertain the precise moment when
the Divine Spirit begins the good work of grace in the heart,
nor yet to say what specific means he employs to effect it, but
sometimes an unpremeditated effort to convey instruction, or
warning, or consolation to another, is made to re-act on the speaker
to produce the great change. Thus it was in the experience of Mrs.
Beaufoy. She felt the force of her own remarks, and when reflecting
on them, at a subsequent period, she could not but yield to their
influence. The charge brought against her, of having led her husband
astray, she _now_ admitted to be just. But what an admission! to
be not merely accessory to his apostasy, but the primary cause
of it--not merely a partaker of his guilt, but the means of its
contraction and its accumulation. Her sin, which had been concealed
from her, _now_ started up in all its aggravated form and appalling
aspect. "Yes, 'tis true; if I had feared the Lord, I might have
kept him from going astray, and we might have been walking in his
commandments and ordinances blameless. I enticed him from the paths
of righteousness, and into what an abyss of misery are we both
plunged! I remember the night when I first induced him to leave the
house of prayer to accompany me to the theatre, and I remember the
anguish of his spirit after our return. I then told him that he
would not injure his principles by yielding sometimes to the customs
of the world, but alas, I was deceived! I alone am to blame, and
if I could suffer alone, I would patiently endure the terrible
inflictions of justice I have merited. But alas! I have raised the
storm which has long since laid waste all our domestic felicity, and
which is now threatening a deluge of wrath! Where, O where, can we
take refuge from the impending evil!"

As she was thus bemoaning her unhappy state, she thought of her
long-neglected Bible, and taking it from the book-case, she pressed
it to her lips and prayed for grace to understand and feel its
instructive and consolatory truths. On turning over its pages, her
eye caught the following passage, which in a few moments mitigated
in a slight degree the agitation of her mind--"And a man shall be
as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as
rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a
weary land." But as there are

  "No wounds like those a wounded spirit feels,"

so there is

  "No cure for such, till God, who makes them, heals;"

and though her distressed spirit was lifted up above the
overwhelming flood, yet it was still enveloped by the gloom of
desponding fears. She attempted to pray, but her heart was too
tightly bound by mental anguish to give vent to her grief. Hitherto
she had borne her sorrows with an unbending spirit, and usually wore
a placid aspect when in the company of her husband or her other
friends; but now her countenance was changed, and it was evident her
soul was in trouble.

"You appear unhappy," said her husband, one day, on finding her in
tears; "is it on my account or your own?"

"I am unhappy on your account, Henry, and I am unhappy on my own;
and I know not where to go for relief. I feel the justice of our
dear mother's charge, though I deemed it cruel at the time. I have
indeed led you astray, and am the guilty cause of all the misery
into which we are both plunged. If I could suffer alone, it would be
an alleviation of my anguish, but I cannot. O, Henry, return with
me to the Lord, from whom we have departed, and as we have sinned
together, and now suffer together, let us enter his presence, and
confess our guilt; and then his anger will be turned away, and he
will comfort us."

"_You_ may obtain mercy, Sophia, but _I_ cannot; yours have been
the sins of ignorance, but mine have been committed against the
clearest light and the deepest conviction of their aggravated guilt.
You may plead the promises of the Bible, as a sinner under the
first convictions of sin; but I bear upon me the reproach of having
forsaken the God of my mercies; and while there are no obstructions
in the way of your access to the throne of grace, that throne is
guarded by a flaming sword which turneth every way to keep me off
from touching the sceptre of mercy. I know my doom, and I deserve
it."

He continued in this frame of mind for many months; and though he
abandoned the society of his former companions, and the haunts of
evil which he had been accustomed to frequent, yet no arguments,
however weighty, or entreaties, however urgent, could induce him
to revisit a place of worship, or resume his practice of family
devotion. At length an insidious disease, which had long been
undermining his constitution, began to manifest itself, and it was
evident that his course in this world was fast coming to an end.
He was urged to try change of air; and with this view he proceeded
with his wife to the pleasant village of Parkdale, from which I
was somewhat surprised, shortly after my return from Fairmount, to
receive a letter written by Mrs. Beaufoy, earnestly beseeching me to
come and see her husband, as she feared he had not long to live, and
had expressed a wish to see me. My intercourse with Mr. Beaufoy had
been completely suspended for some years past. As already mentioned,
his letters first became shorter and more reserved, and at length
ceased altogether. On one occasion that I called on him in London,
his manner was so dry, and expressed so little cordiality, that I
felt convinced my visit was disagreeable, and, consequently, never
repeated it. On hearing, however, of his lamentable defection from
the path of truth, I deemed it my duty to address two or three
letters to him on the subject; but to none of these did I receive
any answer. When at Fairmount, Mr. Lewellin informed me that he
had seen nothing of Mr. Beaufoy for a long time, as latterly he
had become quite estranged from his early friends, and established
himself in the midst of gay and irreligious society. On receiving
the above communication, I at once resolved to proceed to Parkdale,
about forty miles distant, in the earnest hope that I might be of
some benefit to Mr. Beaufoy, whom, notwithstanding all the past
coolness between us, I still continued to regard with considerable
interest. On my arrival, I found that I had been anxiously expected
by his wife, who appeared to be much relieved at seeing me, and
after a short conversation, led me to her husband's room. He
received me with strong expressions of affection, and regret for
his past rudeness and neglect. "O! Mr. ----," he exclaimed, "this
is indeed kindness to come and see a poor dying wretch, whose
conduct has been so deserving of censure. I have been a wicked man,
an undutiful son, and a renegade from the faith; and now I feel a
dagger thrust through my heart, which can never be removed."

"Dear Sir," I replied, "there is one Physician who can remove it,
and one specific that can heal the wound."

"I know it. I do not doubt his power, as that would be an insult
to his omnipotence; but I cannot believe in his willingness. No, I
cannot!"

"But which is the greatest insult, to doubt his ability to save to
the uttermost, or his willingness? Has he not said, 'Him that cometh
unto me I will in no wise cast out?'"

"But, Sir, the passage which you have now quoted, is addressed to
sinners under the first convictions of sin, and not to apostates who
have fallen from their former steadfastness. My doom is fixed, and
you have only to read the words of the prophet to know its nature.
'Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt
not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my
fury to rest upon thee.'"

"But why, my friend, should you appropriate that awful passage to
your condemnation, when you live under a dispensation of grace,
which has made provision for the salvation of the chief of sinners?"

"I do it, Sir, because I know and feel that it is a debt of justice
which I owe to the insulted grace of Heaven. That passage is the
only one in the Bible on which I can dwell with any degree of ease."

"But can you derive any mental ease from reflecting on a passage
which denounces indignation and wrath?"

"Yes, Sir, because then I sink to the level of my condition, and
silently approve the equity of the sentence; but when a promise
of mercy recurs to my mind, its involuntary stirrings to embrace
it throw me into a more agonized state of feeling. But I do not
complain. I deserve all I suffer, and all I have to suffer, and I
will submissively bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have
sinned against him."

"May you not hope, that this spirit of submission to the righteous
manifestations of the Divine displeasure, is a proof that you are
not totally abandoned by him; for if that were the case, you would
feel disposed, either to impeach the goodness, or murmur against the
justice of God?"

"No, Sir, I am not abandoned by him! If I were, I should enjoy the
fatal ease of _unfelt_ guilt. I am held in bondage, I am alive
to the peril of my state, and am compelled by the irresistible
convictions of my conscience to admit the equity of my condemnation,
but I dare not hope for any symptoms of returning mercy. Returning
mercy! No, mercy is clean gone for ever."

"Nay, my friend, the mercy of the Lord endureth for ever; he
delights in it, and I have no doubt but the Sun of Righteousness
will break in upon the midnight darkness of your soul, and cheer you
with the returning light and bliss of hope."

"O! speak not to me of mercy or of hope! You do but agonize me with
fresh tortures."

"But will you not admit that God _can_ turn away his anger from you,
and comfort you?"

"I admit, Sir, that all things are possible with God, which are in
accordance with his purity and his justice; but I do not think that
he can renew me again unto repentance, because I have crucified to
myself the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. I wish,
therefore, you would allow me to remain undisturbed by any allusions
to mercy, as such allusions bring to my recollection joys that are
past, never to be recalled, and plunge me deeper and deeper in the
abyss of mental agony. O that I had passed from the nuptial altar
to a premature grave! then I should have been resting in peace; but
I will not reproach. May my sad doom operate as a warning to others
against a departure from God."

I was much distressed at this scene, but still did not abandon
hope; and, therefore, at the urgent solicitation of Mrs. Beaufoy,
consented to remain with them for a few days. His disorder continued
to increase, and on the morning after my arrival, he consented that
his mother should be sent for--a proposal which he had hitherto
always rejected, as his attachment to her, which was sincere,
made him averse to occasioning her any alarm. On receiving the
intelligence of his illness, which had hitherto been concealed from
her, she hastened to Parkdale. Her son, on hearing of her arrival,
said to his wife, "Conceal from my dear mother the state of my mind;
she cannot help me, and if she knows that I die in despair, she will
never taste another drop of comfort in this vale of tears." As she
entered the room, he raised himself on his bed and embraced her, and
they wept in silence together for some minutes.

"And why, my son," she remonstrated, "did you not let me know of
your illness before now? I would have come and nursed you as I used
to do long ago."

"I hoped that I should recover, mother, and I was unwilling to alarm
you."

"Well, my son, I hope the Lord is dealing graciously with your soul
now you are in the dark valley?"

"He is dealing righteously."

"Yes, my child, he always deals righteously; but is he dealing
graciously?" A long pause ensued.

"But why are you silent, my son? Tell your mother how the Lord is
dealing with you."

"He is dealing righteously with me, and it is our duty to bow in
submission to His will."

"I am happy to hear that you are resigned to His will; that is
a proof that He is dealing graciously. May the Lord continue to
bless you, my dear child, and may He lift upon you the light of his
countenance and give you peace."

On resuming her inquiries next day, she asked him, "Have you a good
hope through grace, of being presented faultless before the presence
of the Lord with exceeding joy?"

"To throw off the veil of concealment which I wished to rest over
the state of my mind, I confess, my dear mother, that I have no
hope."

"No hope, my child! Not one cheerful beam of hope! Is the Lord's arm
shortened, that he cannot save? or is his ear heavy, that he cannot
hear?"

"No; he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and it is his
immutability that plunges me into despair."

"How so, my dear son?"

"He is immutable in his threatenings against those who depart from
him."

"And is He not immutable in his promises of mercy to those who
_wish_ to return?"

"But there are no promises of mercy that suit my case."

"No promises! Why, don't you recollect what our blessed Lord said,
'Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out?' And don't you
recollect what Paul says, 'Wherefore he is able also to save to the
uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to
make intercession for them?'"

"Oh, mother, I have gone away from Him who hath the words of eternal
life."

"Then come back; He will not cast you out. Does the shepherd refuse
to take back the lamb into his fold, which has happened to stray
from him?"

"But I have no strength to return."

"But you can pray; and as the shepherd goes to look after the
strayed lamb, when he hears his bleating, so our blessed Lord will
have compassion on you who may be out of the way, and will not
suffer you to perish, if you wish to return to him. Don't despair
of mercy, my son, while our blessed Lord lives to intercede for the
chief of sinners."

These tender appeals coming from the lips of his mother, reduced his
spirit to a more composed state, and for the first time he wept.
When she saw his tears, she wept with him, and said, "I am glad to
see you weep; it is the first sign of returning mercy."

"Mercy! no!" he replied; "mercy, I fear, will return no more! I have
despised and insulted mercy, and am consigned over to the offended
justice of Heaven. It must be a miracle of mercy to recover me from
the ruin I have brought upon myself."

"Very true, my child; and mercy often performs a miracle of grace;
and if you look by faith to Christ, he will recover you, and he will
put a new song into your mouth, 'even praise unto our God: many
shall see it and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.'"

On the evening of the day following his mother's arrival, as we were
all standing round his bedside, she asked him if he yet felt more
composed, or if he could indulge a good hope of future happiness.

"Composed, mother! No, I am in perfect anguish, and expect to be
lost."

"But he who raiseth the whirlwind, and directeth the storm, is the
God of salvation; and though he allow all his waves and his billows
to go over you, yet he will command his loving-kindness in the
daytime; and when the thickest darkness of the night comes upon you,
then his song shall be with you, and your prayer shall be unto the
God of your life."

"O mother, I am about to leave you, and you, my wife; and I leave
you with a full conviction that we shall never meet again. A few
hours will decide the long-agitated question--

  'Am I his, or am I not?'

I wish you would retire and leave me, nor suffer any one to disturb
me, as I wish to be alone for a little. I shall ring the bell when I
am prepared to see you again."

We withdrew to an adjoining room, when his mother said to his
afflicted wife, "This is a solemn moment. You are about to lose a
husband, and I a son; but if it should please the Lord to visit him
with the light of his reconciled countenance, I trust we should then
be enabled to bow down in submission to his sovereign will." I then,
at their request, knelt down and prayed, as Elijah prayed when he
besought the Lord to send forth the rain of heaven to refresh the
parched lands of Israel. When I had finished, old Mrs. Beaufoy said,
"Let us go and see if there be yet any signs of returning mercy."
"But," said her daughter-in-law, "perhaps he is now wrestling with
the Lord, and if we go we may disturb him and ruffle his spirits."
Such, however, was the yearning of his mother's heart, that she
could not refrain from going to listen, if, peradventure, she might
hear something to comfort her. She heard him repeat again and again,
"Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me! Lord, save, or I perish!"

Just as she was returning to inform us that the silence of
despondency was broken by the voice of prayer, the bell rang, and
we entered the room together. "Well, my child," said his mother, "I
hope the Lord is now dealing graciously with you." "He is dealing
righteously; and against the equity of his conduct I can raise no
objection. He is just when he takes vengeance."

After a long pause, during which time the terror of unabated agony
was depicted in every countenance, he raised his down-cast eyes
towards heaven, and, with a feeble voice modulated to the subduing
tenderness of the expression, he said--

    "Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord,
     Whose hope, still hovering round thy word,
     Would light on some sweet promise there,
     Some sure support against despair."

He now became exhausted, and reclining his head on the pillow, fell
asleep, and slept several hours. When he awoke, he was composed and
calm, and said, "My sleep has been refreshing to me."

"I hope," said his mother, "that your soul is refreshed, as well as
your body."

"I am more composed than I ever expected to be, but I am not happy.
My composure is no less a source of terror than my former agitation,
as I know that the cessation of pain is sometimes an indication
that the disorder is approaching a fatal termination, even when the
patient may be anticipating his recovery."

"But, my friend," said I, "the terror you feel under your composure,
is a proof that you are unwilling to seize a premature hope; and
may be regarded as an evidence, that the Lord who refused to appear
in the whirlwind, in the earthquake, or in the fire, is graciously
appearing in the still small voice of love."

"Oh, my old and tried friend, my sins appear too great and too
aggravated to be forgiven."

"But, Henry, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin; and
He is sent, not only to proclaim liberty to the captive soul, but to
heal the broken-hearted."

"Oh!" he exclaimed, "I would believe. Lord, help my unbelief."

Death was now rapidly approaching; and having pressed the hands of
each of us, he reclined his head on his wife's bosom, and fainted
away. On recovering from this fit, which lasted several minutes,
he once more opened his eyes, and casting a mournful look on us,
said, "I die an unworthy and guilty sinner at the foot of the cross;
but will He permit me to perish when crying to Him to save me?
Impossible!" he exclaimed; and then, as if having exhausted all his
strength by this last effort, his head fell back on the pillow, and
he expired.

Thus died Henry Beaufoy, who, in his youthful days, bade fair to
exhibit, in after life, an example of the beauty and consistency
of the Christian character; but having been seduced from the paths
of wisdom and of piety, he entered upon a career of evil, which
at length brought him to a premature grave. His submission at the
last to the visitations of Providence, as an infliction which he
deserved; and the avowal he made, when yielding up the ghost, gave
to his surviving friends _a hope_ that he died in the Lord, and is
at rest from his sorrows; but still gloomy shadows would sometimes
fall upon their spirits, and they often sighed and wept over his
memory, as of one who had come short of the kingdom of heaven.

As female influence is so powerful, and has often been employed to
seduce the man who fears the Lord, from the paths of righteousness
and the ways of peace, let him be on his guard when about to form a
connection for life, and not suffer beauty and accomplishments to
become a substitute for decided piety. He may think that he shall
be able to withstand every ensnaring art, and every fond entreaty,
and that he shall ultimately gain over his wife to the obedience of
faith; but in this he may be deceived, and have cause to mourn over
the consequences of his imprudence, when it is too late. But if a
man should violate the sanctity of the Divine law, and marry a woman
who is not decidedly pious, let her be on her guard, lest she become
the cause of his moral ruin. Let her beware of enticing him to a
theatre, or an evening party, when his inclinations would take him
to the house of prayer--let her beware of manifesting a spirit of
indifference or hostility to the practice of family devotion, which
his conscience constrains him to observe. She may not regard such
proceedings as wrong, or likely to prove injurious to the reputation
or the happiness of her husband, but she may be mistaken; and if her
persuasions or her indifference should prove successful, as is too
often the case, she may be called to feel the bitter consequences
of her folly and her guilt, amidst the wreck of domestic happiness.
She may suppose, that the religion of her husband, like her own,
has nought to do with the inner man of the heart, and that it may
be thrown aside, and resumed, as caprice may dictate, but she is
mistaken; and if she should induce him to abandon it for a season,
she may live to be stung by his reproaches, and tortured by her own,
when he is brought to suffer the due reward of his deeds.

From the preceding sketch, which has been taken, not from the
conceptions of my own fancy, but the facts of real life, we may
see that it is an evil thing to forsake the Lord God; and though
his tender mercy may stoop to recover the backslider just as he
is sinking into despair, yet he seldom throws the light of his
countenance over the death-bed of such an individual. I am aware
that some employ the partial and the final apostasy of professors,
as an argument to prove that our perseverance in religion is quite
precarious and uncertain, depending solely on ourselves, without any
regard to the counsel of Jehovah. That it does depend on ourselves,
I admit--but not solely. We are to walk in the ways of the Lord;
but he has promised to uphold our goings, that our footsteps slip
not. We are to cleave to him with full purpose of heart; but he
has promised never to leave us, nor forsake us. We are commanded
to keep ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our
Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life; but he has promised to keep
us by his power through faith unto salvation. We know that the
beginning of the work of grace in the heart, is to be ascribed to
the immediate operations of his power; and it is to be viewed as
the commencement of a continued series of operations, which will
ultimately issue in the salvation of the soul. And though the faith
of some may be overthrown, "nevertheless, the foundation of God
standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are
his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from
iniquity." His designs will be accomplished, but accomplished in a
natural way. They do not supersede the necessity of our exertions.
They do not suppose that we are passive machines, acted on by
some supernatural power; but living agents, endowed with a Divine
principle, which works within us "both to will and to do." They
do not relax our obligations to watchfulness--to prayer--to an
avoidance of evil--and to the cultivation of the spirit and habits
of devotion, but increase them; and the reciprocal influence of our
exertions, and of the concurrence of Divine strength, is so nicely
balanced in the purpose of grace, that while we are compelled to
ascribe to God the honour of our preservation and final salvation,
yet we are made responsible for every act of transgression and
disobedience. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take
heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. x. 12).

One of the chief causes of decay in religion, is our forgetting
that the means necessary for first bringing us to God, are no less
essential for retaining us steadily in a close walk with him. To
watch and pray was no less the duty of the disciples, when they had
left all for Christ, than when they first approached his presence,
and sought his pardon and love. He has prayed that we may be kept
from the evil of the world; but we must look for an answer to this
prayer--in our choice of good, and rejection of evil--in the control
of our passions--and in the integrity and uprightness of our conduct.

It has been observed, that apostasy begins in the closet; secret
prayer is at first carelessly performed--then occasionally
omitted--and then entirely neglected. When this is the case,
the religious taste becomes fastidious--a roving habit is often
indulged--the customs of the world are yielded to, and the principle
of sin, which once lay dormant in the heart, rises up with renewed
strength, and breaks forth in open manifestations of evil. This
process in moral degeneracy may be slow or rapid, according to the
degree of influence which circumstances may be permitted to supply,
but when it has once begun, it is always going on; and though it
may not be in our power to assign the _primary_ cause, yet too much
secular prosperity is generally one of the most operative. The
more a Christian is indulged with temporal blessings--the higher
he or his family rises in the world--the more he ought to have his
heart glowing with love and gratitude to God. But so inveterate
is the depravity of human nature, that uninterrupted prosperity
imperceptibly deadens the best affections of the soul, which
becomes so completely engrossed in worldly objects and pursuits,
that religion is rarely thought of but on Sabbath, and even then it
is entangled and mixed up with the things of time and sense. When
prosperity comes thus to act on a person who possesses only the form
of godliness, while destitute of its power, its fatal effects may be
looked for with almost perfect certainty.

Another cause of the evil which we are so often called to deplore
is the indulgence of a speculative turn of mind in matters of
religion. We are commanded to search the Scriptures--to prove all
things, and hold fast that which is good. When this investigation
is pursued from a pure motive, and a spirit of prayer attends
it--keeping the mind in a teachable and devotional frame--the
greatest benefit will be the result. But when once the Word of God
is treated with levity--when liberties are taken with it--when
one part of it is impugned as mysterious, another rejected as
apparently contradictory--when its doctrines are denounced, as
incomprehensible, and its precepts objected to, because they are
too unaccommodating to the habits of the age--an evil spirit enters
into the heart, which first corrupts it and then entangles it in a
labyrinth of error. This spirit of unbelief commences its operation
by reducing the magnitude of the evil of sin; the necessity and
then the reality of the atonement is rejected; prayer is considered
useless; the influence of the Holy Spirit in the renovation and
sanctification of the heart is denied; and then the apostasy becomes
complete.

But one of the most prevalent causes of this evil is an adoption of
the principles and a compliance with the customs of the world. There
are some customs which exist amongst us to which we must conform;
but there are others from which we are commanded to abstain. We may
mingle with the men of the world in business, and also in social
life; but we are to have "no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, but rather reprove them." We may, in common with others,
have our social enjoyments, and partake of the innocent recreations
of life, without sustaining injury to our morals or our Christian
reputation; but if we venture to cross the line which separates the
lawful from forbidden ground--if we form habits which the spirit
of the gospel condemns, and venture into those places of amusement
to which the children of folly are so much attached--though we
may not immediately feel their corrupting influence, yet we shall
become bitterly sensible of it at last, when the evil is beyond
our control. We may silence the remonstrances of conscience, by
resolving not to depart from the ways of righteousness, and may
affect to treat with contempt the kind admonitions of our more
pious friends; but by no species of artifice shall we be able to
form a junction between the spirit of Christ and the spirit of
the world; or retain the fervour of devotion within the walls
of an assembly-room or a theatre. The experiment has been often
made, and the result always proves morally disastrous. In some
instances the professor has passed from all connection with pure
spiritual religion, into a state of confirmed indifference or avowed
hostility; in others, he has retained the form, while he has lost
the spirit of devotion, and the closing scene of his life has been
occupied by the most heart-rending reproaches and the bitterest
lamentations of misery and woe.

As apostasy from the faith and purity of the gospel, from whatever
causes it may proceed, invariably inflicts on the apostate, when
awakened to a clear perception of his sin and danger, the most awful
and agonizing mental sufferings, I wish to do all that is in my
power to arrest his progress ere it be too late, and lead him back
to the source of pure felicity, which he has forsaken. I would ask
him if the gaieties, the follies, and the amusements of the world,
afford him such substantial happiness as he once enjoyed, when he
walked in the light of God's countenance? I would ask him if he does
not often regret the exchange he has made? and as often condemn
himself for his folly and ingratitude in having made it? I would ask
him if he does not wish to return once more to taste that the Lord
is gracious--once more to feel that Christ is precious--once more to
partake of the peace which passeth all understanding--and to live,
as in the early days of his profession, in the sublime anticipations
of eternal glory? I would ask, Have you never made the attempt? As
time advances, are you not gradually sinking into a state of mental
dejection, from which you see no chance of being delivered? I do not
propose these questions to inflict fresh torment, or increase the
anguish which presses upon your guilty conscience, but to induce
you to return to the Lord from whom you have departed, that you may
again experience his loving-kindness, and that your prayers, mingled
with songs of praise, may again ascend to the God of your salvation.

In illustration of this subject, I shall here conclude by quoting
the following from a deceased divine:--"If you ask, But how am I
to return? how am I to regain my long-lost peace? I answer, In the
same way in which you first found rest to your soul, namely, by
repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

"In general, I may observe, the Scriptures assure us of the
exceeding great and tender mercy of God, and of his willingness to
forgive all those who return to him in the name of his Son. It is
necessary that we be well persuaded of this truth, lest instead of
applying as supplicants, we sink into despair. If a sinner, newly
awakened, be in danger of this species of despondency, a backslider
is still more so. His transgressions are much more heinous in their
circumstances than those of the other, having been committed under
greater light and against greater obligations; and when to this is
added the treatment which his conduct must necessarily draw upon him
from his religious connections, he may be tempted to relinquish all
hopes of recovery, and consider himself as an outcast, both from
God and man. Unhappy man! Thy sin may be great, and the language
of an awakened conscience may suggest, Who can heal me? Yet do not
despair. 'Hear what God the Lord will speak. He will speak peace
unto his people and to his saints: but let them not turn again to
folly.'

"There are circumstances which may render it almost impossible for
forgiveness to be exercised amongst men; and therefore men are ready
to think it must be so with respect to God. 'But with the Lord there
is mercy, and with him there is plenteous redemption.' He will not
only pardon, but pardon abundantly: 'for his thoughts are not as our
thoughts, nor his ways as our ways. For as the heavens are higher
than the earth, so are his ways than our ways, and his thoughts
than our thoughts.--The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth
from all sin.--If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'
The threatenings against the unpardonable sin itself do not affect
the truth of these merciful declarations: for that sin is all along
described as excluding repentance, as well as forgiveness. The party
is supposed to be given up to hardness of heart. If, therefore,
we confess our sin with contrition, we may be certain it is not
unpardonable, and that we shall obtain mercy through the blood of
the cross.

"But the great question is, How we shall repent of our sins, and
return to God by Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly it is much easier to
get out of the way, than to get in again; to lose the peace of our
minds, than to recover it. Sin is of a hardening nature; and the
farther we have proceeded in it, the more inextricable are its
entanglements. But, however this be, we either do desire to return,
or we do not.

"If my reader be in such a state of mind, it is with a mixture of
hope and tenderness that I attempt to point out to him the means of
recovery.

"I would recommend you to embrace every possible season of
retirement for reading the Holy Scriptures, especially those parts
which are suited to your case, and accompany your reading with
prayer. God's Word hid in the heart is not only a preservative
against sin, but a restorative from its evil effects. It both wounds
and heals; if it rebukes, it is with the faithfulness of a friend,
or if it consoles, its consolations will melt us into contrition.

"Read especially those parts of Scripture which are addressed to
persons in your situation, as the second chapter of Jeremiah; or
those which express the desires of a returning sinner, as the
twenty-fifth, thirty-second, thirty-eighth, fifty-first, and
hundred and thirtieth Psalms. You may not be able to adopt all this
language as your own; but, nevertheless, it may be useful. To read
the genuine expressions of a contrite heart, may produce at least a
conviction of the disparity between the frame of mind possessed by
the writer and yourself; and such a conviction may be accompanied
with a sensation of shame and grief.

"It is also of importance that you read the Scriptures _by
yourself_. To read a portion of them in your families is right, and
ought not to be neglected; but there is a great difference, as to
personal advantage, between this and reading them alone. Your mind
may then be more at liberty for reflection; you can read, and pause,
and think, and apply the subject to your case.

"It is of still greater importance to unite prayer with it. Reading
the Word of God and prayer are duties which mutually assist each
other: the one furnishes us with confessions, pleas, and arguments,
while the other promotes solemnity and spirituality of mind, which
goes farther towards our understanding of the Scriptures than a
library of expositions.

"It was in one of these seasons of retirement that David put up this
petition, 'I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant,
for I do not forget thy commandments.' He seems to have had in his
thoughts the condition of a poor wandering sheep, that had left the
flock and the rich pastures where it was wont to be led, ranging
rather like a native of the woods, than one who had been used to
be led, and fed, and protected by an owner. Bewildered by its own
wanderings, entangled in the thorns and briars of the wilderness,
and exposed to beasts of prey, it feels its forlorn condition, and
bleats after the shepherd and the flock! Is there nothing in this
that may suit your case? Yes, thou art the man! Thou hast gone
astray like a lost sheep, got entangled in thine own corruptions,
and knowest not how to find the way back; yet it may be thou hast
not utterly lost the remembrance of those happy days before thou
wert led to deviate from the right path. Let thy prayer then be
directed, like that of the psalmist, to the good Shepherd of the
sheep: 'Seek thy servant.'

"Prayer is a religious exercise which is necessary to accompany
all others. 'In every thing by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.' Solemn
approaches to God are adapted to impress the mind with a sense of
sin, and to inspire us with self-abhorrence on account of it. It was
by a view of the holiness of God that Isaiah felt himself to be a
'man of unclean lips;' and it was by conversing with the Lord that
Job was brought to abhor himself, and repent in dust and ashes. The
very exercise of prayer carries in it an implication that 'our help
must come from above;' a truth which in all cases it is absolutely
necessary for us to know, and with which, in this case especially,
we cannot be too deeply impressed. We easily get out of the way; but
if ever we return to it, it must be by His influence, who restoreth
our souls and leadeth us in the paths of righteousness for his
name's sake.

"To tell a person who is out of the way, that he has no help
in himself, and that if ever he get in again it must be by the
restoring grace of God, may seem to some people paradoxical and
disheartening; but it is a truth, and a truth which, if properly
understood and felt, would go farther towards our recovery than we
at first may apprehend. Paul found that 'when he was weak then was
he strong,' and many others have found the same. The more we are
emptied of self-sufficiency, the more sensibly shall we feel our
weakness, and the more importunately implore that the Lord would
save us, and restore us.

"This was the way in which we at first found rest for our souls,
and this must be the way in which we recover it. An awakened sinner
frequently labours hard after peace, without being able to obtain
it. Wherefore? 'Because he seeks it not by faith, but by the
works of the law.' In all his labours there is a large portion of
self-righteous hope, or an idea that God will pity him on account
of his endeavours to please him. But if ever he obtain peace, it
must be by utterly despairing of all help from himself; and falling,
as a sinner entirely lost, into the arms of sovereign mercy. This is
walking in the good old way, which brings rest to the soul; and the
same sense of our insufficiency which is necessary to find rest in
the first instance, is equally necessary to find it on all future
occasions.

"We may pray from year to year, and all without effect. It is
only the 'prayer of faith' that succeeds; the distinguishing
characteristic of which is a sense of there being no help in us,
and a laying hold of the mercy and faithfulness of God, as revealed
in the gospel. David for a time _groaned_, and even _roared_,
'by reason of the disquietness of his heart;' but he obtained no
relief from this. On the contrary, he sunk deeper and deeper into
despondency. At length he betook him to another manner of praying:
'Out of the depths cried I unto thee--and thou heardest my voice!'
We find him here pleading the exceeding greatness of God's mercy,
and the plenteousness of his redemption. Here he found rest for
his soul! Jonah also for a time was in much the same state. With a
conscience so far awakened as to deprive him of all enjoyment, he
retired to the bottom of the ship; and, wearied with the load of
his guilt, slept away his time. Even the horrors of a tempest did
not awaken him. At length being roused and reproved by heathens,
and marked out by lot as the guilty person, he confesses who he is,
and what he had done, and advises them to cast him into the sea.
Humanity struggles for a time with the elements, but in vain; he
must be cast away. Think what must have been his state of mind at
this time! He is thrown into the deep, is swallowed by a fish, and
retains his reason even in that situation; but no light shines upon
his soul. Conceiving himself to be on the point of death, his heart
sighed within him, 'I am cast out of thy sight!' But ere the thought
had well passed through his mind, another struck him, 'Yet will I
look again towards thy holy temple!' He looked, and was lightened:
'Out of the belly of hell cried I unto thee, and thou heardest my
voice! When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my
prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.'"[21]

  [21] The author is indebted to a work of the late Rev. A. Fuller for
  the quotation with which this chapter closes.



THE FARM-HOUSE KITCHEN.


In the parish of Woodford, about twenty miles from the town where
I resided, there were a few cottages, pleasantly situated on an
eminence which commanded a beautiful and extensive view of the
surrounding country. They were principally occupied by the peasantry
who were employed on the neighbouring farms. No less than five
church spires could be seen rising in the distance, from amongst the
trees, of different parishes; but they were too remote for the aged
and the infirm to visit, and the more robust and healthy were also
very ready to plead the length of the way as an excuse for their
non-attendance at public worship.

Mr. Annesley, a Dissenting minister in the village of Woodford,
on passing this hamlet one summer evening, had his attention
arrested by an interesting looking young man, about the age of four
and twenty, who appeared to be in the last stage of a decline.
He presented to him a few religious tracts, which the young man
received with an air of indifference; but when informed that they
were intended to prepare him for that world into which he was likely
soon to enter, he seemed pleased, and said, "That is what I want,
Sir." This young man, who was the son of a respectable farmer, lived
about two months after the first interview Mr. Annesley had with
him; and died avowing his entire dependence on the death of Jesus
Christ for eternal life: blessing God in the most simple and ardent
terms, for his goodness in sending to him at the eleventh hour a
knowledge of the way of salvation.

[Illustration: JAMES GODWIN

W. L. THOMAS.

BRINGING IN THE LAST LOAD OF CORN.

THE REAPERS' HYMN OF PRAISE.

Vol. ii. page 285.]

After his death, the old farmer, his father, when lamenting that
they enjoyed no religious advantages in that remote part of the
parish, very readily consented to have his large kitchen licensed
for preaching; and Mr. Annesley engaged to give them a sermon
on Tuesdays every week. When he commenced his labours he had to
pass through the ordeal of mockery and contempt. Sometimes he was
insulted by the poor rustics, when attempting to explain to them the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but by visiting them in their
own cottages, and displaying a kind and affectionate disposition,
he gained their confidence and esteem, and they pressed to hear him
with devout and earnest attention.

Having resolved to make an excursion to Woodford, and pay a visit to
this rural place of worship, of which I had often heard, I took my
seat in the coach, one afternoon in the month of September, as far
as the village of Woodford, from which it was a walk of three miles
to the farm-house. The weather was unusually hot for the season of
the year; but towards the evening, the cool breezes which sprung up
made me enjoy my journey exceedingly.

After getting down from the coach, I quitted the village by a cross
road, and then turned aside into a fine shady lane. On passing by
a farm-yard, I observed an extraordinary rush of men, women, and
children, and being anxious to know the cause of it, I advanced into
the yard, where I saw a group marching before the last load of com,
which they were bringing from the field, and singing the following,
as a harvest hymn of praise:--

    "But now his hand hath crown'd our toil,
     We joy like those that share the spoil,
         The harvest home to bear:
     With shouts the laughing pastures ring;
     With grateful hearts we reapers sing
     The praise of heaven's eternal King,
     Through whose paternal care we bring
         The produce of the year."

I tarried some time, intermingling my feelings with those of the
enraptured swains, and participating with them in this feast of
innocent delight; but on looking at my watch I found that I must
hasten onwards, or I should be deprived of the higher gratification
of witnessing a more interesting and a more important sight. On
proceeding up the lane that led to the rural temple of devotion,
I occasionally heard the harmony of Zion's strains, which became
more distinct and impressive as I drew nearer, till at length I was
enabled to catch the following words which the congregation were
singing:--

    "Shall I beneath thy gospel stay,
       And hear the call of grace;
     And at the awful judgment-day,
       Be banish'd from thy face?"

I got into the passage just as Mr. Annesley arose to pray, but I
did not choose to advance, lest I should disturb the devotions of
the little assembly. While standing there, two ladies approached
towards the door, and, like myself, waited in silence till the
prayer was ended, when we all entered together. Our appearance
excited considerable attention, but whenever we had taken our seats,
every eye was attentively directed towards the minister. To one
who has been accustomed to offer up his prayers and his praises,
in the fixed and appropriate language of our national liturgy--and
to listen to the enunciation of life and immortality within the
walls of a church--the scene of rustic simplicity exhibited in this
farm-house kitchen must have appeared very singular. Mr. Annesley
stood in a corner of the room, his Bible lying open before him on
a small round deal table, the family clock ticking behind him; his
rustic audience was variously disposed of--some sitting on the
dresser to his right, others in the chimney-corner to the left, the
majority on forms in front of him, and a few bending forwards from
the passage, being incapable of gaining admission. As they were
singing the hymn which intervenes between the prayer and sermon, an
expression which I had recently met with came to my mind, and with
such force, that no external decoration was wanted to render
either the place or the truth more acceptable to my taste--"A
religion without a Saviour, is the temple without its glory, and
its worshippers will all desert it." Just as the minister read his
text, the countenances of several changed; all were attentive, and
appeared to have forgotten the toils and the fatigues of labour,
while listening to the discourse, which was founded on the following
words of Jesus Christ:--"But there are some of you that believe
not" (John vi. 64). He had not been speaking long, before my spirit
involuntarily said, "Here is religion with a Saviour, and wherever
his truth is preached, there he condescends to dwell."

[Illustration: J. GODWIN.

W. L. THOMAS

THE FARM-HOUSE KITCHEN.

Vol. ii. page 286.]

The sermon delivered was simple, perspicuous, and well calculated to
fix the attention of the audience. The figures of illustration and
description were selected from the rural scenes and occupations with
which the congregation were familiar; and from the looks, the tones,
and the actions of the speaker, it was evident that he was really
in earnest, and desired to impress his hearers with his own views
and feelings. When expostulating with those who did not believe, he
suddenly paused, his eyes, more than half suffused with tears, told
more forcibly than language could express, how deeply he felt; while
his lips, quivering with tremulous anxiety, gave utterance to the
interrogation--"_Why won't you come to Jesus Christ, and be saved?_
Do you think you need no Saviour? Impossible! Do you imagine that
he is unable to save you? Do you suppose he is unwilling to save
you? Impossible! Do you think you are in no danger of being lost?
Do you imagine that the misery of a lost soul is less terrible than
the Scriptures represent it? or that the happiness of a redeemed
spirit is less joyous? Impossible! _Why then won't you come to
Jesus Christ, and be saved?_" No profound arguments were employed
in pressing on the attention of his rustic audience these pointed
questions, and yet they came with an almost irresistible force.
As the people were retiring, I heard some of them saying to one
another, "Ah! why don't we come to Jesus Christ, and be saved?"

Being seated nearly opposite the two ladies who entered along with
me, I could not avoid noticing the behaviour of one of them, which
contrasted strongly with the simple and devout attention of the
cottagers. Sometimes she listened with apparent seriousness, but
more than once the smile of contempt and the look of scorn seemed to
gather on her countenance; and at one part of the sermon, when the
preacher was speaking of the entire depravity of the human heart,
she made an effort to leave, but was apparently prevented from doing
so by her friend. When, however, this simple question fell from Mr.
Annesley's lips, she became still and thoughtful, and I observed
tears fall from her eyes, an unconscious response to the earnest
appeals of the preacher.

After service I introduced myself to Mr. Annesley, who insisted
on my spending the night at his house. On our talking over the
occurrences of the evening, I mentioned what I had noticed in the
conduct of one of the ladies, and expressed my belief that her heart
was penetrated by what she had heard. "If, Sir," he remarked, "that
lady should be converted, she will be a living witness of the truth
of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and afford a strong corroborative
testimony of its Divine origin. I have," he added, "no personal
acquaintance with her; nor was I aware that she was present this
evening, till I saw her leaving at the conclusion of the service,
but I have long known her character; she resides at Hollyton, a
village about a mile and a half distant, and, I believe, is one
of the most agreeable women you could meet with in society, but
she is a professed infidel; and though most of her relatives and
friends are religious, she will rarely consent to attend any place
of worship with them. She says that the scheme of salvation is a
cunningly devised fable, got up by the priesthood, and palmed upon
our hopes and fears by the policy of our rulers; and unhesitatingly
avows that it is the duty of every person, who feels a proper
respect for the dignity of the human species, to employ all his
influence to dissipate the delusion. She will not, I understand,
enter into any discussion on the Christian religion, because, she
says, no evidence could induce her to believe it--no, not if she
had seen the miracles performed which are ascribed to Christ and
his apostles--and often quotes the inconsistent conduct of its
professors, to show that its moral tendency is unfavourable to
the growth of virtue. The lady who accompanied her is of a very
different stamp, and a pious member of the church. I presume her
influence has induced Mrs. Farrington to attend our meeting this
evening. I trust that she may yet be led to see and repent of her
errors."

"I am mistaken," I remarked, "if her scepticism has not received its
death-blow to-night. She will be thinking soon about coming to Jesus
Christ to be saved."

"Amen. The Lord grant that it may be so."

I then referred to the interesting scene I had witnessed on my
way to the farm-house, and was informed by Mr. Annesley that the
labourers whose festivities I had witnessed, belonged for the
most part to his regular congregation at Woodford, and were in
the employment of Farmer Hopkins, one of the most esteemed and
influential members of his church.

The next morning, as we were sitting at breakfast, a note was handed
to Mr. Annesley from Mrs. Farrington, requesting that he would be so
kind as call on her in the course of the forenoon. She added, that
she understood he had a clerical friend with him at present, whom
she had observed at the meeting on the previous evening, and that
she would feel much gratified if he would accompany him.

"Your discourse," I observed, "has already borne fruit."

"I trust so," he replied. "You will of course go with me on this
visit to Mrs. Farrington's. I have never been in her house, and I
should like to have a friend with me, more especially as she seems
anxious for it herself."

I would have excused myself, on the ground that I had already been
longer absent from home than I had intended; but my objections
were overruled, and I consented to remain another night with Mr.
Annesley, and return to town next morning. In the course of the
forenoon, we proceeded to Mrs. Farrington's, and were received by
her with the utmost courtesy. She mentioned that she had recognized
me the previous evening as a clergyman in ----, whom she had once
heard preach, and on her way home she had learned that I was to be
the guest of Mr. Annesley for the night. She endeavoured to assume
her accustomed ease and sprightliness of manner; but still I felt
persuaded that she was labouring under strong mental depression,
which she was anxious to conceal. The conversation turned on the
scenery around us, which had now assumed the beautiful autumnal
tinge; and when Mrs. Farrington pointed to a double row of fine elm
trees, whose thick and extended branches overshadowed a lovely walk
in the front of her cottage, I could not refrain from repeating the
following lines of Cowper:--

                              "Meditations here,
    May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
    May give a useful lesson to the head;
    And learning wiser grow, without his books."

"But," said Mrs. Farrington, "to quote from the same author--

    'Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
    Have ofttimes no connection. _Knowledge_ dwells
    In heads replete with thoughts of other men;
    Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.'"

"Very true," said Mr. Annesley, "and hence we sometimes see those
who are endowed with the greatest intellectual talents, and enriched
with the largest stores of knowledge, acting the most foolish parts
in the drama of life, and terminating their career without any hope
of a blissful immortality." This allusion to a future world, threw
a shade over the countenance of Mrs. Farrington, and more than once
she endeavoured with difficulty to suppress a sigh.

"We have high authority for saying," I remarked, "that it is not
good for the soul to be without knowledge; but considering the
relation in which we stand to God, and our condition as sinners
against his righteous government, there is no knowledge so essential
to our happiness, as a knowledge of his character, and the way in
which his favour is to be conciliated. Without this, we are left
in absolute uncertainty respecting our final destiny, which must be
perplexing and alarming, in proportion as we seriously meditate on
the capabilities of the human soul to suffer or enjoy in a future
state of existence. Hence arises the desirableness of a revelation
of the will of God; and the advantage of having such a revelation,
when made, committed to writing, that it may be preserved from the
corruption and uncertainty to which oral tradition is necessarily
exposed. This revelation we have in the sacred Scriptures; its
purity and adaptation to our moral condition are strong internal
evidences of its genuineness; and I am at a loss to conceive how
any one can reject it, without destroying his own peace of mind. It
delineates our character, as guilty, depraved, and unhappy, with the
most perfect accuracy; and points our attention to a Saviour, who
came to save and to bless us, and to fit us for a nobler life than
we can ever live on earth."

Mrs. Farrington became deeply affected, burst into tears, and
left the room, but soon after returned, offering as an apology
for her weakness and her rudeness, as she termed it, an excessive
nervous irritability under which she was then labouring. After a
moment's pause, Mr. Annesley said:--"Pray, Madam, is not your mind
now powerfully affected by those religious truths which you once
rejected as the fallacious opinions of man?"

"Yes, Sir," she replied, "it is, and has been since I heard you
preach last night in Farmer Rogers' kitchen. I have hitherto
rejected the gospel as a cunningly devised fable, and generally
looked with pity or contempt on those who embraced it, but then I
was convinced of its divinity, and by the force of an evidence which
I had not previously examined."

"What fresh evidence of the divinity of the gospel," said Mr.
Annesley, "did you receive last night, for I do not recollect
advancing any?"

"The evidence of experience," she replied, "for the gospel came
not in word only, but in power, and I could no longer resist it.
Curiosity led me to that sequestered house of prayer; and at first
I was disposed to treat the whole affair with contempt. The pride
of my heart rose up against the statement which you gave us of the
entire depravity of our nature, and I should have left in disgust,
had not my friend prevented me; but when you proposed that simple
yet important question, '_Why won't you come to Jesus Christ, and
be saved?_' I felt as though an arrow had pierced my soul, and from
that hour till now, I have been suffering the agonies of a wounded
spirit. I could get no sleep last night, reflecting on my condition;
and early this morning I despatched a messenger to your house,
with the note which you received. I feel deeply obliged for the
promptness with which you and Mr. ---- have responded to my request,
in coming to see me."

"But," inquired Mr. Annesley, "as the interrogation you refer to was
no direct proof of the Divine origin of the gospel, how came it to
produce such a conviction in your mind?"

"I have been revolving that question, and it has created some strong
doubts of the correctness of my present belief; but yet now I can no
more reject the gospel as false, than I could before receive it as
true. That interrogation came with a power which was superhuman, and
its impressions on my heart bore the stamp of the same agency; and
now, Sir, the only question which I wish resolved is this: May I be
permitted to hope that that Saviour whom I have so long rejected,
and so often and so grossly insulted, will ever condescend to cast
one tender look of compassion on me?"

"In the conversion of a sinner," said Mr. Annesley, "it pleases God
to display his sovereignty, no less than his power and his grace;
and hence he generally accomplishes it in a way which compels us
to acknowledge his direct and immediate agency. Had he chosen to
convince you of the Divine origin of that system of truth, which you
have so long rejected, by the slow and rational process of a logical
argument, your judgment might have been convinced, while your
heart remained unaffected by its awful and sublime communications;
but by convincing you of your guilt, and of your danger, and of
the necessity of a Mediator and a Saviour, he has rendered that
argumentative process unnecessary, in compelling you at once to seek
the consolations of mercy as essential to your happiness."

"Oh! yes, Sir, they are essential to my happiness, indeed they are,
but I fear they will be withheld. What plea can I urge for mercy? On
what basis can I rest a hope of acceptance?"

"It is usual," Mr. Annesley replied, "for a person who is just
awakened to a belief of the gospel of Christ, to suppose that its
consolations are far beyond his reach, whilst he stands in dread of
its awful denunciations; but this is a delusion which fear practises
on the imagination. In the operations of Divine truth on the heart,
there is a natural process observed on the part of the great
invisible Agent who conducts it; the convictions of personal guilt,
connected with an apprehension of merited punishment, prepare the
way for the reception of pardon and salvation, as the free gifts of
God."

"Am I then to consider what I suffer and what I dread as preparatory
visitations of Divine grace, to compel me to take refuge in Christ
from the wrath to come?"

"Yes, Madam. The feelings which you now experience, and which excite
so much alarm, are intended to prepare you for the manifestations
of the Divine favour and love. You have now to fix your attention
on Jesus Christ, who is able and willing to save all who come unto
God by him. And hear the encouraging and consolatory language he
employs--'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him
that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out' (John vi. 37)."

"But what reason have I to believe that such gracious words relate
to myself?"

"Their insertion in the Bible is your authority for so applying
them to yourself. But lest you should suppose that this gracious
declaration was designed, in any sense, for the exclusive relief of
those to whom it was originally given, the revelation of mercy and
grace concludes with language equally encouraging:--'And the Spirit
and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And
let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the
water of life freely' (Rev. xxii. 17). Why then should you doubt?
Why should you pause? Why should you continue to linger around the
promises of salvation, and not embrace them as the source of your
comfort?"

"I do not hesitate to plead the promise of salvation from any doubt
of its necessity, or of its truthfulness. I feel, however, such a
burden of guilt on my conscience, for having uttered so many hard
things against the Redeemer and his great salvation, and feel so
oppressed by a sense of unparalleled unworthiness, that I seem more
inclined to endure the chastening of the Lord, than venture to
implore the exercise of his pardoning love and mercy."

"You are, it is true, unworthy, but not unwelcome; unworthy, but not
unfit: for

    'All the fitness he requireth,
    Is to _feel_ your need of him.

How simple! Believe, and be saved; come to me, and I will give you
rest."

"Yes, Sir, the plan of salvation is both simple and suited; but
these attributes of its character stagger and perplex me."

"How so, Madam?"

"It appears more consonant to the awful majesty of Divine justice
to demand from me some costly sacrifice--to call upon me to endure
some severe privations and sufferings, as the condition of pardon
and acceptance, rather than to offer them freely and gratuitously.
I ought, I think, to suffer some extreme and prolonged infliction,
before I ought to cherish a hope of salvation."

"That is true; but, as the apostle says, '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' (Eph. ii. 8, 9)."

"I feel thankful that I am not now what I was yesterday--a proud and
haughty sceptic; looking with scornful contempt on the Bible--on the
Sabbath, and its public services--and on all who make a profession
of love to Jesus Christ; but I dare not lay claim to the spiritual
blessings which God graciously bestows on his redeemed and renovated
people. I hope in his mercy, and pray for its manifestations to my
guilty conscience, but I cannot do more; indeed, at times, I tremble
while cherishing a hope in his mercy, lest I should add the sin of
presumption, to the many other sins I have committed against him."

We now closed the interview by reading the Scriptures and prayer;
and then returned, devoutly thankful to the God of salvation for
what we had seen and heard.

In this state of agitating uncertainty, as to the final issue of
her hopes and her fears, Mrs. Farrington continued, as Mr. Annesley
afterwards informed me, for several months, suffering at times
intense remorse, and often strongly tempted to abandon herself to
despair. But by a patient continuance in the study of the Bible and
listening to the ministry of the Word, in meditation and in prayer,
she felt in process of time the sacred power of the promise of mercy
and grace; tasted that the Lord is gracious, and eventually had hope
and peace in believing; living through life in the fear of God, and
giving a practical exemplification of the truth of the apostolic
declaration, that "the grace of God that bringeth salvation,
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should
live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking
for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God
and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might
redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar
people, zealous of good works" (Titus ii. 11-14).

The conversion of this lady to the Christian faith, after having
signalized herself for many years by her unceasing hostility to it,
is a very strong evidence in confirmation of its Divine origin. What
human power could have effected such a moral renovation as that
which was produced while she was listening to this sermon by Mr.
Annesley? She anticipated no such a change, nor did she desire it.
In the sermon, which curiosity prompted her to hear, there was no
concentration of argument to carry conviction to her judgment--no
outbursts of eloquence--nor any decorations of style, to impress her
feelings or attract her taste, but merely an interrogation, and that
one of the most simple. From whence, then, came the all-powerful
energy by which her haughty spirit was made to quail before the
truth, which she had so long stigmatized as a cunningly devised
fable? Whence, unless from Him who can easily subdue all things
to himself; and whose spiritual triumphs are often graced by the
spontaneous submission of his most malignant enemies; thus turning a
prophetic announcement into an historic fact--"Thy people shall be
willing in the day of thy power."



A PARTY AT THE ELMS.


I must now request the courteous reader to return with me to
Mr. Holmes and his family, at the Elms, where, as it will be
recollected, we left Louisa, the eldest daughter, in a state of
great mental perplexity, though somewhat soothed by the judicious
letter of her worthy friend Mrs. Loader. It will also be remembered
that Louisa had addressed a second letter to the latter, detailing
further her career of Christian experience, and asking additional
advice and assistance as to her future course.[22]

  [22] Vol. ii. p. 177.

According to annual custom, a large party dined at the Elms,
consisting principally of Mr. Holmes' old city friends, who came
to enjoy a day in the country, and have a talk over the events
of former times. They had all sprung from an obscure origin--had
commenced to push their fortunes in London about the same time--and
were now in the possession of considerable wealth. The party
dined early. When the cloth was removed, the worthy host said he
would give a toast, which he hoped the ladies would respond to as
well as the gentlemen, though he admitted he ought to apologize
for attempting to revive a practice which was now becoming
obsolete--"Prosperity to the citizens of London; and may they ever
express their gratitude to God, by supporting the institutions of
benevolence." This toast having been duly honoured, the ladies
withdrew, leaving the gentlemen to their debates and discussions.

Miss Holmes proposed a walk--a proposal which the ladies and young
people gladly fell in with. It was a fine tranquil evening, at the
close of one of those beautiful days which frequently occur in
this country in the month of October. The sun was sinking in a sea
of crimson and gold, behind a finely wooded hill to the west, and
throwing his rich amber light through the foliage of the pleasure
ground in which the party was now sauntering. Everything tended to
soothe and tranquillize the mind, while not a sound could be heard,
but the rustling of the autumn leaves beneath the feet, or their
fall as the branches vibrated in the almost imperceptible evening
breeze.

Among the young people composing the party that day at the Elms,
was Miss Martin, an intimate friend of Miss Holmes, and decidedly
religious, but between whom and Louisa there had hitherto been
but little sympathy on this subject. Without possessing the years
and experience of Mrs. Loader, she nevertheless possessed an
affectionate disposition, with a fund of sterling good sense, and
was thus well qualified to impart consolation to the agitated and
distressed mind of her friend. Louisa felt her heart gradually
lightened as she conversed with Miss Martin; and the two ladies,
walking on together a little in advance, got engaged in so
interesting a discussion, that they soon lost sight of the younger
members of the party, who had set off to amuse themselves in another
direction. Louisa now recollected that she had promised a Bible
the day before to an old woman in the neighbourhood, and invited
Miss Martin to accompany her with it there--a proposal to which her
friend gladly acceded. They accordingly proceeded down a narrow
path which led from the shrubbery to a retired country road. They
then walked along a short distance till they came to a neat cottage,
at the door of which they gently tapped. It was opened by the old
woman, Mrs. Kent, who invited them to walk in and sit down. They
readily consented, and spent there a most interesting hour.

"I feel deeply obliged, ladies," said Mrs. Kent, "by your kindness
in fetching me this Bible. It is indeed a treasure. A large printed
Bible like this is just what I have long been wishing to procure,
as my eyes are become so dim I cannot see to read this small print"
(exhibiting a Bible which bore the marks of age).

"I am very glad, indeed, that you are pleased with it," replied
Louisa, "and I trust you may long be spared in health to enjoy its
stores."

"I have great reason to be thankful to God for the health he has
given me. I am in his hand--he doeth all things well."

"You have really a pretty cottage here," said Miss Martin, "and it
is very tastefully adorned. Have you lived here many years?"

"About twenty years. I was turned out of the cottage I lived in
before, by Lord Harwood's steward, because I would not give up my
religion; but the Lord opened the heart of a good man who lives in
the village, and he built this little cottage for me, and I have
lived here rent free ever since."

"How long may it be since you first knew the Lord?"

"More than forty years. I was, when young, a very thoughtless girl,
and took great delight in vain pleasures; but the Lord was pleased,
blessed be his name, to call me to a knowledge of the truth, and to
love and serve him, when I was about your age."

"And you are not weary of his service?"

"Weary of his service!" said the venerable matron, her eyes
sparkling as with youthful ardour--"no, Miss, though I often wonder
that the Lord is not weary of me, as I am such an unprofitable
servant."

"Then after forty years' experience, you can bear testimony to
the truth of what Solomon says of religion: 'Her ways are ways of
pleasantness, and all her paths are peace?'"

[Illustration: JAMES GODWIN.

W. L. THOMAS.

MISS HOLMES AND MISS MARTIN TAKING LEAVE OF MRS. KENT.

Vol. ii. p. 299.]

"That I can. I have been a widow five and twenty years. I have
outlived all my children but one, and I have not seen him for more
than sixteen years. I have had many troubles, but the Lord has
brought me through them all. He has given me a spirit of resignation
and contentment, and I can say, Let him do with me as seemeth good
in his sight. He is too wise to err."

"Then you don't envy the rich and the noble?"

"No, Miss, I envy no one. If the rich have comforts that I have not,
they have cares and temptations, from which I am protected. May the
Lord incline you, my young friends, to seek him in your youth, and
then you will find a treasure which is of more value than thousands
of gold and silver."

"I hope he has inclined us to seek him," said Miss Holmes; "and as
you have known him so many years, I shall be happy to come and visit
you, that you may teach me the way of the Lord more perfectly."

"I shall be glad to see you at any time, if you will condescend to
come and see me; but it is not in my power to teach you. The prophet
says, 'All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall
be the peace of thy children.'"

"I will soon come back again and have a long chat. Good night."

"Good night, ladies. May the Lord bless you."

"She is a dear old woman," said Miss Martin. "I have quite fallen in
love with her."

"Yes, my dear Mary, she is one of the Lord's hidden jewels, set
apart for himself. I am very glad to have made her acquaintance, but
I confess that I neglected to do this till the other day, though I
had often seen her knitting on the seat in front of her cottage as I
passed by."

The two friends now re-entered the avenue, and, taking a by-path,
ascended a little rising ground, which commanded a fine view of
the surrounding country. "How delightful it is, Louisa," said Miss
Martin, "to get a day's excursion away from the bustle and smoke of
London. What a beautiful landscape you have here--that venerable
church tower rising in the distance among the trees, and that fine
old mansion at the foot of the hill, with the deer feeding in the
park in front; and see what a pretty object Mrs. Kent's cottage
makes, when seen through this vista in the trees."

"It is certainly a beautiful prospect, Mary. I often come here
to contemplate it. I made a sketch the other day of Mrs. Kent's
cottage, which I shall show you when we get into the house. It is
both a picturesque object when viewed from a distance, and loses
none of its attractions on a near approach. She has displayed great
taste in the way she has disposed the evergreens and flowers around
it. But its chief glory is within."

"Very true, my dear Louisa. It is a sacred spot--often visited by
unseen messengers, when they come to earth on errands of mercy.
Strangers would pass by, and admire only the neatness of its
external appearance, but we have seen its concealed beauties."

"I was quite delighted," said Miss Holmes, "with the first visit
I paid her. She certainly possesses a very cultivated mind for a
person in her station. She has been a great reader in her time, but
now her favourite study is divinity, and the Bible is her text-book.
She gave me some particulars of her history. Her life has been a
chequered one. I was quite taken with the artless simplicity of her
conversation, and with the ease, I may almost say elegance, of her
manners. I shall certainly often stroll to her cottage for a chat;
and you must come here again soon, and pay her another visit along
with me."

"I am glad, my dear, that you are partial to her," replied Miss
Martin. I shall be delighted to accompany you again to Mrs. Kent's.
I hope you will often visit her. You will derive, I have no doubt,
much spiritual benefit from her conversation. There is nothing
which so polishes and refines the character as the influence of
religion. It improves the taste, without making it fastidious;
enlarges the intellect, without engendering vanity; softens and
sweetens the temper; and inspires a consciousness of individual
worth and importance, while at the same time it pays a respectful
regard to the laws and customs which prevail in society. Hence a
Christian appears as dignified in a cottage as in a mansion; and
living comparatively disengaged from the temptations of the world,
he is more at liberty to commune with the Redeemer, by which he
imperceptibly receives a more perfect impression of his image."

"But do you think, Mary, that every Christian exemplifies the
correctness of your remarks?"

"No, my dear. Some do not feel the influence of religion till late
in life, when their taste has been vitiated, their habits formed,
and their tempers set; and though it will correct some of the evils
which they may have contracted, yet it rarely happens that their
character receives such an amount of refinement as it would have
done, had they felt its transforming power at an earlier period."

Just at this moment they were startled by a deep groan, that came
from the wood near which they were standing, and on running to
afford some assistance to the supposed sufferer, Miss Holmes beheld
her facetious sister Emma, with a group of young friends, attempting
to conceal themselves, but who burst out into loud laughter when
they were discovered.

"What's the matter, girls?"

"Nothing, ladies; O nothing!" said Lucy Cooper, with a suppressed
smile.

"We were afraid, from the groan we heard, that some one had been
hurt, or was suddenly taken ill."

"It was only Emma, feigning illness, to disturb you in your grave
musings."

"O! Emma, I wonder how you could be so foolish! I am glad, however,
that there is nothing the matter; and I do not regret having been
disturbed, as it appears to have contributed to your mirth."

"We have just been seeing Mrs. Kent," said Emma, "and she told us
that you, and I suppose Miss Martin, had been there."

"O what a lovely place!" exclaimed several voices.

"How I should like to live in that beautiful cottage!" said a little
girl; "I wish grandpapa would buy such a one for me."

"The old lady," said another, "was looking over the Bible you gave
her when we tapped at the door, and she rose and received us with as
much grace and ease as though she had been a duchess. She appears to
be a very contented, nice old woman, and seems to be very religious
in her way. Is she not, Emma?"

"Yes, she is."

"Aye, she is at a good age to become religious, and she has nothing
else to engage her attention. I should like to have another talk
with her."

"We shall be happy to see you, Lucy, at any time," said Miss Holmes;
"and I think both you and Emma would be all the better for a few
lessons of staidness and sobriety from Mrs. Kent."

"O yes, I know I should; but as my propensity is to be religious, I
must check it, or I shall get quite unhappy. It won't do for me to
associate much with such devout people. I shall be sure to catch the
infection, from my natural habit of imitation."

Miss Holmes would have made some reply, but the appearance of her
brothers, and some of the gentlemen from the house, put a stop to
further conversation.

"Come, ladies," one of them exclaimed, "where have you been rambling
to all this time? We thought we had lost you. You have forgotten how
late it is, and we must be off for town in an hour or two."

The youthful party, thus summoned, hastened to the house, where,
after partaking of tea, the guests prepared to depart, just as the
moon began to rise. The family then being left alone, drew their
seats round the fire for a few minutes before they retired to rest,
and began to talk over the incidents of the day.

"This has been a very happy day," said Mr. Holmes; "for though our
friends are not all religious people, yet they are very worthy,
excellent persons."

"It must be a high gratification to you, father," said his eldest
son, "to see the companions of your youth sitting around your table,
with your children, and, by mutual intercourse, recalling the early
scenes and incidents of your career."

"Indeed it is, William; and I hope God has reserved the same
enjoyment for you all; and that, when I am resting in the grave with
my fathers, you will think and talk of these gone-by times."

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days after this, Miss Holmes received the following letter
from her esteemed friend, Mrs. Loader, which she had been anxiously
expecting for some time:--

     "_29th Oct., 18--._

     "MY DEAR LOUISA,--I received your letter of ----, and was
     glad to find that you were so far restored as to be able to
     occupy yourself in the service of Christian benevolence. The
     duties which now devolve upon you are no less novel than they
     are important; and while you may provoke others to scorn by
     the activity of your zeal, you may sometimes likewise involve
     yourself in perplexity and mortification. You already begin
     to feel the loss of the spiritual enjoyments which you so
     largely participated in when "first you knew the Lord," and you
     suppose that this is a conclusive evidence of the declining
     influence of religious principle over your mind; but you ought
     not to draw such a conclusion. If, dear Louisa, you expect
     that the realities of the unseen world will always retain that
     ascendency over your affections which they acquired when you
     first felt their power, you proceed in your calculations on
     mistaken data. When you were first impressed by the truth, you
     were a prisoner--confined in the solitary chamber; you held but
     little intercourse with the world around you, and your feelings
     were rendered more susceptible of strong excitement, from the
     influence which a protracted affliction had imperceptibly
     acquired over them; but now you are out and abroad--your spirits
     are braced up by the pressure of calls and engagements, which
     demand your attention; and you are compelled to engage in the
     duties and pursuits of social life. Can such a change in your
     habits take place without having some powerful effect on the
     state of your affections? Impossible! An active life is less
     favourable to devotional feeling than a contemplative one; and
     though I would not throw out a remark which should operate as
     a discouragement to exertion in the cause of Him who became
     obedient unto death for us, yet I assure you, that in proportion
     as the number of your employments increase, you will be deprived
     of the pleasures of retired devotion, even though the truths of
     religion retain their ascendency over your judgment, and its
     holy principles reign in your heart.

     "I have thought it right to make these observations, to guard
     you against the common error into which young Christians often
     fall, in supposing that their faith is not genuine, because it
     does not uniformly act with the same degree of activity and
     power.

     "That you should, at times, admit the possibility of the entire
     passing away of your religious convictions and impressions, and
     should look forward with shuddering dread to the consequences
     and final issue of such a calamitous event, does not surprise
     me, neither does it give me any alarm. This is usually one of
     the earliest mental trials a young disciple has to endure. You
     say that, notwithstanding the ceaseless terror which agitates
     your heart, you are moving forward, though slowly, between
     hope and fear: and if so, you are safe in the right way to the
     city of habitation, as fear will keep you from presumption,
     and hope from despair. Yes, my dear Louisa, the harmonious
     blending of these affections of the soul, will ever prove,
     in their restraining and sustaining influence, a shield of
     defence against the subtle temptations of the great adversary,
     and a well-spring of consolation in the season of gloom and
     depression. We read, 'The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear
     him, in those that hope in his mercy' (Psal. cxlvii. 11). But
     you are unconsciously guilty of a capital error--you think, and
     feel, and write, as if there were no being in existence who is
     able to keep you from falling, and who, at the same time, has
     no personal interest in doing it. Has a father no personal
     interest in the preservation of the life and happiness of his
     child? Hear what your heavenly Father says, when speaking to you
     from the celestial glory--'Can a woman forget her sucking child,
     that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea,
     they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have
     graven thee upon the palms of my hands' (Isa. xlix. 15, 16). Can
     you suppose that Jesus Christ, after dying to redeem you, will
     abandon you and leave you to perish, when you are praying--'Lord
     save me!' He loves his own; and all who come to him to be saved
     are his own, and none else will come; and when they come, he
     will in no wise neglect them or cast them out. Meditate often
     on the following words, which he spoke when on earth to his
     disciples, and which he has had recorded in the sacred volume,
     for the consolation of his disciples of all future times--'I
     pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but
     that thou shouldest keep them from the evil' (John xvii. 15).
     You may have great and sore trials in your Christian course--you
     may be exposed to severe temptations and great moral dangers,
     but you are safe; HE will not overlook you, or leave you, who
     gave his life as a ransom for your redemption. Your final
     salvation depends on no doubtful contingency. It is fixed and
     certain. And HE who gave his life for you, is now preparing a
     place for you in heaven--is doing something in your behalf which
     implies the exercise of power--getting in readiness, as I heard
     an eloquent preacher remark the other Sabbath, a quiet chamber
     for the accommodation of his beloved disciple in the house of
     his Father. And after preparing this mansion, he will not suffer
     its intended occupant to perish by the way. No; 'My sheep hear
     my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto
     them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall
     any man pluck them out of my hand.' (John x. 27, 28).

     "I am happy that you are intimate with the Corries, who used to
     be our next-door neighbours when we lived in London. They are
     a very excellent family, decidedly pious, and very benevolent.
     They are Christians of the old school--still retain their
     attachment to the singular phraseology which at one time was
     much in vogue amongst our evangelical preachers--and have
     imbibed a few opinions which, I think, need revision.

     "You appear to have had your peace disturbed, and your cheering
     prospects darkened, by your intercourse with them; but be not
     alarmed, as the more your faith is tried, the stronger it will
     grow; and instead of sustaining any injury from the conflicting
     elements of doubt and suspicion, which threaten to tear it up by
     the roots, it will strike them still deeper and deeper in that
     holy soil, in which it is ordained to flourish.

     "Your friends are not singular in their views of the nature of
     faith, but I do not think that they are correct; and as you have
     requested me to give you my opinion, I will cheerfully do so.
     They confound a plenary conviction of the truth of the Christian
     scheme of salvation, with an assurance of a personal interest
     in its invaluable blessings. This is the error into which they
     have fallen, and on the eve of which you are now standing; but
     it does not require much force of reasoning to show its fallacy.
     Faith is an assent of the mind to some truth, or some system
     of truth, which is established by satisfactory evidence. As
     this assent becomes weaker or stronger, in proportion to the
     clearness and force of the evidence by which it is produced, a
     full assurance of faith is that high degree of it which admits
     of no suspicion. Hence, you are convinced that Jesus Christ came
     into this world--that he sojourned in the land of Judea--that
     he performed the miracles which are ascribed to him--that he
     died on the cross to expiate the guilt of sin--rose from the
     dead--and is now seated on the right hand of the majesty on
     high, receiving there the ascriptions of praise from the lips of
     the redeemed.

     "You want no miracle wrought in your presence to induce you to
     believe this, because you believe it on the testimony of the
     inspired writers; nor is it necessary that a voice should speak
     to you from the celestial glory to confirm it. But though you
     are fully convinced of these facts, yet you are not so fully
     convinced that he died _for you_--or that he is gone to heaven
     to prepare a mansion for you, in the house of his Father.
     You believe that there is 'redemption through his blood, the
     forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;' but
     you sometimes doubt whether _you_ are redeemed and forgiven. You
     believe that 'he is able to save them to the uttermost that come
     unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for
     them;' but you are not fully persuaded that he is interceding
     for you. You feel your need of such a Saviour; and you know that
     'all that the Father giveth him shall come to him;' yet you
     doubt whether the Father ever gave you to Christ, or whether
     you have ever come unto him in a scriptural manner. You cannot
     believe the truth of the gospel more firmly than you do believe
     it--you cannot place a more entire dependence on Christ for
     salvation than you do place--you cannot feel more disposed to
     give him all the honour of your salvation than you do feel; and
     yet, at times, you doubt your acceptance--your safety--and your
     final blessedness. Does not this clearly prove that faith in
     Christ, and an assurance of an interest in him, are essentially
     distinct?

     "Nor can we doubt the correctness of this assertion, if we
     attend to the order of the Spirit's operations on our mind.
     He inclines us to believe the truth which he exhibits; and he
     enables us to do it. 'For he shall not speak of himself; but
     whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew
     you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive
     of mine, and shall shew it unto you; all things that the Father
     hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine,
     and shall shew it unto you.' This is his _first_ act; but it is
     a _later_ act, to bear testimony with our spirit that we are
     born of God; and as some space of time must necessarily elapse
     after he has performed the first act, before he performs the
     second, it is evident that faith may exist in its purity, and
     in its power, even when there is no assurance of it. Hence it
     follows, that a person who relies on the atonement of Christ for
     salvation is as safe, though he live and die without any firm
     persuasion of his future blessedness, as one who is enabled to
     rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Indeed, my dear Louisa, I
     should tremble to make the final happiness of my soul depend,
     in the slightest degree, on my personal assurance of its safety.
     This would be nothing less than intermingling a personal
     attainment with the efficacy of the Saviour's death; and placing
     my hope of a blissful immortality on the precarious basis of a
     fluctuating feeling, rather than on that immoveable foundation
     which God has laid in Zion. If you peruse the biographies of
     some of the most eminent Christians, you will perceive that
     during their pilgrimage on earth, they frequently complained
     of that alternation of feeling which you now experience; and
     some have been left for days, and for months, to walk in mental
     darkness without the light of the Divine countenance. Your
     favourite poet, Cowper, was a man eminently embued with the
     spirit of Christ; and yet in what a dark and gloomy frame of
     mind did he leave this world. His biographer says, that within
     a few days of his decease, after a near relative had been
     attempting to cheer him with the prospect of exchanging a world
     of infirmity and sorrow, for a far more exceeding and eternal
     weight of glory, he threw from him the words of peace, and
     exclaimed, 'Oh, spare me! spare me! You know, you _know_ it to
     be false.' Having given utterance to this despairing language,
     he sunk into a state of apparent insensibility, in which state
     he continued for twelve hours, and then expired without moving a
     limb, or even uttering a moan. Thus terminated the mortal career
     of one of the greatest poets that ever consecrated the powers
     of his mind to the cause of Christ: entering death's dark vale
     without a ray of light to cheer him in his lonely passage.

     "But shall we say that he died without faith, because he
     died without an assurance that he possessed it? Would not
     such an opinion necessarily tend to destroy our confidence
     in the sufficiency of the atonement of Christ, by making our
     final happiness depend on the peculiar frame of our mind in
     that solemn hour, when some latent physical cause may bring
     over the spirit a gloom which no human effort can dispel? If
     we _trust_ in Christ, we shall be saved; and though we may
     sometimes doubt the genuine nature of our act of faith, yet
     that circumstance will not endanger either our present safety
     or our future blessedness. Indeed, I have known some most
     exemplary Christians, who have trembled to speak with confidence
     of attaining the recompense of reward. Removed at an equal
     distance from the dread of perishing and an _assurance_ of being
     saved, they have been enabled to cherish and display those
     dispositions and principles which have satisfied their judgment
     of their safety, without affording an entire relief to all their
     anxieties.

     "But though, my dear Louisa, an assurance of your interest in
     Christ is not essential to your salvation, yet it is essential
     to your happiness. You cannot doubt it, without feeling a deep
     pang; and if you should habitually doubt it, you will live in a
     state of perpetual dejection. I urge you, then, to attain it in
     the spring-time of your experience; or you may accustom yourself
     to feel more inclined to cherish, than to expel despondency.
     'Wherefore,' says the apostle, 'give all diligence to make
     your calling and election sure.' And that you may attain this
     assurance of hope, which will be as an anchor of the soul
     during the perils and conflicts of time, look up, by faith and
     prayer, to the invisible Source of all consolation and joy; ever
     remembering that 'the Spirit itself beareth witness with our
     spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then
     heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ' (Rom. viii. 16,
     17). This witnessing testimony is as necessary to superinduce
     this assurance, as the precious blood of Christ is necessary to
     remove the guilt of sin. Never forget this.

     "And if you should not immediately attain a full assurance
     of your interest in Christ, do not suffer your mind to be
     overwhelmed with anxiety; as this is an attainment which belongs
     to the more advanced Christian, rather than to the young
     disciple. It will not come at once by an overpowering force,
     driving away every gloomy fear, and throwing open before you
     a clear prospect of a blissful immortality, but gradually, at
     intermitting seasons, weakening the strength of your doubts, and
     strengthening the weakness of your faith; till at length the God
     of hope will fill you with all joy and peace in believing. I was
     much struck with a paragraph in a devotional treatise which I
     recently perused, and which I here quote--'Great consolation
     is often received at different seasons, even during the period
     when our general feelings are intermingled with dark and painful
     forebodings. Hence, the weakest believer sometimes returns from
     the closet, and from the sanctuary, strong in faith, though he
     may again relapse into his more stated frame of despondency.
     The clouds occasionally separate, to enable him to view the Sun
     of Righteousness, and feel the healing virtue of his presence,
     though they may again unite to obscure his vision, and leave him
     to grope on his 'darkling way.' These intermitting seasons of
     darkness and light, of high enjoyment and deep dejection, have
     a salutary effect, and serve to prepare him for that state of
     settled assurance, which, in fact, they tend in some measure to
     produce.'

     "As I have so far exceeded the ordinary bounds of a letter, I
     shall not enter on the other very important questions to which
     you refer in your last; but will do it at some future period.
     It gives us great pleasure to hear that you have such an
     excellent minister near you, and though he preaches in a chapel
     which does not belong to our Establishment, yet, if he preach
     Christ and him crucified, I have no doubt you will enjoy his
     labours. The feet of the messenger that publisheth peace, are
     no less beautiful on the mountains, than in the city; and his
     proclamation is as interesting to the self-condemned sinner,
     when delivered in the unconsecrated chapel, as in the majestic
     cathedral; and though we may retain our partialities to forms
     and places, yet, if we ever suffer our prejudices to deprive us
     of our spiritual privileges, we shall be guilty of a suicidal
     act against both our peace and steadfastness in the faith.

     "The account which you have given me of your sisters has
     awakened an opposite class of feelings in my breast. Emma, I
     fear, is under some fatal influence which you have not yet
     detected, and will, unless subdued by the loving-kindness of God
     our Saviour, devote herself to the pleasures of the world. Her
     beauty has made her vain, and the versatility of her talents
     is a snare to her. You must watch over her with great care,
     and pray that He who called _you_ out of darkness into his
     marvellous light, would be pleased to renew her in the spirit of
     her mind. Jane is a lovely girl. She has an elegant mind, and if
     the good work is begun in her heart, she will be an interesting
     companion to you. Let me hear from you as soon as you can spare
     a few moments from your numerous engagements, and believe me,
     yours affectionately,

     E. LOADER."



FAMILY SKETCHES.


In a large family we often find that some of the children discover
a peculiar aversion to the religious habits which prevail amongst
them. Though the primary cause of this hostility may be traced
up to the depravity of our nature, yet we ought not to overlook
the secondary causes which may have contributed to its growth and
manifestation. For though there is an innate propensity to evil
in the heart, and though that propensity is much stronger in some
than in others, yet it rarely breaks through the barriers which a
judicious course of instruction throws up, unless it is brought into
contact with strong temptations, which _might_ have been guarded
against. Hence most pious parents, when mourning over the impiety
of their children, have to reproach themselves for some omissions
or compliances which have directly or indirectly tended to produce
the evil, and which very naturally lead to a fatal indifference
or open hostility to the claims of religion, which no subsequent
remonstrances are able to correct or control.

This was the case in the family of the Holmes. Miss Emma was a
beautiful girl. Her manners were exceedingly graceful. She was
witty and satirical in her disposition, and from her childhood gave
unequivocal proofs that she required more than ordinary attention
in the cultivation of her mind and the formation of her character.
From the superior vivacity of her spirits, the playfulness of
her fancy, and her intellectual acuteness, she gained a powerful
ascendency over the affections of her parents, who, trusting too
much to the maturity of her judgment for the correction of budding
ills, paid less regard to the formation of her habits than they had
done with their other children. The partiality for dress, which she
discovered when a child, increased as she grew up, till at length
she lavished nearly the whole of her attention on her external
appearance. After having spent a few years in the establishment
where her elder sisters had finished their education, she was
sent, at the age of sixteen, to a fashionable boarding-school,
in which too much attention was paid to mere personal graces and
accomplishments. It was here that she formed an intimacy with the
daughter of Colonel Orme, who resided near the Elms, and which
proved a source of poignant sorrow to all the members of her family.
After leaving school, she was permitted by her unsuspecting parents
to exchange visits with her young friend, who was, by the influence
of her sentiments and example, gradually destroying that reverence
for the authority of religion, and that attachment to its practices,
which they were so anxious to cherish and to strengthen. Miss Holmes
saw with deep regret the fatal bias which her sister's mind was
receiving; and though she availed herself of every opportunity which
circumstances offered to check and subdue it, yet she constantly met
with determined resistance.

"Indeed," said Emma, after her sister had been urging her to return
some novels which her friend had sent for her perusal, "I shall not
do it till I have read them. They are amusing and interesting; and
if they contain any objectionable sentiments, I can easily reject
them."

"Yes, they may amuse and may interest, but they will not improve
your mind. They will give you false views of nature and the
world--imperceptibly reconcile you to sentiments and opinions at
which you would now shudder--induce such a love for the marvellous
and romantic that you will be dissatisfied with the dull uniformity
of life, and destroy all the religious impressions which our dear
parents have been so anxious to produce."

"When I feel the injury to which you allude I will give them up, but
till then you must permit me to follow my own inclination without
control. I am old enough to judge for myself."

Whether the varieties which are apparent in the human character are
to be traced up to the different methods employed in its formation,
or to some inherent peculiarity in the constitution of the mind, is
a much vexed question amongst philosophers. Education and example no
doubt exercise a most material influence, but they do not operate in
a uniform manner, as we have known the most opposite characters rise
out of the same family. To account for this, unless on the principle
that there is some inherent propensity in our nature, which gives
to each person an individuality of character, would be extremely
difficult, if not impossible, as we should naturally expect a
uniformity of result where the same means are taken to secure it,
unless there be some latent cause by which this is prevented. Hence
some of the most improved systems of education make provision
for a difference in the style of instruction, and in the mode of
treatment, to accord with the natural temper and inclination of the
pupil; supposing, that by such a judicious arrangement, his moral
and intellectual improvement may be more effectually advanced.

But how often does even this method fail of accomplishing its
intended effect; as we see the children of a large family
discovering a diversity in their taste--their disposition--and their
habits--no less striking than they would have done, if no wisdom
or discretion had been employed in their cultivation. Meekness
and irritability--an affable demeanour, and a proud hauteur--a
placidness and tenderness of disposition, and a violence and
resentment of spirit--a love of display, and a native modesty which
withdraws from public notice--a passion for some individual pursuit,
and a restlessness which no object can fix--are the moral lights and
shadows which often fall on the members of the same family, giving
that variety of hue and tinge which we discover in the aspect of the
natural world.

Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, in their plan of domestic government,
endeavoured to do three things--to attach their children to their
own home; to encourage them to repose unlimited confidence in
their parents; and to train them to cultivate pure and ardent love
for each other. By the adoption of these maxims, they displayed
their good sense and parental regard; as it is uniformly found,
that when a child outgrows his love for his father's house, he has
lost the sheet-anchor of his safety; that if he have not free and
unrestricted access to his parents, he will become suspicious of,
and estranged from them; and that if he feel no peculiar pleasure in
the society and interest in the welfare of the other branches of the
family, he will cherish a jealous and envious disposition, not more
destructive of their happiness than of his own.

When speaking of the excellencies which so finely budded on the
opening character of some of their children, they often expressed
their regret at the unpromising appearances of others; yet indulged
the hope that they would outgrow their "flaws unseemly," and
ultimately display, not only the strength of reason, but the beauty
of virtue. As they advanced from childhood to youth, and from
youth to riper years, they gradually developed the peculiarities
of their tempers and dispositions, which were so dissimilar, that
no uniform mode of discipline could be adopted with any chance
of proving beneficial. Mr. Holmes was too much occupied in his
commercial affairs, to pay any great attention to his children
while they were young, and, therefore, the chief responsibility
of their education devolved on their mother, who, feeling anxious
to discharge the trust reposed in her, availed herself of all the
information which she could acquire. The following paragraph,
which she met with in a favourite author, gave her an insight into
the art of a judicious management. It inspired her with a good
hope respecting those who appeared the most unpromising, because
the most untractable:--"A discriminating teacher will appreciate
the individual character of each pupil, in order to appropriate
her management. We must strengthen the feeble, while we repel the
bold. We cannot educate by a _receipt_: for after studying the best
rules, and after digesting them into the best system, much must
depend on contingent circumstances; for that which is good may
be inapplicable. The cultivator of the human mind must, like the
gardener, study diversities of soil, or he may plant diligently,
and water faithfully, with little fruit. The skilful labourer knows
that, even when the surface is not particularly promising, there is
often a rough, strong ground, which will amply repay the trouble of
breaking it up; yet we are often most taken with a soft surface,
though it conceal a shallow depth, because it promises present
reward and little trouble. But strong and pertinacious tempers,
of which, perhaps, obstinacy is the leading vice, under skilful
management, often turn out steady and sterling characters; while,
from softer clay, a firm and vigorous virtue is but seldom produced.
Pertinacity is often principle, which wants nothing but to be led
to its true object; while the uniformly yielding, and universally
accommodating spirit, is not seldom the result of a feeble tone of
morals, of a temper eager for praise, and acting for reward."

It is often remarked, that children are men and women in
miniature; and as they grow up to their full stature, we often
see them exhibiting, in broader and more palpable development,
the excellencies and defects of their juvenile character; but
when they are subjected to the operation of extraordinary causes,
they sometimes undergo an entire transformation, and become new
creatures. The most hopeless turn out the most valuable--those who
have inflicted the most pungent sorrow ultimately become the source
of the purest delight--the prematurely promising have faded in the
spring-time vigour of their virtue--and those who have been endowed
with the greatest talents have brought down the gray hairs of their
parents with sorrow to the grave.

The eldest sons of this family, William and Edward, who succeeded
to the business when the father retired, had turned out everything
their parents could wish, but presented no prominent traits of
character, beyond that of well-conducted, pious young men. The
youngest son, John, who was devoted to the medical profession,
possessed more adroitness and vivacity than his brothers; but either
from the laxity of parental control, or the peculiar connections
which his pursuits in life led him to form, he disappointed the high
expectations which he had raised, and eventually became the source
of domestic grief. He was greatly attached to his sister Emma, whom
he most nearly resembled, not only in person, but in disposition;
and having imbibed sceptical notions on religious subjects, soon
after he commenced his professional studies, he infused them into
her mind, and thus did her great injury. There was an unobtrusive
modesty about Jane, which naturally induced her to retire from
public notice, and rendered her fully appreciated only by her more
intimate friends; while Emma's good qualities were unfortunately,
to a great extent, obscured by her inordinate vanity and desire of
admiration. The love of dress, as already mentioned, early took
possession of her mind, and her parents injudiciously nourished this
passion, by allowing her to do as she pleased in this respect, not
conceiving that by such a compliance she would sustain any moral
injury. But they lived to see and deplore their error.

"It is a just remark," says an excellent writer, "that objects
in their own nature innocent, and entitled to notice, may become
the sources of disadvantage and of guilt; when, being raised from
the rank of trifles to ideal importance, they occupy a share of
attention which they do not deserve; and then they are pursued
with an immoderate ardour, which at once indisposes the mind
to occupations of higher concern, and clouds it with malignant
emotions." Perhaps there is no subject which will more strikingly
illustrate the correctness of this remark, than that passion for
fashionable attire by which some are enslaved. "If, in addition
to that reasonable degree of regard to propriety of dress, which
insures the strictest neatness, and a modest conformity, in
unobjectionable points, to the authority of custom, a young woman
permits her thoughts to be frequently engaged by the subject of
exterior ornaments, occupations of moment will be proportionably
neglected. From the complacency natural to all human beings, when
employed in contemplating objects by means of which the flattering
hope of shining is presented to them, she will be in the most
imminent danger of contracting a distaste to serious reflection,
and of being at length absorbed in the delusions of vanity and
self-love. It is, undoubtedly, a matter of indifference, whether a
lady's ribands be green or blue; whether her head be decorated with
flowers or with feathers; whether her gown be composed of muslin
or of silk. But it is no matter of indifference, whether the time
which she devotes to the determination of any of these points is
to be reckoned by hours or by minutes; or whether, on discovering
the elevation of her bonnet to be an inch higher or lower, and
its tint a shade lighter or darker, than the model which prevails
among her acquaintance, she is overwhelmed with consternation and
disappointment, or bears the calamity with the apathy of a stoic."

The love of dress, like every other improper affection, has a
material influence over the formation of the character; and though
it operates by a silent process, yet it is invariably found to have
a pernicious tendency. It induces habits of expenditure, which are
often beyond the resources of the individual; saps the foundation
of morals, and involves in inextricable difficulties. Bills are
left unpaid, and every excuse and apology which ingenuity and
artifice can devise, is employed to silence the remonstrances of the
creditor--whom the debtor avoids with an instinctive dread, no less
sensitive than the child does the place supposed to be haunted by an
evil spirit.

But, if the resources are sufficient to satisfy the demands of
justice, has benevolence no claim on the female sex? "The fact
is, that an unguarded fondness for ornament has been known, in
a multitude of examples, to overpower the natural tenderness of
the female mind, and to prevent the growth and establishment of
dispositions pronounced in the gospel to be indispensably requisite
to the Christian character. If the purse be generally kept low by
the demands of milliners, of mantua-makers, dealers in trinkets, and
of others who bear their part in adorning the person, little can be
allotted to the applications of charity. But charity requires, in
common with other virtues, the fostering influence of habit. If the
custom of devoting an adequate portion of the income to the relief
of distress be long intermitted, the desire of giving relief will
gradually be impaired. The heart forgets, by disuse, the emotions in
which it once delighted. The ear turns from solicitations now become
unwelcome. In proportion as the wants and the griefs of others are
disregarded, the spirit of selfishness strikes deeper and stronger
roots in the breast. Let the generous exertions of kindness be
tempered with discretion: but let a disposition to those exertions
be encouraged on principles of duty; and confirmed, in proportion
to the ability of the individual, by frequency of practice. Before
the world has repressed, by its interested lessons, the warmth of
youthful benevolence, let experience establish a conviction that
the greatest of all pleasures is to do good. She who has accustomed
herself to this delight, will not easily be induced to forego it.
She will feel, that whatever she is able, without penuriousness
or improper singularity, to withdraw from the expense of personal
ornament, is not only reserved for much higher purposes, but for
purposes productive of exquisite and permanent gratification.

"Another, and a very important benefit which results from fixed
habits of moderation as to dress, and all points of a similar
nature, will be clearly discerned by adverting to the irreparable
evils into which young women are sometimes plunged by the contrary
practice. The lavish indulgence in which they have learned to seek
for happiness, becoming, in their estimation, essential to their
comfort, is able to bias their conduct in every important step.
Hence, in forming matrimonial connections, it exercises perhaps a
secret, but a very powerful influence. The prospect of wealth and
magnificence, of the continuance and of the increase of pleasures
supposed to flow from the pomp of dress and equipage, from sumptuous
mansions, showy furniture, and numerous attendants, dazzles the
judgment, imposes on the affections, conceals many defects in moral
character, and compensates for others. It frequently proves the
decisive circumstance which leads the deluded victim to the altar,
there to consign herself to splendid misery for life.

"There are yet other consequences which attend an immoderate passion
for the embellishments of dress. When the mind is fixed upon objects
which derive their chief value from administering to vanity and the
love of admiration, the aversion, which almost every individual of
either sex is prone to feel towards a rival, is particularly called
forth. And when objects attainable so easily as exterior ornaments
occupy the heart, there will be rivals without number. Hence, it is
not uncommon to see neighbouring young women engaged in a constant
state of petty warfare with each other. To vie in ostentatiousness,
in costliness, or in elegance of apparel--to be distinguished by
novel inventions in personal decoration--to gain the earliest
intelligence respecting changes of fashion in the metropolis--to
detect, in the attire of a luckless competitor, traces of a mode
which for six weeks has been obsolete in high life--these frequently
are the points of excellence to which the force of female genius is
directed. In the meantime, while the mask of friendship is worn,
and the language of regard is on the tongue, indifference, disgust,
and envy are gradually taking possession of the breast; until, at
length, the unworthy contest, prolonged for years under habits
of dissimilation, by which neither of the parties are deceived,
terminates in the violence of an open rupture.

"The Scriptures have spoken so plainly and so strongly respecting
solicitude about dress, that I cannot quit the subject without a
special reference to their authority. Our Saviour, in one of his
most solemn discourses, warns his followers against anxiety as to
'wherewithal they should be clothed,' in a manner particularly
emphatic, classing that anxiety with the despicable pursuits
of those who are studious 'what they shall eat, and what they
shall drink;' and by pronouncing all such cares to be among the
characteristics by which the heathens were distinguished. It
ought to be observed, that these admonitions of Christ respect men
no less than women. The apostle Paul speaks pointedly concerning
female dress, saying--'I will, in like manner also, that women adorn
themselves in modest apparel, with shame-facedness and sobriety:
not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but,
which becometh women professing godliness, with good works.' In
another passage, St. Peter also speaks expressly of the female
sex: and primarily of married women, but in terms applicable with
equal propriety to the single--'Whose adorning, let it not be that
outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing of gold, and of
putting on of apparel. But let it be the hidden man of the heart'
(the inward frame and disposition of the mind), 'in that which is
not corruptible; even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,
which is in the sight of God of great price.' It would be too much
to assert, on the one hand, that it was the intention of either
of the apostles, in giving these directions, to proscribe the use
of the particular kinds of personal ornament which he specifies;
but, on the other hand, it was unquestionably the design of both,
to proscribe whatever may justly be styled solicitude respecting
any kind of personal decoration; and to censure those who, instead
of resting their claim to approbation solely on the tempers of the
soul, in any degree, should ambitiously seek to be noticed and
praised for exterior embellishments, as deviating precisely in
that degree from the simplicity and the purity of the Christian
character."

The young ladies of the Holmes family, were allowed a stated income
to meet their current expenditure, besides receiving occasional
presents. One custom prevailed in this family, which the writer
hopes will never become extinct amongst us, as it belongs so
appropriately to the English character. The birthdays, especially
those of the parents, were duly celebrated, and an interchange of
presents made between the members of the family. On the occasion
of the recurrence of Mr. Holmes' birthday, which took place a few
weeks after the party referred to in the foregoing chapter, the
usual compliment of presents was made in the morning; and in the
afternoon, after the old gentleman's health, and many happy returns
of the day, had been drunk with due honours, he presented to each of
his daughters an envelope, containing a bank note for £20.

In the evening, as the young ladies were taking their walk, their
conversation turned on the unexpected liberality of their father,
when Emma asked her sisters what they intended to purchase.

"I intend," said Jane, "to purchase my freedom."

"Your freedom, my dear!" said the facetious Emma; "I did not know
that you were in bondage to any man; but if you are, surely you do
not think of offering to pay him for your liberty?"

"I am not," replied Jane, "in bondage to _any man_."

"No! To whom then?"

"To woman kind!"

"Woman! What! Woman enslave her own sex!"

"Even so."

"What woman are you in bondage to?"

"The mantua-maker! Here are the fetters of my captivity (exhibiting
the undischarged bills), which I will now go and break asunder, and
hope never more to wear them."

"You are to be commended, my dear," said Miss Holmes, "and I hope
Emma will follow your example; for, with our liberal allowance, and
the presents we receive, we ought to have something to spare to the
claims of religion and benevolence, rather than have the disgrace of
unpaid bills lying in our drawers."

"Indeed," Emma replied, "I think Papa gives away quite enough
to purchase our redemption from the taxes of charity. When I am
settled in life, it is my intention to appropriate a regular sum to
charitable purposes, but now I cannot afford it. We must be just
before we are generous."

"On that maxim I shall act," said Jane; "I will discharge my debts
as an act of justice, and then I shall have it in my power to be
generous to the poor and needy."

"I have no doubt, Emma," remarked Miss Holmes, "that you are
sincere in your proposed intentions respecting your future
charities; but I suspect, if you go upon the principle of waiting
till you are rich, you will never have anything to give. You must
know, dear Emma, if you reflect on the subject, that you are
now forming your habits for life--giving to your principles and
propensities a fixed and changeless tendency; and is it not of great
importance that you should begin now to cultivate the virtues of
charity and self-denial?"

"It may be so, but there is no rule without an exception; and as
your habits and mine, dear sister, are so dissimilar, you cannot
expect that I can follow your example in all things."

"Then, my dear, follow the example of Jane, and you will feel more
at ease; and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that those
you are indebted to are not distressed by the want of the money you
owe them."

"Indeed, I am at ease. They charge enough, for the few articles I
purchase, to allow me to take a long credit."

"That is very true. They charge in proportion to the length of
credit they give; and hence, you pay such an exorbitant price for
your dress. You impoverish yourself by the very method you employ in
expending your money; and never have the satisfaction of being free
from the pressing claims of dress-makers and milliners. Thus you
deny yourself the noble gratification of relieving the necessities
of others; for when an appeal is made to your benevolence, you are
obliged to resist it, because you have previously exhausted your
resources."

"You reason admirably, dear sister, and I shall not forget your
observations; but I must get a new dress, as I have worn my old one
so long. I will spare something out of the next present Papa gives
me. I hope this will satisfy you, as you know I always keep my word."

It is, generally, in the more private occurrences of domestic life,
that the peculiarities of the human mind are developed; and events,
trivial in themselves, often acquire a degree of importance from
the indications of character which they exhibit. The bestowment
of a birthday present, was an expression of paternal regard, but
what different dispositions and tendencies did it call forth, and
what a different moral effect did it produce!--Miss Holmes devoted
a portion of her present to the claims of charity and religion, and
with part of the remainder, she purchased a silver snuff-box, which
she presented to her father, with a few appropriate verses. Jane,
who had been enticed into extravagance by following the example of
her sister Emma, went and discharged her debts; while Emma, after
ordering her dress, and paying a sum towards her previous account,
took a fancy to a beautiful shawl, and ordered it to be sent to the
Elms, and in this way got deeper in debt than she had been before.



AMUSEMENTS.


Miss Orme, the friend of Emma Holmes, accepted an invitation to
spend a few weeks at the Elms, and being aware of the religious
habits of the family, she resolved to conform to them with the
most scrupulous exactness. When she played, she generally selected
sacred music, as a compliment to the taste of her pious friends; and
even condescended to accompany them to chapel, though she avowed
her decided preference for the forms and ceremonies of the Church.
She was naturally of a very pliable disposition, and had she been
under a different course of moral training, she might have devoted
her attention to the claims of religion; but being surrounded by
the fascinations of gay life, and taught to regard the pursuit of
pleasure as the chief end of her existence, she became one of the
most zealous devotees that ever bowed down at the shrine of fashion.
She possessed an intelligent mind; but the books she read, and
the subjects on which she generally conversed, had a tendency to
impair its strength, and to keep it from ranging in the field of
useful knowledge. She was rather shrewd, and would sometimes make a
reply, or give a turn to an observation with considerable effect;
but her resources were soon exhausted, and she would fall back into
a state of ennui, unless the conversation related to the fashions
or the amusements of the day, and then she would speak with great
fluency and animation. In her disposition, she was so good-natured
and amiable, that she would bear reproof with the utmost degree of
mildness, but never thought of amending her ways; would acknowledge
herself in the wrong, when it was pointed out to her, yet persisted
in its practice; and often confessed that she had no doubt but
a religious life was most acceptable to our Maker, yet as often
expressed her astonishment that any young person could think of
becoming religious.

As Mr. Holmes could not conscientiously suffer his daughters to
attend any of the public amusements to which society devotes such a
considerable portion of its time, he endeavoured to compensate for
the loss of such sources of gratification, by making them happy in
their home; and by treating them with occasional excursions, where
they might enjoy a change of air and of scenery, without running the
risk of sustaining any moral injury. To gratify her friend, Emma had
persuaded her father to take them to Windsor, where they were to
spend one night, and return the following day; but there had been
so much rain in the early part of the morning, and it continued to
descend in such torrents, that they were obliged to postpone their
visit. This disappointment was borne with great cheerfulness by all
but Miss Orme, who felt it to be a most irksome burden, and said
more than once during the day, "What a misfortune that Providence
should allow it to rain to-day, when, I suppose, he knew we were
going to Windsor!"

"Why, perhaps," said Mr. Holmes, "he has sent the rain to prevent
some calamitous accident."

"Dear Sir, do you think he ever pays any attention to us, and such
little things as a pleasure excursion?"

"Yes, most certainly. Our Saviour says--'Are not two sparrows sold
for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall to the ground without
your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.'"

"Then of course it is so, but it never struck me before. I always
thought that God looked after other worlds and their inhabitants,
and that he left us to our fate."

"You forget the first petition in the Lord's Prayer--'_Our Father_,
who art in heaven.' A kind father--and God is love--pays great
attention to his children."

"Exactly so, Sir, but it never struck me before."

As she was sauntering up and down the house, leaning on the arm of
Emma, bitterly deploring the continued descent of the rain, which
precluded the hope of their getting out of doors, she broke in upon
Miss Holmes, busily engaged in finishing a dress for a poor woman,
who was daily expecting the birth of her firstborn.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Holmes, for this act of intrusion. We are
sauntering away dull time."

"Walk in, and I will give you some employment."

"Indeed, I am not fit for work. This is one of the dullest days
of my life. I wish the rain was over and gone. Is it not a great
misfortune that it should come to-day?"

"Perhaps, my dear Miss Orme, it is sent by our heavenly Father to
prevent some greater misfortune."

"That's what your Papa has just been telling us. What a striking
coincidence between his sentiments and yours! They are new ideas to
me. Very devout and proper."

"Sister is Papa's living echo," remarked Emma.

"As you two idlers," said Miss Holmes, "have nothing to do but
saunter away time, perhaps (addressing Miss Orme) you would have no
objection to read, it may prove a little relief to your dulness."

There were several books lying on the table, which she carelessly
examined and closed, when Emma said, "Here is one which you have
not seen." She took it, read the title--_An Inquiry into the Duties
of the Female Sex_. "A learned dissertation, I have no doubt, on
woman. I wonder what he says. He has, I see, a chapter on the
employment of time; shall I read that, Miss Holmes?"

"If you please."

"Time is a sacred trust consigned to us by the Creator of the
universe. To use it well is a lesson which duty and reason concur
to suggest. The duration of the period to be confided to our
management, though predetermined in the counsels of Omniscience,
is undisclosed to the individual concerned, and is placed beyond
the reach of calculation; that uncertainty respecting the future
may operate as a continual and powerful admonition wisely to employ
the present hour. Would you perceive the ingratitude and folly of
squandering so precious a deposit? Reflect on the gracious purposes
for the accomplishment of which it is committed to you. Reflect how
plainly incompatible a habit of squandering it is, with the frame
of mind which is the fruit of Christianity. Reflect on the infinite
importance which you will hereafter attach to time past, when the
consequences flowing from the right or wrong use of it, will be
discerned and felt by you in their full extent."

"This is too grave a subject for me," said Miss Orme. "It will just
add to the load of melancholy on my mind, which is already oppressed
beyond endurance by the horrid gloom of the weather. I am fond of
reading, but I prefer the lighter productions of the press." She
closed the book and was taking up another, when Miss Holmes said,
"You will oblige me by reading another paragraph in that chapter,
which may prove advantageous to you, even though it may not exactly
accord with your present taste."

"Certainly, if you wish it."

"To every woman, whether single or married, the habit of regularly
allotting to improving books a portion of each day, and, as far
as may be practicable, at stated hours, cannot be too strongly
recommended. I use the term _improving_ in a large sense; as
comprehending all writings which may contribute to her virtue,
her usefulness, and her innocent gratification--to her happiness
in this world and in the next. She who believes that she is to
survive in another state of being through eternity, and is duly
impressed by the awful conviction, will fix, day by day, her most
serious thoughts on the inheritance to which she aspires. Where the
treasure is, there will her heart be also. She will not be seduced
from an habitual study of the Holy Scriptures, and of other works
calculated to imprint on her mind the comparatively small importance
of the pains and pleasures of this period of existence; and to
fill her with that knowledge, and inspire her with those views and
dispositions, which may lead her to delight in the present service
of her Maker, and enable her to rejoice in the contemplation of
futurity. At other seasons, let history, let biography, let poetry,
or some of the various branches of elegant and profitable knowledge,
pay their tribute of instruction and amusement. But let whatever
she peruses in her most private hours be such as she needs not to
be ashamed of reading aloud to those whose good opinion she is most
anxious to deserve. Let her remember that there is an all-seeing
eye, which is ever fixed upon her, even in her closest retirement.
Let her not indulge herself in the frequent perusal of writings,
however interesting in their nature, however eminent in a literary
point of view, which are likely to inflame pride, and to inspire
false notions of generosity, of feeling, of spirit, or of any other
quality. Such, unhappily, are the effects to be apprehended from
the works even of several of our distinguished writers, in prose
and in verse. And let her accustom herself regularly to bring the
sentiments which she reads, and the conduct which is described in
terms, more or less strong, of applause and recommendation, to the
test of Christian principles. In proportion as this practice is
pursued or neglected, reading will be profitable or pernicious."

"Now, really, my dear Miss Holmes," said Miss Orme, stopping short,
"I cannot go on with such reading. Have you nothing in the shape
of a novel? I can take an interest in _that_. You object to such
compositions, I believe?"

"Yes."

"But why, when they display so much ingenuity, are so delightful,
and have such a good moral tendency?"

"I cannot reply to your present remark in more forcible language
than the writer has done, whose book you hold in your hand, and if
you will permit me I will read an extract."

"Very well," replied Miss Orme, with a yawn.

"Works of this nature not unfrequently deserve the praise of
ingenuity of plan and contrivance, of accurate and well-supported
discrimination of character, and of force and elegance of language.
Some of them have professedly been composed with a design to favour
the interests of morality. And among those which are deemed to
have, on the whole, a moral tendency, a very few, perhaps, might
be selected, which are not liable to the disgraceful charge of
being occasionally contaminated by incidents and passions unfit
to be represented to the reader. This charge, however, may so
very generally be alleged with justice, that even of the novels
which possess high and established reputation, by far the greater
number is totally improper, in consequence of such admixture, to
be perused by the eye of delicacy. Poor indeed are the services
rendered to virtue by a writer, however he may boast that the
object of his performance is to exhibit the vicious as infamous
and unhappy, who, in tracing the progress of vice to infamy and
unhappiness, introduces the readers to scenes and language adapted
to wear away the quick feelings of modesty, which form at once
the ornament and safeguard of innocence; and, like the bloom upon
a plum, if once effaced, commonly disappear for ever. To indulge
in a practice of reading novels is, in several other particulars,
liable to produce mischievous effects. Such compositions are, to
most people, extremely engaging. That story must be singularly
barren, or wretchedly told, of which, having heard the beginning, we
desire not to know the end. To the pleasure of learning the ultimate
fortunes of the heroes and heroines of the tale, the novel commonly
adds, in a greater or less degree, that which arises from animated
description, from lively dialogue, or from interesting sentiment.
Hence, the perusal of one publication of this class leads, with much
more frequency than is the case with respect to works of other kinds
(except, perhaps, of dramatic writings, to which most of the present
remarks may be transferred), to the speedy perusal of another.
Thus a habit is formed--a habit at first, perhaps, of limited
indulgence--but a habit that is continually found more formidable
and more encroaching. The appetite becomes too keen to be denied;
and in proportion as it is more urgent, grows less nice and select
in its fare. What would formerly have given offence now gives none.
The palate is vitiated or made dull. The produce of the book-club,
and the contents of the circulating library, are devoured with
indiscriminate and insatiable avidity. Hence, the mind is secretly
corrupted. Let it be observed too, that in exact correspondence
with the increase of a passion for reading novels, an aversion to
reading of a more improving nature will gather strength. Even in
the class of novels least objectionable in point of delicacy, false
sentiment unfitting the mind for sober life, applause and censure
distributed amiss, morality estimated by an erroneous standard, and
the capricious laws and empty sanctions of honour set up in the
place of religion, are the lessons usually presented. There is yet
another consequence too important to be overlooked. The catastrophe
and the incidents of these fictitious narratives commonly turn on
the vicissitudes and effects of a passion, the most powerful which
agitates the human heart. Hence, the study of them frequently
creates a susceptibility of impression, and a premature warmth of
tender emotions, which, not to speak of other possible effects, have
been known to betray young women into a sudden attachment to persons
unworthy of their affection, and thus to hurry them into marriages
terminating in unhappiness."

"He reasons excellently well against such books; but to be candid,
dear Miss Holmes, and I know you idolize candour, I must confess I
am rather partial to them. They serve to beguile away the tedious
hours of unoccupied time, and remove us to an enchanted land where
we forget the mortifications of life. Then they often enable us to
get through a day with tolerable composure, when we are prevented
taking our walks or drives abroad. And what a relief do they afford
us when indisposed! Indeed, I don't know what I should do, if I were
interdicted from such a source of exquisite gratification."

"I have no doubt but such reading affords you gratification, and
enables you to get through the tedious hours of time with some
degree of patience; but is it profitable? Does it enlarge and
strengthen the intellectual faculty, or extend the boundary of our
practical knowledge? Does it refine the _moral_ taste, or call into
action the best feelings of our nature? Does it tend to prepare us
for our final destiny, as candidates for immortality?"

"Well, I don't know. Then, as you object to the novel, I presume you
are equally averse to the card-table?"

"I am."

"But why, when it affords so much gratification?"

"Because it often gives rise to a passion for gaming, which has
brought many to ruin."

"Well, I will admit, that it does sometimes lead to such a fatal
issue; but I will suppose a case which frequently occurs in social
life. A virtuous family receives a visit from a few select friends;
and in the evening the card-tables are brought out, and they divide
themselves into small parties, and play a few games for their own
amusement, without risking more than a few shillings. Now, what evil
can result from such a method of passing away the evening?"

"In the first place, there is a great sacrifice of time, without any
adequate compensation. If the time thus devoted to an unprofitable
amusement were employed in instructive conversation, some moral
benefit would result from it. Then important and interesting
questions might be discussed and answered--the events of the day
would pass under review--enlivening anecdotes might be told--and
every one would have an opportunity of displaying and increasing the
resources of his mind."

"But, begging pardon for interrupting you, does not the
introduction of cards, by occupying the attention of a party,
prevent the conversation from degenerating into gossip and scandal?
This advantage you have overlooked, but I have no doubt, on
reflection, you will admit it to be a very important one."

"Why not, dear Miss Orme, allow a sense of honour and strict
integrity to impose restraint on the tongue of scandal, without
requiring the charm of the card-table to do it? This principle, when
inwrought in the mind, will be always present, and vigilant in the
exercise of its restraining power; but you cannot always have the
card-table with you. But now to advert to the hypothetical case of
the virtuous family receiving a visit from a few select friends.
I admit, that they may sustain no positive injury, either moral
or social, by spending the evening together in such a way; but if
we advert to some facts which have come within our own knowledge,
we must admit, that some of the party may sustain great, if not
irreparable injury. I know a lady who never touched a pack of
cards till after her marriage, but as soon as she did touch them,
she became passionately fond of them. She first played with her
husband--then a few select friends were invited to the game--then
larger parties thronged her drawing-room--till at length, the
passion became so inveterate in its influence over her, that she
neglected all her domestic duties, involved her husband in pecuniary
embarrassments by the sums she lost; and eventually abandoned her
home and children, with a worthless wretch, who, after degrading
her, threw her off on the merciless contempt of the world! In a
conversation which I lately had with her, when endeavouring to
point her to Him who came to save sinners (for she is now in the
last stage of a decline), she owned that her ruin was owing to her
passion for cards, which became so strong that she was unable to
control it."

"This is a most painful case," observed Miss Orme: "happily an
extreme one!"

"I admit this; but there is no disputing this fact, that
card-playing very frequently kindles in the female breast, no less
than in the breast of the other sex, a passion for gaming. Yes, many
a husband would have been saved from ruin, if his wife had employed
that influence to subdue his passion for the card-table, which she
has employed to keep it alive and vigorous. She has lived to deplore
the evil, when it has become irreparable."

"Both the novel and the card-table," remarked Emma, "are the
forbidden fruit of our Eden."

"I have no doubt, my dear," replied Miss Orme, "that your parents
act conscientiously in prohibiting novels and cards; but you know
that religious people, in general, do so: though I have known some
rather conspicuous professors who have not objected to play a game
at whist after family prayer in the evening."

"Yes, and so have I. I was on a visit at Mr. Ridout's, some few
months since, when the card-table was brought out for our amusement;
and I don't know when I have spent a more pleasant evening."

"And who is Mr. Ridout, my dear? Is he a pious man, or does he
belong to the world?"

"He professes to be a pious man; and I should suppose he is one, for
he has prayer in his family morning and evening."

"Had he family prayer, the evening you refer to, _before_ or _after_
the games were introduced?"

"O! it was omitted that evening."

"And why, Emma," here interposed Miss Holmes, "was it omitted? Was
it not because he was ashamed to place the Bible on the same table
with the cards; and because, after enticing others to a conformity
to the customs of the world, he could not, in their presence, go and
pray, that they might be renewed in the spirit of their mind? Do you
recollect the remark which you made on your return home?"

"It has escaped my recollection."

"That he wanted only one thing to finish his character."

"And did I say what that one thing was?"

"Yes; you said, and said very justly, it was consistency."

"O! I recollect, that was the opinion I then entertained."

"And have you changed your opinion? Do you not think that religious
people ought to abstain from the appearance of evil? Does your
moral sense, dear Emma, receive no offence, when you see a person,
who makes a profession of personal piety, acting like a worldling?"

"Yes, it does. I remember that droll creature, Bessie Lane, came and
whispered in my ear, just as we began a fresh game,--'Make haste,
as Mr. Ridout has just rung the bell for prayers!' This remark was
heard by all our party; and I must confess that I was hurt by some
of the observations which were made."

"I don't know," said Miss Orme, "why the most religious people may
not indulge themselves in these amusements as well as others; but
certainly we think it strange when they do so."

"I love consistency," replied Miss Holmes. "If a family have prayer,
they ought not, in my opinion, to spend the evenings in games which
certainly have not a religious tendency; and if they have these
games, they had better leave off prayer, as they cannot be prepared
for it. I knew a young friend, the daughter of pious parents, who
once had her mind very deeply impressed by a sense of the vanity
of the world and the importance of religion; but in consequence of
paying a visit to the house of a professor, who in the temple was
grave, and in the parlour gay--who alternately played and prayed,
sang songs or psalms, as fancy dictated--she lost all her pious
impressions, and from that time she became inveterately averse to
religion; and in a conversation which passed between us only a few
days since, a reference being made to it, she frankly said she could
not conquer her aversion, and she thought she never should. Example
has a powerful influence, especially in doing moral injury; but the
most pernicious and dangerous, is the example of a religious man who
acts in opposition to the obligations of his profession--who, while
he professes to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, displays a spirit
that is at variance with the sacredness of that character--and
retains his religious habits, even while he conforms to the customs
of the world."

"Well, my dear Miss Holmes, no one will impeach your consistency;
for you are, without exception, one of the most decidedly religious
I ever knew."

"Yes," said Emma, "my sister goes rather too far; and I sometimes
tell her that she is in danger of becoming a Pharisee. She sees,
or think she sees, a dangerous moral tendency in almost every
amusement; and such is the influence she possesses over the fears of
our parents, that they are kept in a state of constant terror lest I
should read a novel or dance a polka."

"And is it possible, my dear Miss Holmes, that either you or
your parents can object to dancing!--an exercise so conducive to
health--so calculated to give elegance to the form, to the walk,
and to the action--an accomplishment of so much importance, that no
female can be fit to move in polished society who has not attained
it? I believe you learned at school, dear Emma; did you not?"

"Yes; but now I am not permitted to go out to parties, which I
consider very mortifying. My parents allowed me to learn; and now
I have learned, and am fond of the amusement, they will not suffer
me to practise, except at home, where we never have any dancing
parties."

"This is sadly mortifying."

"They permitted you to learn dancing," replied her sister, "that you
might derive from it those personal accomplishments which Miss Orme
has so well described; but as they are aware of its dangerous moral
tendency, they very properly object to your going into large mixed
parties."

"Then ought they not to have refused letting me learn to dance, if
they intended to deny me the pleasure of it?[23] This is like a
father teaching his son the art of engraving, and then taking away
his tools lest he should be transported for coining."

  [23] The author knows a lady who, when young, requested her pious
  father to permit her to learn to dance. "No, my child," he replied,
  "I cannot consent to comply with a request which may subject me to
  your censures at some future period." "No, father, I will never
  censure you for complying with my request." "Nor can I consent to
  give you an opportunity. If you learn, I have no doubt but you will
  excel; and when you leave school, you may then want to go into
  company to exhibit your skill. If I then object to let you, as I
  most likely should, you would very naturally reply, Why, father,
  did you permit me to learn, if I am not permitted to practise?"
  This reply convinced her that her father acted wisely, though he
  opposed her inclination: and though she did learn, yet, not having
  his consent, she never ventured to expose herself to the dangers of
  the assembly-room; as she well knew that she could not do it without
  grieving her affectionate father. She is now become a parent; has
  often mentioned this occurrence as having had a powerful moral
  influence over her mind in her young and thoughtless days; and has
  incorporated this maxim in her system of domestic management--Never
  to comply with a request which may subject her to any future
  reflections from her children.

"You may dance for the purposes for which you were permitted to
learn; but I appeal to your good sense, if it be not an act of
kindness, on the part of our parents, in withholding their consent
from your visiting the ball-room, when they apprehend you will
sustain some moral injury?"

"But you know, dear Miss Holmes," remarked Miss Orme, "that
the chief gratification which we derive from any attainment or
accomplishment, is the opportunity of displaying it. What pleasure
would there be in learning to paint, unless we had the liberty
of exhibiting our drawings--or who would submit to the labour of
learning the notes of the gamut, if, after she has succeeded, she is
to be prohibited from playing?"

"We certainly ought to acquire the accomplishments which are
necessary to fit us to act our parts in refined society; but to
acquire them for the purpose of mere display, will be productive of
two evils: in the first place, it will injure the moral tone of our
mind; and, in the next place, it will expose us to the severe satire
of the opposite sex, who have little charity for female vanity."

"I am sure the gentlemen admire a lady who can sing well, and play
well, and dance well, and move with grace as she enters or leaves a
room."

"Yes, my dear Miss Orme; but if she have no higher accomplishments,
though she may be admired, she will not be respected; she may have
her name mentioned with _eclât_ in the circles of fashion, but she
will not be held in esteem among the wise and the good; and she may
do very well as a partner for a quadrille, but no man of sense would
think of her as his companion for life. The bee is an insect of more
value than the butterfly."

"But do you wish the assembly-rooms deserted? If so, I fear you
will never have your wishes realized. But, to come to the point,
what are the evils which you think result from such scenes of
amusement?"

"I do not expect to see such places deserted, as they hold out so
many attractions; but they are productive of so many evils, that I
consider them essentially injurious to the morals of society. There
is the expense which they incur, and the long train of evils which
often follow. What costly dresses! What a profusion of useless
ornaments must be purchased, beside the incidental items of expense
in going and returning, and paying for the admission ticket! If
the whole expense of one evening's gratification were accurately
calculated, it would astonish us. And what is the consequence of
this? The bills of tradesmen are often left undischarged--the claims
of benevolence are rejected--and a habit of useless extravagance is
formed, which extends its destructive influence to other branches
of domestic expenditure. But I have a still more serious objection
to urge against such scenes of amusement: the perilous risk which a
female often runs. She goes clad in a light attire--moves about in a
warm room--and then suddenly exposes herself, without any adequate
increase of clothing, to a cold and damp atmosphere, by which she
often sacrifices her health, and sometimes her life."

"But you know, Miss Holmes, that this objection will apply with
equal force against our attending a crowded place of worship."

"Not with equal force; because in a place of worship we remain still
during the time of service, and usually go in warmer, not to say in
more decent attire. The moral influence which such public amusements
have over the mind, is another very powerful objection against them.
By your permission I will read a paragraph from a good writer, who
expresses himself in very correct and forcible language:--'The
objects which, during the season of youth, most easily excite vanity
and envy in the female breast, are those which are presented in the
ball-room. This is deemed the stage for displaying the attractions,
by the possession of which a young woman is apt to be most elated;
and they are here displayed under circumstances most calculated to
call forth the triumph and the animosities of personal competition.
This triumph and these animosities betray themselves occasionally to
the least discerning eye. But were the recesses of the heart laid
open, how often would the sight of a stranger, of an acquaintance,
even of a friend, superior for the evening in the attractions of
dress, or enjoying the supposed advantage of having secured a
wealthier, a more lively, a more graceful, or a more fashionable
partner, be found to excite feelings of disgust and of aversion,
not always stopping short of malevolence! How often would the
passions be seen inflamed, and every nerve agitated, by a thirst for
precedence; and invention be observed labouring to mortify a rival
by the affectation of indifference or of contempt!'"

"But do you not think it possible for a female to attend a ball
without having her breast inflated with vanity, or surcharged with
envy?"

"I certainly admit that it is possible, but not probable. If she
excel others in the richness or the elegance of her dress, or if
she receive any peculiar marks of attention, will she not feel
the flush of vain-glory? And if others excel her, or receive more
marked attentions, will she not retire from the company stung with
envy? And can either of these passions be excited without producing
some demoralizing effect? If she become devoted to her personal
decoration, she will be under a strong temptation to neglect the
improvement of her mind; and while this passion enslaves and governs
her, the more amiable and lovely graces will be neglected. And if
she become envious of the superior attainments or honours of others,
she will be restless--mortified, consume her time and expend her
money in making useless efforts to equal or surpass them, and may be
induced to invent or to circulate tales of calumny to their injury."

"But you do not mean to say that these effects are invariably
produced?"

"Not invariably; because there are some females who merely visit
these places as a passing compliment to the fashion of the
age. They attend as spectators of the scene, rather than as
actors[24]--to oblige a friend, rather than gratify themselves;
and having accomplished the design of their visit, they retire
uninjured, because they felt no desire to be seen or heard, alike
indifferent whether they have been the objects of attention or have
remained unnoticed."

  [24] The author has known some professors of evangelical religion
  who have occasionally frequented these scenes of amusement; and
  though he would not condemn them as insincere in their religious
  profession, yet he cannot conceive how they can approve of their own
  conduct. If they go occasionally, others will feel at liberty to go
  habitually; and though they may go, and retire without sustaining
  any material injury to their principles, yet they know not how much
  injury their example may do to others, and especially their own
  children.

"You have stated the evils which you think often result from such
public amusements, but you have made no allusion to the advantages
which attend them; amongst which I reckon, the introduction which
they give to the best society. You know that we are confined within
the precincts of home--our duties and pursuits are of the more
retired order--and though we may take our walks, and occasionally go
to Bath or Cheltenham, or some other fashionable resort, yet, if it
were not for these public amusements, we should have no opportunity
of being introduced to the company of the other sex. Here we are
brought together; and you know, dear Miss Holmes, that the most
important consequences often follow."

"Very true; but these important consequences are not always the most
beneficial. The writer to whom I have previously referred, has made
some good remarks on this subject, which, by your permission, I will
read to you:--

"'An evil of great moment, which is too frequently known to occur
at the places of amusement now under notice, is the introduction of
women to undesirable and improper acquaintance among the other sex;
undesirable and improper, as I would now be understood to mean, in
a moral point of view. Men of this description commonly abound at
all scenes of public resort and entertainment, who are distinguished
by fortune and birth--gay and conciliating manners--and every
qualification which is needful to procure a favourable reception
in polite company. Hence, when they propose themselves as partners
in an assembly-room, a lady does not always find it easy, according
to the rules of decorum, to decline the offer; and she is sometimes
enticed, by their external appearance, and by having seen other
ladies ambitious of dancing with them, into a reprehensible
inclination not to decline it.

"'Women, in various occurrences of life, are betrayed by a dread
of appearing ungenteelly bashful, and by a desire of rendering
themselves agreeable, into an indiscreet freedom of manners and
conversation with men of whom they know perhaps but little; and
still more frequently, into a greater degree of freedom with those
of whom they have more knowledge than can fitly be indulged, except
towards persons with whom they are connected by particular ties.
The temptation is in no place more powerful than in a ball-room.
Let not indiscriminate familiarity be shown towards all partners,
nor injudicious familiarity towards any. To reject every boisterous
and unbecoming mode of dancing, and to observe, in every point, the
strictest modesty in attire, are cautions on which, in addressing
women of delicacy, it is surely needless to insist.'"

"Well, I assure you, my dear Miss Holmes, I think both you and the
writer you have just quoted, overrate the dangers to which we are
exposed by attending such scenes of amusement; for I have never
known a friend injured by them, nor have I ever heard of such a
thing."

"You forget what befell Miss Moss."[25]

  [25] Miss Moss was a young lady of rare accomplishments--the only
  child of a pious and affectionate mother. Shortly after leaving
  school, she succeeded, with much difficulty, in obtaining her
  mother's reluctant consent to go _once_ to the assembly-room, just
  to see the parties. She was dressed most elegantly; and having a
  graceful form, and a fine open countenance, glowing with health,
  she excited considerable attention. One gentleman, who had been
  very polite during the evening, and who was her superior in rank,
  solicited the honour of conducting her home, which was granted.
  Having ascertained the usual time and place of her evening walk, he
  met her--made her an offer, which she accepted; when, having secured
  her affections, he accomplished her ruin, and left her. This broke
  her mother's heart, and eventually broke her own; and the parent and
  the daughter were buried in the same grave, at the distance of about
  six months from each other's funeral, each deploring, when too late,
  the danger resulting from the assembly-room. Nor is this an uncommon
  instance. At these places the spirits of evil resort, availing
  themselves of the freedom of intercourse which is tolerated; and
  having marked their victim, they proceed, with all the cunning and
  duplicity of the author of all evil, to accomplish their unhallowed
  purpose. If, then, parents wish to preserve the honour of their
  children uncontaminated, or if females, who are grown to years of
  discretion, wish to avoid the snares in which others have been
  overtaken, they ought to shun the resorts of the licentious and
  impure, as no one can be safe in their society.

"I beg pardon. I do. Ah! that was a tragical event."

"And how many tragical events have risen out of these scenes of
amusement! You have read, I have no doubt, the following account
of one which befell a very holy man:--'When Herod's birth-day was
kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod.
Whereupon he promised, with an oath, to give her whatsoever she
would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said,
Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was
sorry: nevertheless, for the oath's sake, and them which sat with
him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and
beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger,
and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.' How this
damsel could so far subdue the common feelings of human nature, and
still more the natural tenderness of her own sex, as not only to
endure so disgusting a spectacle, but even to carry the bleeding
trophy in triumph to her mother, is not easy to imagine; but it
shows, that a life of fashionable gaiety and dissipation not only
prevents the growth of the more amiable and useful virtues, but
sometimes calls into action those feelings and passions which lead
to rapine and murder."

The late excellent Bishop Horne closes his life of St. John in such
a forcible and beautiful manner, that the author does not conceive
it necessary to offer any apology to his readers for its insertion
on the present occasion:--

"The Baptist's fate being determined, 'immediately the king sent an
executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went, and
beheaded him in the prison.' This deed of darkness must have been
done in the season proper for it--the middle of the night; and
St. John was probably awakened, to receive his sentence, out of
that sleep which truth and innocence can secure to their possessor
in any situation. The generality of mankind have reason enough to
deprecate a sudden death, lest it should surprise them in one of
their many unguarded hours. But to St. John no hour could be such.
He had finished the work which God had given him to do. He had
kept the faith, and preserved a conscience void of offence. He had
done his duty, and waited daily and hourly, we may be sure, for
his departure. He was now, therefore, called off from his station
with honour--to quit the well-fought field for the palace of the
Great King--to refresh himself, after the dust, and toil, and heat
of the day, by bathing in the fountain of life and immortality--to
exchange his blood-stained armour for a robe of glory--and to have
his temporary labours rewarded with eternal rest--to sit down with
Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God--and as the
friend of the Bridegroom, to enter into the joy of his Lord. From
the darkness and confinement of a prison, he passed to the liberty
and light of heaven; and while malice was gratified with a sight
of his head, and his body was carried by a few friends in silence
to the grave, his immortal spirit repaired to a court, where no
Herod desires to have his brother's wife--where no Herodias thirsts
after the blood of a prophet--where he who hath laboured with
sincerity and diligence in the work of reformation is sure to be
well received--where holiness, zeal, and constancy are crowned, and
receive palms from the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.

    'So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
    And yet anon uprears his drooping head,
    And tricks his beams, and with new spangled ore,
    Flames in the forehead of the morning sky--
    He hears the unexpressive nuptial song
    In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love.
    There entertain him all the saints above,
    In solemn troops and sweet societies;
    That sing, and singing in their glory move,
    And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.'"--MILTON.



THE UNHAPPY ATTACHMENT.


The institution of marriage is a provision made by Divine Providence
to promote human happiness; but owing to the imprudence and haste
with which it is sometimes contracted, it not unfrequently becomes a
source of extreme wretchedness. This union should never be formed,
except by those who have a strong affection for each other; and even
then, the utmost degree of prudence should regulate their conduct,
both in the appointment of the time when it should take place, and
the adjustment of the various interests which it involves. When
persons marry mainly for the purpose of adding to their worldly
estate, or obtaining a higher position in society, it rarely
happens that an alliance entered into from such motives can be
productive of domestic happiness. And even when the purest feelings
of affection and love influence the youthful pair, inspiring them
with the determination to sacrifice the esteem of friends, and the
attractions of this world's wealth, rather than break the solemn vow
and separate for life, they should beware of rashness and headlong
impetuosity, pondering well the desirableness of the connection they
are about to form, and feeling well assured that it is really a step
which must conduce to their welfare.

When persons, who have no parents or judicious friends whom they can
consult, are making arrangements for marriage, they should exercise
more than ordinary discretion, lest they plunge themselves into
difficulties from which no one can rescue them. But when parents
are living, not to consult them, and pay some degree of deference
to their opinion, is an offence against the law of propriety, and
generally productive of the most fatal evils. Parents are more
deeply interested in the marriage of their children than any other
persons, and no pledges ought to be given between the contracting
parties till they have been spoken to on the subject. This is a
mark of respect to which they are justly entitled. And are they
not, from their age, and experience, and affection, qualified to
give advice? How far it is binding on a young person to obey his
or her parents, who may disapprove of a proposed marriage, is a
question which I shall not presume to decide; but that no young
person ought to give or receive any inviolable pledge, till they
have been solicited to give their opinion and sanction, is a point
too obvious to the dictates of good sense and filial attachment,
to need any lengthened discussion. But how very rarely is this the
case! An affection is formed and cherished--it grows up into ardent
and romantic attachment--interviews take place--letters and presents
are exchanged--and after the imagination has been captivated with
bright visions of future happiness, the parents are requested to
give their permission, not their advice. If, now, they object,
either from caprice, or from a full conviction that the proposed
union is improper or unsuitable, what direful consequences often
result! Their objections, in some cases, are treated with scorn,
and the marriage takes place in defiance of their authority;
and, in some instances, when their objections are admitted to be
valid, they are still doomed to see the fairest flower of their
family fade and die under the slow, yet fatal influence of a
passion, which is too strong to be quenched, and too baneful to
be cherished. These evils, which are so often springing up within
the domestic circle--destroying the peace and the happiness of
parents and of children, and setting at variance the members of the
same household--might be avoided, if, before adopting any decisive
measures, the parents--who have a right to expect such a mark of
respect, who have so much of their own respectability and happiness
at issue, and who are, in general, so well qualified to give
judicious counsel--were consulted.

But do not parents sometimes bring upon themselves, and upon their
children, the very evils which they are anxious to avoid? Do they
not, by their reserve--by their sternness--by their positive
unwillingness to admit their children into familiar intercourse, and
by their uniform habit of neglecting to encourage them to ask their
advice in their different pursuits in life, indirectly compel them
to concealment, from the dread of a furious outbreak of passion?
How many a dutiful son has been known to say, "I would consult my
father, but he will not listen to my solicitation!" How many an
amiable daughter has said, on an offer being made her, "I should
like to take counsel from my parents, but they will not give it.
They will condemn my attachment without inquiry--without respecting
my feelings, and without assigning any reasons for their decision!"
Thus, the inexperienced child is often thrown on her own resources,
in reference to the most momentous step in life, in consequence
of being unable to apply for the advice of her parents; and dire
necessity compels her to profound secresy, till the fact of her
attachment, having been discovered by some accident, is heard with
indignation. An order to discontinue all further correspondence
with the object of her affection is now peremptorily issued, which
merely serves to increase the ardour of her attachment, and make
her resolute in her choice, without regard to consequences. Let
parents, then, if they wish to guide and control their children on
these important occasions, induce them to repose in them an implicit
confidence--to consult them, as friends, on every occasion of
difficulty; and by the avoidance of dictation, imperative command,
or stern, unexplained prohibition, endeavour to rule over them by a
mild authority, tempered with the purest affection; and, by a course
of practical wisdom, in assigning plain, palpable, and important
reasons for the advice they give, make it evident that they are
influenced by a regard for their children's welfare, rather than by
mere caprice or an arbitrary will. And though instances may occur in
the history of human life, in which such a wise method of procedure
may fail in the accomplishment of its object; and a perverse or
reserved disposition may lead the son or daughter to set at naught
the kindest and best advice, when given in the most unexceptionable
manner; yet there is reason to believe, that where parents have
acted towards their children as they ought to act, such a disastrous
result will be of rare occurrence.

As we are commanded by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
to make known all our requests unto God, I cannot conceive of any
matter in which we ought to seek his direction more earnestly, than
in the choice of the person who is to be our companion for life.
He knows our tempers, our dispositions, and our propensities; the
future temptations and trials to which we shall be subjected, and
all the various ills that will intersect our path in life; and he
has promised, that if we acknowledge him in _all_ our ways, he
will direct our steps. Ought we not to implore his guidance in
the selection of a suitable partner, to share our sorrows, and
enhance our joys?--one who will soothe us, under the agitations
of distress, tranquillize the irritation of passion, assist us by
judicious counsel, and who will give a higher tone to our character,
by inducing us to add 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." But how rarely is this duty attended to, even by those
who make a profession of religion, till they see one who captivates
their heart; and then the sanction of God is requested, rather than
his counsel; and he is importuned to remove the obstructions which
impede the gratification of our wishes, instead of being solicited
to keep us from forming an alliance which will be injurious to our
happiness, our usefulness, and our honour!

And are not Christian parents, in general, too inattentive to this
branch of their duty? Are they not, in the case of the marriage
of their children, apt to depend too much on their own judgment
to decide on its fitness? And are they not more frequently
influenced in their decision by the love of wealth, and of worldly
respectability, than by those moral and religious considerations,
which ought ever to maintain an absolute authority over them? As
their own peace, and the present and eternal happiness of their
children, and their children's children, depend so much on this
important measure, they ought often to pray, as their children are
rising to maturity, that he who fixes the bounds of our habitation,
and determines for us the number of our years on earth, would be
pleased to form their connections, and sanctify their marriage
by his blessing? Is it not by the adoption of such a course of
practical devotion, that parents are encouraged to expect that their
sons and their daughters will be preserved "from the hand of strange
children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and whose right hand is a
right hand of falsehood:" and be induced to form those alliances
which will be no less a source of happiness than of honour--handing
down not only their names, but their principles, their example, and
their influence to bless and adorn the succeeding generation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The intimacy which subsisted between Emma Holmes and her young
friend Miss Orme proved essentially injurious to the moral tone
and feelings of her mind; and eventually brought on the family a
series of trials which overwhelmed them in the deepest sorrow. This
intimacy commenced at school, just as her character began to receive
its complexion and its tendencies; and when she stood most in need
of those checks and restraints, and that salutary advice, which
she would have received, if her companion had been imbued with the
grace of pure religion. From the cast of her mind, which bore no
resemblance to that of either of her sisters, she imbibed, at an
early age, strong prejudices against evangelical piety; and though
at one period she felt the reproaches of an evil conscience, and the
terrors of the law falling upon her, yet she soon cast them off,
and became still more volatile and gay. The inconsistent conduct of
some professors was the immediate cause of effacing her deep and
solemn impressions of the vanity of the world and the importance of
religion; and though she would readily admit that this circumstance
was no valid argument against the reality of personal piety, yet she
could never conquer that painful aversion which it had excited in
her mind against the love of the truth.

This strong aversion was strengthened and increased by many
accidental circumstances, from which at the time no bad effects
were apprehended. Her sister Louisa had established a periodical
interchange of visits between her own family and the Corries, and
their uncouth phraseology of speech was no less offensive to
Emma's taste, than their dogmatic opinions were revolting to her
moral feelings. Their intellectual weakness imperceptibly destroyed
that reverence for the Christian faith which she had felt, when
contemplating it as associated with minds of a higher order, and
greater degree of refinement. Their perpetual recurrence to a few
favourite opinions--the tenacity with which they held them, even
when fairly refuted by sound argument--the self-complacency which
they discovered in their assumed superior illumination, after an
unsuccessful effort to support the dogmas of their belief--and
the sang-froid with which they condemned as unenlightened and
unconverted every one who professed sentiments differing from their
own--excited in her mind a great dislike to evangelical religion.
While these good people required from the chosen few a more entire
renunciation of the world than is compatible with its claims on our
attention; and while they visited with severe censures the slightest
degree of conformity to its style of dress or of living--condemning
even a taste for music, poetry, or art, as a proof of a carnal mind;
they gave to the unconverted the utmost latitude, and maintained
that pious parents should not attempt to impose any restrictions on
their children, assigning as a reason that if they were not elected
to eternal life, this was the only state in which they could enjoy
happiness, and that to deprive them of it by prohibiting them from
"walking in the ways of their own heart, and in the sight of their
own eyes," would be an act of cruelty and folly. In vain did Mr.
Holmes argue, that secret things belong to God, and the revealed
promises and prohibitions to us and to our children; they invariably
met his arguments by saying, that the mysteries of the kingdom were
concealed from the wise and the prudent, being revealed only to
babes.

These speculative notions, if confined within their own pious
circle, would have done but little injury, but being introduced as
the theme of frequent discussion and debate in Emma's presence, they
supplied her with a powerful argument in justification of her own
predilections.

It was at this period, when her mind was vacillating between
a lingering reverence and a positive aversion to evangelical
religion, that she happened to pay a visit to Redhill, the seat
of Colonel Orme, her friend's father. Here she passed at once
from the chastened seriousness and fervent devotion of domestic
order and piety, to the levity and gaiety of fashionable life;
and being removed from the control of her parents, she devoted
herself to worldly pleasures and amusements with an ardour of
feeling which bespoke the energy of her ruling passion. The Colonel
was a good-natured, pleasant man; he had been gay in his younger
days, but was now become very domestic in his habits. He was a
professed infidel; and though he had too much politeness to make
a direct attack upon religion in Emma's presence, he nevertheless
availed himself of every favourable opportunity to lower it in
her estimation. He related facetious stories which had been got
up for the purpose of burlesquing the doctrines of the new birth,
and salvation by grace--introduced some grave tales to calumniate
the conduct of the evangelical clergy, and gave it as his decided
opinion, that the fanaticism of the country would destroy the energy
and glory of the English character.

Mrs. Orme was quite the lady of fashion, fond of dress and cards,
operas and balls; and as for Sunday, she was sometimes seen at
church, but then it was principally to show a mark of respect to the
clergyman, who was a particular friend of the Colonel's.

The Colonel had three daughters by his present wife, and one son
by a former marriage. As it required all his income to support the
style in which he lived, he could make no provision for his son
beyond the commission he had obtained for him in the army, yet he
flattered himself on being able to form for him some good alliance;
and understanding that Mr. Holmes was possessed of great wealth,
he resolved, if possible, to secure Emma as a partner for his son.
He broached the subject to his wife and eldest daughter, and both
agreed that the idea was most excellent.

"Indeed, Papa," said Miss Orme, "I think she is the very woman for
Charles. I am sure he will be captivated with her. Such beauty, such
elegance of manners, so much wit; and I should suppose, from the
style in which the Holmeses live, such a handsome fortune."

"I don't look at beauty," said Mrs. Orme, "for that will fade; nor
at elegance of manners, for that obtains no distinction in the
present day; nor yet at wit, for that often brings people into
trouble; but I look at the fortune. Can you form any idea how much
she is likely to have? Have you ever spoken to her on the subject?"

"O dear, yes, Mamma; I said to her one day, as we were walking down
the Green Lanes, just when we came opposite that beautiful house,
with the lawn and carriage sweep before it: 'I suppose, Emma,
nothing less than a carriage and four will please you,' at which she
smiled. I do think she expects a very handsome fortune."

"Ay, ay," said the Colonel, "these London citizens never retire from
business till they have feathered their nest very comfortably; but
they are, like old birds, rather wary, and we must be cautious how
we set the nets, or we shall not be able to catch the game. This
business requires management, and as I understand how to manoeuvre
you must leave it to me. You women are too hasty in your movements."

"Well, well," said Mrs. Orme, "I don't care who takes the management
of the business, so that it is managed properly. But I must suggest
one idea before I have done, and that is, Emma herself had better be
asked the question, whether she is engaged, or has any objection to
the army."

"Yes, exactly so, Mamma. That idea struck me just now; and I think
it a most excellent one; and as we are to walk out in the evening,
I will propose it. I have no doubt but she will tell me; and if,
Papa, she feels any reluctance, I could argue the case with her, and
I have no doubt I should succeed. I am so delighted the idea ever
entered your mind."

"You will each keep at your posts," said the Colonel, "and not move
or speak in this business till I give the word of command. The first
thing to be done is to ascertain if Charles will put off his present
engagement with Miss Collingwood, and the next is to see whether he
will take a fancy to Miss Holmes."

"Why, Colonel," said his wife, "I am surprised to hear you talk
so irrationally! Do you think he would hesitate breaking off
that engagement a single moment? Why, he said to me just before
he left home, 'I am apprehensive, from what I heard at the mess,
that Collingwood is not the man of wealth I thought he was when my
intimacy with his family commenced, and I must make more particular
inquiries.'"

"Perhaps he won't object," said the Colonel, "though you know it is
a point of honour which every man can't pass; but as he has passed
it once, he may again."

In the evening, just before they sat down to cards, the Colonel
opened the campaign, by saying, "It is natural for every man to give
a decided preference to his own profession; but for my part, if I
were to begin life again, and had my choice, I would enter the army.
There it is a man acquires glory."

"And there it is," said Emma, "he is exposed to danger."

"Why, very true, Miss Holmes, but you know that the field of danger
is where the crown of honour is won!"

"Yes, but what sacrifice of feeling does it require?"

"Why, very true, but you know feeling is rather sentimental!"

"Sentimental, Sir!" said the lively young lady, "and did you think
so when you received your wound in the head? It was then, I suspect,
felt to be real."

"Why, yes," said the Colonel, somewhat embarrassed, "very true; but
we don't pay much regard to feeling when engaged in the conflict."

"So I suppose; nor much regard to feeling in prospect of the
conflict, and still less when it is over."

"There you are mistaken; for before the battle begins, a death-like
horror comes over the most courageous spirit; but when it is over,
the shout of victory gives an ecstasy of delight."

"But how is it changed when you look round on the mangled bodies of
the slain--on your friends and comrades weltering in their blood--or
think of the wives and children whom the sword makes widows and
orphans!"

"Ah, true, that's the worst of it: but you know that wars and
fightings have been from the beginning, and will be to the end; and
some must engage in them."

"I presume," said Emma, addressing herself to Mrs. Orme, "you must
have felt intense agony of mind, every time the Colonel left you for
actual service!"

"At first I did, but after I got used to it, I did not regard it,
for use, you know, my dear, is second nature; and then there was so
much pleasure on his return."

"There is, certainly," said the Colonel, "some danger attending the
profession of arms; but it is the most honourable profession in
which a gentleman can be engaged; and though humanity may shudder at
sight of the evils attending it, yet a true soldier is one of the
most tender-hearted men living."

"Your eloquence, Sir," said Miss Emma, "brings to my recollection
what I once read:--'One murder makes a villain--a thousand a hero;'
and though you descant most feelingly on the tenderness of a
soldier's heart, you no doubt refer to it, when touched by the point
of the sword."

"Or," said the Colonel gallantly, "when pierced by a woman's eye!"

Here the conversation ended, and they passed the evening at their
favourite game. "I fear," said Mrs. Orme, as soon as she found
herself alone with her husband, "she has no predilection for the
profession; and if so, our hopes are blasted."

"Yes, yes, she has, only she has thrown up a masked battery in her
own defence; but when Charles comes, you will see with what ease he
will destroy it."

A few days after this conversation, Colonel and Mrs. Orme
entertained a large party at dinner, at which a brilliant company
of fashionable friends and acquaintances was present. As this
was the first party that had been invited during her visit, Emma
bestowed a more than ordinary attention on her personal appearance.
Her dress, if not expensive, was elegant, and though there were
other ladies who surpassed her in the richness of their attire,
there was no one who equalled her in the beauty of her figure, or
the grace and elegance of her movements. She now felt herself,
for the first time in her life, in a position which gave her an
opportunity of displaying her attractions, which she did with so
much grace, that she excited the envy and admiration of the company,
who were astonished when they heard that this was the daughter of
Mr. Holmes. In the course of the evening the rumble of wheels was
heard at the door, and soon after a handsome young man entered the
drawing-room, whom Emma at once perceived to be Charles Orme, on
his parents and sister hastening forward to meet him. He had just
got leave of absence, he said, for a few weeks, and sooner than
he expected, which had brought him to Redhill, without previously
sending any notice. Emma was quite charmed with his appearance, and
still more so when the Colonel, walking up to her, said, "Allow me,
Miss Holmes, to introduce to you my son Charles--Charles, Miss Emma
Holmes.

"This is an unlooked-for pleasure, Miss Holmes," said Captain Orme,
performing his part in the ceremony of the introduction with the
most polished gallantry; "I have often heard of you from my sister
in her letters. What charming weather this is! Pray, may I have you
as a partner, as I see they are getting up a quadrille?"

Emma gracefully consented; and from that moment her destiny in life
was fixed. On the other hand, Captain Orme was quite struck with her
beauty; and though the apparent heartiness of his manner, at his
first introduction, was merely the result of that vanity which seeks
to engross for itself the company of the most elegant woman present,
he could not help experiencing, even in his cold and selfish heart,
a somewhat deeper and more serious feeling, as he conversed with
this young and beautiful girl. Colonel and Mrs. Orme viewed, with
great satisfaction, the evident impression made on their son by
Emma's beauty; and, accordingly, after their guests had departed,
they communicated to him the matrimonial speculation they had in
view for him.

[Illustration: FIRST MEETING OF CAPTAIN ORME AND EMMA HOLMES.

Vol. ii. p. 352.]

"I am sure, Charles," said his father, "there could not be a
more desirable match: youth, beauty, and last, not least (with a
significant leer), a very handsome fortune."

"Has she her fortune at her own command?" asked his son.

"Why, no, the wealth of the Holmes family has all been accumulated
by the old man; and I should suppose the amount of this girl's
fortune must be dependent on his will. But he will, doubtless, give
her a handsome portion, if he is satisfied with the match."

"Now, that is just the difficulty," said Mrs. Orme. "The family,
always strong Evangelicals, have lately turned Dissenters, because,
forsooth, Mr. Vaughan's sermons are not sufficiently methodistical
to please them. Mr. Holmes has a great prejudice against the
military profession, as one both of a questionable nature in itself,
and beset with numerous temptations. We must, then, play our cards
well, and act with caution."

"The first thing," said the Colonel, "is for you, Charles, to pay
your addresses to Miss Holmes. I do not think there will be much
difficulty with _her_."

"Well, I should rather suppose there would not," replied the modest
youth, contemplating, with considerable satisfaction, his elegant
figure in the mirror over the drawing-room chimney-piece; "it shall
not be my fault if she does not become Mrs. Orme. But good night. I
was up all last night at Lady Fortescue's ball, and must be off to
bed."

"One word, Charles," said his mother, "what are you going to do with
Miss Collingwood?"

"O, that has all been over for some time. I learned that her father
has nothing to depend on but his pay, and that his daughter's
fortune, left her by an aunt, amounts only to three thousand
pounds, and is so tied up, that I should never be able to touch a
shilling of it. So I am well out of that affair."

The Captain was a young man about the age of twenty-five. He had
inherited from his mother a handsome fortune, which he received on
coming of age; but such had been his profuse extravagance, before
and after he entered the army, that when he had paid his so-called
debts of honour, and the Jew brokers who had advanced him money,
he found himself unable to defray the bills of his tradesmen, who
were clamorous for the settlement of their accounts. Various were
the expedients which he employed to keep them from carrying their
threats into execution; and at length he resolved on marriage, as
the only alternative he could devise, to extricate himself from his
embarrassments. He first paid his addresses to the eldest daughter
of a country gentleman, but soon quitted her on ascertaining the
small amount of fortune which she possessed. A similar reason,
as above-mentioned, induced him to desert Miss Collingwood, the
daughter of a retired major in the Indian army; and now he prepared
to pay his addresses to the more accomplished and the more wealthy
daughter of Mr. Holmes. He, of course, concealed from the latter
the history of his former life, spoke of the fortune which fell
to him by the death of his mother, as though it were still in his
possession, and assured her that he had no other motive in view
than the honour and felicity of being permitted to call her his
wife. Unaccustomed to the duplicity of the world, and fudging of
others, from the integrity of her own heart, she listened to his
overtures with pleasure, and though she proposed speaking to her
parents before she ventured to give any decisive reply, yet this was
overruled by Mrs. Orme, who suggested the expediency of deferring
it for the present. "You know, my dear," said the intriguing woman,
"your Papa and Mamma, from their peculiar sentiments on religion,
may feel some objection to Charles's profession, and it will be
necessary to adopt some plan to reconcile them to it; and, as an
opening has now been made, the Colonel and I both think that we had
better establish a close intimacy with the Elms, before anything is
said on the subject."

On her return home, she intermingled with the family as usual,
preserved the same degree of decorum in her attention to religious
duties, and at times appeared thoughtful and sedate, which induced
her unsuspecting sister to imagine that she was beginning to feel
the deep impressions of religion on her heart. Amidst all her
gaiety, and sprightliness, and aversion to decided piety, she had
always displayed an honest frankness when speaking on the subject,
but now she had a part to act which required duplicity; and having
been tutored to this vice at the Colonel's, she soon became a
proficient. As her sister Louisa had made some reference to her
comparative sedateness, and expressed, in very delicate terms, her
hope that it was the beginning of the great change, she resolved
to assume a more uniform gravity of manner, that she might more
effectually conceal the passion which had taken such strong hold
of her feelings. She made no allusion to the scenes of gaiety she
had recently witnessed, and in which she moved as one of the most
admired figures; nor did she express any wish to repeat her visit,
which rather tended to confirm the hopes of her sister.

"Jane and I," said Miss Holmes, as they were all rising from the
dinner table, "are going to see Mrs. Kent; will you accompany us,
Emma?"

"Certainly. I long to see the old lady. She is a real Christian,
I have no doubt; and if her mind had received the same degree of
cultivation as her heart, she would have exhibited the majesty and
force no less than the amiable traits of religion."

"I was not aware," replied Miss Holmes, with a smile of pleasure,
"that you ever associated such qualities with the pure religion of
Jesus Christ."

"O yes, I do; and I am delighted when I see them embodied in a
living character; but they must be blended to produce their full
effect."

"But is not the beauty of religion more attractive than its
grandeur?"

"It may be so to some persons, but not to me. I prefer a mind that
can discourse on the doctrines of Christianity in a style of speech
which bears some analogy to their sublime greatness."

"I hope, dear Emma," said Miss Holmes, "you do not now feel
that strong antipathy to the Corries which you have heretofore
manifested; for though they are weak Christians, yet you must
acknowledge they are pious."

"Yes, they may be pious," replied Emma, with some sarcastic warmth
of manner; "but who that has any feeling of respect for the honour
of Christianity does not regret that their piety is not confined to
a cloister? Mrs. Kent exhibits the beauty of religion, the Corries
its deformity: Mrs. Kent would make an infidel believe, but the
Corries would make a Christian doubt; she, by the artless simplicity
of her instructions, would

              ... 'rear the tender thought,
    And teach the young idea how to shoot;'

till the principle of grace grows up laden with the fruits of
righteousness; they, by their vanity and self-conceit, their
dogmatism, and perverse obstinacy of opinion, would shake the
strongest faith. Or, to speak in plain terms, such Christians as the
Corries should never speak on religious subjects in the presence of
the irreligious; for if they do, they will confirm the enmity which
they wish to subdue, and give a degree of encouragement to sin which
they do not intend."

The old woman had just finished reading a letter when the young
ladies entered her cottage; and though she received them with her
usual kind manner, yet she could not conceal the powerful agitation
of her feelings.

"I hope," said Miss Holmes, "we are not intruding."

"No, Miss, I am very glad to see you; and I hope you will not allow
my distress to give you any trouble."

"O," said Emma, "if you are in trouble let us know the cause of it;
though I ought to apologize for having asked such an impertinent
question."

"The question is not impertinent, and therefore I beg you will say
nothing about an apology. I have just received a letter from my dear
boy, who has been absent from me these fourteen years, and as I had
not heard from him for many months I thought he was dead."

"Where is he?"

"He is with his regiment at the Cape of Good Hope, very ill in the
hospital, and says he does not expect that I shall ever hear from
him again. He was once a good, obedient son, much attached to his
mother, but he fell into evil company, and was enticed to enlist as
a soldier. He said nothing to me about it for many days after he had
done it, or I could have got him off by speaking to Squire Ridgeway;
but I did not know anything about it till the night before he was
marched off, and since then I have never seen him; and now he is
confined in the hospital so far off that I can't go to nurse him,
nor speak to him about the Saviour who came into the world to save
sinners. I hope you will excuse me, ladies, but a mother can't help
weeping."

While the poor old woman was telling this affecting tale, the
countenance of Emma underwent very perceptible changes, from the
deep crimson blush to a deathlike paleness, till, overpowered by her
feelings, she fainted in the arms of her sister. She was taken into
the open air, and various expedients were adopted to restore her,
which after a short time proved successful. "Dear creature," said
Mrs. Kent, fanning her, "she has a tender heart, and can't bear to
hear of another's sorrows. I am grieved that I said anything about
my affliction, it has proved too much for her."

"She has," Miss Holmes remarked, "a great esteem for you, which is
the cause of her having felt so great an interest in your calamity;
but she will soon be better."

On recovering, she expressed her regret that the weakness of her
nerves should occasion so much trouble; and having taken a draught
of water, she rose, and leaning on the arms of her sisters, soon
after walked home. During the evening she endeavoured to resume her
usual cheerfulness, but she could not, and dreading a recurrence of
the fit, she complained of indisposition, and retired to rest. In
the morning, when her sister Louisa went into her room, she found
her in a sweet sleep; and, as she was stealing away, she saw a
miniature lying on her dressing-table, and on looking at it thought
it bore a strong resemblance to Captain Orme, who, after Emma's
return home, had one day called with his sister.

The following day Mr. and Mrs. Holmes were surprised by a call from
the Colonel and Miss Orme, who came to invite them to meet a select
dinner party; and, though they had resolved not to intermix with
the gay world, yet they knew not how to refuse such an expression
of politeness, especially as they had been so kind to Emma. They
therefore consented.

"Mamma requested me," said Miss Orme to her young friend, "to offer
you the loan of this book, which she thinks you will like. _It is a
very religious one. You may open it at your leisure._"

The emphasis which was placed on this sentence, viewed in connection
with the miniature painting, awakened the suspicion of Miss Holmes,
who now believed that some secret correspondence was going on
between her sister and Captain Orme; and an accidental occurrence
took place in the course of the day, which removed every doubt from
her mind. Emma on taking her handkerchief out of her reticule, as
she was retiring from the parlour after dinner, dropped a letter,
which her mother picked up, and read. She immediately presented it
to Mr. Holmes, who also read it. This was a letter which Mrs. Orme
had inclosed between the leaves of the book she had sent to Emma,
informing her that Charles was well, and wanted to meet her that
evening, at Mrs. Paton's. She added that she hoped she had contrived
to keep all at the Elms ignorant of the affair, as the Colonel was
still of opinion that they should not be spoken to on the business
till everything was properly arranged.

This letter, which explained the obscure parts of Emma's conduct,
involved the whole family in great perplexity; and they were at a
loss to know what course to pursue, that would save her from the
snares which had been laid to entrap her. At length it was resolved
to replace the letter, and leave the room. This was done, and on
passing through the hall, Mr. Holmes met her, and said,

"I am going, my dear, to take a ride in the carriage this afternoon,
will you go with me?"

"Certainly, Papa."

On entering the parlour she found her letter, and eagerly seized it,
presuming that it had escaped detection.

She had given her promise to accompany her father when her feelings
were strongly excited by the dread of having Mrs. Orme's letter to
her discovered; but now she began to complain of indisposition, and
wished to decline the proposed ride. However, her objections were
overruled, and she went.

On the following morning, her father, finding her alone, took
the opportunity of alluding to his anxiety for her spiritual and
temporal welfare, and hoped that she would take no important step in
life without the advice and approbation of her parents.

"Do you think it possible, Papa, that I could be so unwise or so
undutiful as to take any important step without consulting you?"

"Tell me, my dear child," said her father, taking her by the hand,
"have you not already been induced to do so, and that by the
persuasion of others?"

This question, proposed in the mildest accents, and with every
expression of parental tenderness, staggered and confounded her,
and, after a momentary pause, she fell on her knees and implored
forgiveness.

"Yes, my father, I have been induced to act a part which I sincerely
regret. Forgive me, I beseech you."

She frankly confessed the whole plot; offered to return every letter
and present she had received, and promised that she would never
suffer herself to be again beguiled from the path of duty. These
presents Mr. Holmes sent back to the Colonel's, accompanied by the
following letter:--

     "SIR,--Since your call on Thursday morning, I have detected the
     intimacy which has been formed between my daughter and your son;
     and am surprised that you and Mrs. Orme should so far forget
     the obligations which are due to a parent, as to dissuade my
     child from consulting me on a measure of so much importance to
     our happiness, and her own. Had the young people resolved to
     practise this species of deception on me without your knowledge
     or consent, I should blame them only; but as this plot has been
     got up by you, I must say, that the amount of their fault is
     lost in the greater magnitude of yours; and I have no doubt
     but your object is to repair the ruined fortune of your son
     at the expense of my daughter's happiness. You will therefore
     allow me to say, that all intimacy between our families has
     ceased.--Yours," &c.

After this abrupt termination of an intimacy which had opened
before her the prospect of a connection for life, she appeared for
a few days relieved from an oppressive burden of anxiety, and was
assiduous in her attention to her parents; but her appearance and
her manners soon proved that her affections were entangled, and
that nothing but time and the tenderest treatment on their part
could disengage them. She became low and dejected--careless of her
person--unwilling to mingle in any company--the healthful bloom of
her countenance passed away, succeeded by the sickly and pallid
hue; she seldom took part in conversation, and endeavoured to avoid
all intercourse with the other members of the family. At length
her mother became much alarmed, and said it was her opinion, that
unless they consented to a renewal of the intimacy with the Ormes,
they must prepare to follow their daughter to the grave. "I never
can give my consent to the connection," said Mr. Holmes; "and would
rather follow her to the grave than see her united to such a person.
Captain Orme is a man who has squandered his fortune; destroyed the
strength of his constitution by dissolute habits; is involved in
debt by his extravagance; and would sacrifice the happiness, and
even the life of Emma, with as little remorse as he now feels for
his past crimes. He is bad, but his parents, if possible, are worse;
for they have not only given the sanction of their approbation to
his conduct, but attempted to corrupt our child, and thus ruin our
domestic happiness."

The conduct of a female, who accepts the addresses of a gentleman
without consulting her parents, or her guardians, is deserving of
censure; but when she is beguiled into the measure by the entreaties
and persuasion of others, and especially those who have children
or wards of their own, the voice of censure should reserve its
severest expressions of reprobation for her tempters and seducers.
Their delinquency, it is true, does not cancel hers, but it offers
some slight degree of extenuation. What evils often result from
that system of manoeuvring, which is so much tolerated, nay, even
applauded, in society! These match-makers and busy-bodies--these
common nuisances and pests--who trample on all the sacred principles
of honour and of friendship, and display such indifference when
detected--ought to be excluded from every family which wishes to
preserve the honour and happiness of its female members. Nor ought
we to hold in less detestation and abhorrence, the conduct of those
who allow our children to hold secret and forbidden intercourse with
each other at their houses, or consent to become the agents through
whom a correspondence is carried on. Such persons may express their
tender sympathy for the young people who are not permitted to meet
openly and in the face of day, and may pass some heavy censures on
the cruelty of their parents; but can they, on reflection, approve
of their own doings, and think themselves entitled to respect?
Impossible! They are acting a part over which they wish the veil
of secrecy to be thrown; and, often sacrificing on the same altar
the virtue and happiness of the child, with the peace and honour of
the parent, can offer no other apology for their conduct, than that
"they did not mean any harm."

Mr. Holmes saw, with great anxiety, the declining health of his
beloved Emma; and on surprising her, in tears, one morning as he
entered her room, he expressed his fears that she was unhappy.

"Yes, my father, I am unhappy; and I believe that I shall never see
another happy day in this unhappy world."

"But I understood, when I spoke to you on the subject, that it was
your determination to renounce all further thoughts of Captain Orme."

"Yes, I said I would return his letters, and never suffer myself
to be again beguiled from the path of duty; but I cannot subdue my
feelings. I think if you knew him you would not object."

"My dear girl, I have strong objections to his profession, which is
not favourable to the cultivation of those domestic virtues on which
the happiness of a wife depends."

"But, Papa, he is one of the most attentive and amiable of men; and
would, I have no doubt, make me happy."

"It is very rarely, indeed, that a rake ever makes a good husband."

"A rake! Papa; you are misinformed."

"Ah, my child, you are not aware of the deception which has been
practised on you, by those you once thought, and perhaps still
think, your friends. I have made the most minute inquiry respecting
his habits, his property, and his character; and I can assure
you, on evidence the most decisive, that he is dissolute in his
habits--impoverished in his fortune--and his general character is
the very reverse of what you imagine."

"O Papa! I think you have been deceived. He has his mother's
fortune, which is very handsome. I have seen the original deeds
which secured it to him."

"He had his mother's fortune, my dear, but he squandered it away
before he came of age; and when it was actually transferred to him,
it was not sufficient to pay all his debts."

"Are you sure, Papa, that you are not misinformed?"

"Perfectly sure, my dear Emma."

"And may I be permitted to ask, how you gained this information,
which is so contrary to every statement I have received; and which,
if true, must change my opinion of him?"

"I gained it, in the first instance, through the medium of your
brothers; but as I was unwilling to believe such an unfavourable
account, even on their testimony, I obtained a personal interview
with several of his creditors, who gave me ocular proof of the
correctness of their statements. Indeed, one of them arrested him
last week, for the sum of twenty pounds, which had been due more
than a year and a half; and others have been induced to wait a few
months longer, from the representations of the Colonel, who has told
them that his son is just on the eve of marrying a wealthy citizen's
daughter, when every claim shall be settled."

"Impossible! Such treachery cannot dwell in the human bosom!"

"It is true, my child."

"I am forced to believe it, Papa, and yet I cannot. Perhaps it is
only a temporary embarrassment, arising from some act of generosity,
or some species of fraud, that has been practised on him. And you
know, Papa, a gentleman who is reduced to poverty, may rise again in
society; and gaining wisdom by his experience, he may become more
careful."

"Yes, my dear, if he be a man of probity and virtue; but if not, he
will never rise."

"And is not Charles Orme a man of probity and virtue?"

"I am sorry to say he is not. He may appear such in your presence,
and he may be described as such by his own family, but when his mode
of life is inquired into, he will be found frequenting places and
societies which a virtuous man would shun as offensive to his taste,
and destructive of his honour."

When a forbidden passion has once gained an ascendency over the mind
of a female, it very often throws such a spell around her, that she
becomes either unable or unwilling to see the inevitable ruin that
lies before her; and though she will listen to the advice of her
friends with apparent interest, and sometimes profess to adopt it,
under a full conviction that it is such as she ought to follow, yet
as soon as she comes into contact with the fatal object on which her
affections are irrecoverably placed, she feels an influence which
destroys all her wise resolves, and hurries her to her doom.

Thus it was with the infatuated Emma, who, after struggling with
her affections for many months, and endeavouring to recover that
mental peace which she formerly enjoyed, rashly determined to follow
the impulse of her will, though her ruin should be the inevitable
consequence.

The family had accepted an invitation to spend a few days with an
intimate friend, who resided near Tunbridge Wells, but as Emma did
not wish to go into company at present, she was excused, and took
leave of her parents and sisters with the tenderest expressions of
attachment, and said she hoped they would enjoy the visit. On their
return they were informed by the housekeeper that Miss Emma had not
been home since the day after they left, but had requested her to
present the following letter to her father as soon as she saw him:--

     "MY DEAR FATHER,--Before you receive this, I shall have
     committed an act which will plunge you and every one of our
     family into the greatest distress; but I have been compelled to
     it by dire necessity. I could not conquer my passion for Captain
     Orme, and am therefore now his wife. Had I not consented, my
     life would have fallen a sacrifice to my feelings; and as I am
     not prepared to die, I judged it prudent to perpetuate a life,
     with some chance for happiness, rather than lose it, with a
     certain prospect of misery. I hope you and my dear mother will
     forgive me; and if you cannot suffer me to visit you, I hope
     you will pray for me. My present home is at the Colonel's, and
     though I do not expect to find it such a one as that which I
     have left, yet I trust it will not be without its comforts. With
     every affectionate regard to you, my dear Mamma, and sisters,
     and brothers, I am your undutiful, yet much attached,

     "EMMA."



A SEQUEL TO THE FOREGOING.


The distress into which the Holmes' family were plunged, on
hearing the contents of the letter just referred to, exceeds all
description; and though, during the first ebullition of their grief,
they gave utterance to heavy censures and bitter reproaches, yet, on
cooler reflection, they felt more disposed to pity than blame the
poor deluded Emma. "A deceived heart," said her father, "hath led
her astray, and she needs not the vial of our displeasure to fill up
the bitter cup which she has to drink. We, as a family, have had,"
he continued, "a larger proportion of happiness for a long series of
years than has fallen to the lot of most; and if, in the decline of
life, it should please an all-wise Providence to cast over us the
clouds of sorrow, we must not repine, but rather bow in submission
to his righteous will, and pray for wisdom and for grace, to guide
and support us, when walking through the darkness by which we are
now surrounded."

"But," said Mrs. Holmes, "this is an evil which I did not expect.
I thought she had too much regard for her own honour, and too
much respect for our feelings, to steal away from us in such a
clandestine manner, as though her home were a prison, and her
parents tyrants. She deserves all she may suffer; and if she has not
become as callous as a rock, must endure a martyrdom of anguish."

"Yes, my dear, but she is still our child; and though she has torn
herself away from us, we must not abandon her."

"Abandon her! no, impossible! I can never forget that I gave her
birth; that I watched over her in infancy and childhood; and that
she was the pride of my heart in my old age. It is the strength of
my affection that gives me such intense pain when I think of her
ungrateful conduct."

Her clothes, &c., were carefully packed up, and sent to Colonel
Orme's, according to her own request, accompanied by the following
letter, which inclosed a draft on her father's banker for £50:--

     "MY DEAR EMMA,--I shall not attempt to describe our
     consternation when on returning home we received your letter,
     which informed us of the step you have taken. To reproach you,
     now the deed is done, will not repair the evil, nor will it
     afford any alleviation to our distress. We hope you may be
     happy, and may meet that kindness from your new connections,
     which you, no doubt, have anticipated; but which we do not
     expect. I have inclosed a draft for your _own use_, as a token
     of my affection, and assure you that you will always meet with a
     welcome reception at the Elms, when you choose to visit us; but
     you must come alone. As you are now an inmate in a family which
     makes no profession of religion, I fear you will be exposed to
     temptations, which will efface every devout impression you have
     received; and you may be induced to treat with indifference, if
     not with contempt, the faith in which you have been educated.
     Remember, my dear child, that the fashion of this world is
     passing away, and that in a few years you will have to stand
     before the judgment seat of Christ, and if, in that solemn and
     awful moment, you should be separated from us, by the impassable
     gulf, with what feelings will you await your sentence! We will
     pray for you; but our prayers will be useless unless _you_
     likewise pray, and repent, and believe the gospel.--I remain
     your affectionate father,

     H. HOLMES."

Her husband took this draft to the bank and got it cashed, but he
kept the money; and when his wife ventured to ask him for it, he
requested her to apply to her father for more. This she refused to
do, which drew from him the first unkind expression she had heard
him utter. As the news of his marriage spread abroad, his creditors
became very clamorous for the settlement of their accounts; and
though by dexterous manoeuvring, he contrived to keep them from
adopting any violent measures, yet he felt conscious that the
crisis was fast approaching, unless Mr. Holmes could be persuaded
to assist him. He made a contrite apology to his wife for the
unguarded language he had used--pledged his honour never more to
wound her feelings--and assured her that nothing but dire necessity
had induced him to appropriate the money to his own use, which was
designed exclusively for hers. She accepted the apology, but felt
startled by his allusion to pecuniary embarrassment, though she felt
the subject to be too delicate to notice.

Her husband's family treated her with the utmost degree of respect
and affection, and every one strove to promote her happiness.
Captain Orme was unremitting in his attentions, studied her
gratification in all his arrangements, and conducted himself with
so much propriety, that she flattered herself with the prospect
of enjoying a large portion of conjugal felicity. Six months had
now passed away without any fresh interruption to her happiness,
when she began to perceive a fixed gloom on the countenance of her
husband, who absented himself more frequently, and for a longer
space of time than he had been accustomed to do; and she heard some
ambiguous expressions from her father and mother-in-law, which she
knew not how to explain; nor would her high spirit suffer her to ask
an explanation. At length, one day the Colonel informed her that
some application must be made to her father for a settlement, as his
son's pay was not equal to the expenses of the family which he was
now likely to have.

"Captain Orme informed me, Sir, when he solicited me to leave my
father's house to become his wife, and you assured me that his
statement was correct, that his fortune was large, and that it was
quite immaterial to him whether my father gave me a fortune or left
me penniless."

"I deny it, Madam, and now tell you that your husband is in
embarrassed circumstances, and it is useless to conceal the fact any
longer. Something must be done, or you are both ruined."

"No gentleman, Sir, ever ventured to suspect the truth of my
testimony, and I am sorry that I ever gave you an opportunity to do
it."

"Well, well, I beg your pardon for the abruptness of my reply.
Perhaps I did say that his statement was correct; but to be frank,
he is in difficulties, and we must endeavour to get him out as well
as we can; and no one has so much at stake in this business as
yourself."

"If his difficulties have come upon him since our marriage I will
submit to any privation, and will take upon myself any task to
extricate him; but if they existed before, I do not know that it is
in my power to forgive an act of deception so cruel and unjust as
that which you have all practised upon me."

"You talk," said the Colonel, "like one who lived before the fall,
in a state of paradisiacal innocence, rather than like one who has
seen the world as it is. The world is governed by deception; in
church, in state, in all the departments of social life; and if you
have been deceived by any statements which might have been given to
allure you to the altar, we have all been deceived since your return
from it."

"Not by me, Sir."

"No, Madam, but by your father."

"My father! no! impossible! As he is too humane to reproach, he is
too sincere to deceive."

"Why, we all expected, when the marriage was over, that he would
provide handsomely for you."

"I have no doubt that he will, ultimately, but I never gave you any
reason to expect it."

"But we _did_ expect it, and I think we have a _right_ to expect it.
Can he suppose that my son is to meet all the expenses which you and
your family may bring upon him, without receiving some assistance!
If he do, he is deceived, and will entail on you and himself
disgrace and misery."

"But you know, Colonel," said Mrs. Orme, "it is no use to wound the
feelings of dear Emma so much. If Charles is in trouble, I know she
will do what she can to assist him, without being very particular
respecting the cause of his difficulties; and I would propose,
without any farther remarks on this very painful question, that she
write to her father on the subject, or give her consent for you to
write."

"What are his difficulties?" inquired Emma.

"O dear, only a small account which he is obliged to pay
immediately."

"And cannot he pay a small account?"

"Why, my dear, he has had to settle several lately, which has taken
from him all his ready money."

"How much is this small account?"

"O, only about £200."

"And do you consider this a trifling sum to owe one tradesman?"

"Certainly, my dear, for a gentleman of his profession."

"Well," said Emma, "I will have some conversation with Charles on
the subject when he returns; and we will decide on the adoption of
some plan."

"Why, my dear, I am sorry to inform you, that he is at present
detained by the formalities of the law."

"Detained by the formalities of the law! I do not understand you."

"Perhaps not; but he cannot return home till the money is paid or
some security is given that it shall be paid."

"Then, where is he?"

"Why, my dear, it will afford you no pleasure if I tell you. You had
better not press the question."

"But I must press the question; and I must request to know where he
is."

"Well, my dear, since you must have it, the gentleman who waited
on him for the payment of the money, has very kindly given him
permission to stay in his house till it is paid."

"What! is he in prison?"

"No, not exactly in prison; only the formalities of the law require
that he should remain with the gentleman till the money is paid."

"Can I see him?"

"Why, you had better not. You had better write to your father on the
business, or let the Colonel write."

"Then let the Colonel write, for I can never consent to tell such a
tale to my father, after having treated his remonstrances with so
much contempt; and violating my most solemn pledge, that I would
never suffer myself to be beguiled again from the path of duty."

The Colonel wrote to Mr. Holmes, requesting that he would give his
daughter some portion of her fortune; delicately hinting at the
temporary embarrassments of her husband; soliciting, at the same
time, the honour of an interview, when he had no doubt, but some
expedient could be devised to bring about a friendly reconciliation,
by which the happiness of both families might be placed on a
substantial basis. To this letter Mr. Holmes replied, that he felt
it his duty to make every provision in his power for the personal
comfort of his daughter; but no circumstances should induce him to
pay the enormous debts which he knew her husband had contracted by
a course of extravagant profligacy; and while he was willing to
admit her under his roof, it was not his intention ever to form the
most distant intimacy with a family who had acted with such cruel
duplicity towards his child, and sacrificed her happiness for life.

On the receipt of this letter, the Ormes were thrown into the
greatest degree of perplexity; and though they did not read it to
Emma, because it contained some severe reflections on their conduct,
yet they judged it expedient to inform her, that Mr. Holmes refused
to comply with their request. "You must now, my dear, apply for some
cash," said Mrs. Orme, "as you will soon want many conveniences,
which it will not be in Charles's power to procure, and I would
advise you to press for a generous remittance." This application,
however, was rendered unnecessary, as a few days afterwards, she
received a letter from her father, inclosing a draft for £30 for her
own use, and informing her, that if she preferred being confined at
the Elms, everything was ready for her reception.

She now began to see the extreme delicacy of her situation, and to
feel the direful consequences of her own imprudence; but she had no
friend in whom she could confide or who could sympathize with her
misfortunes. Her mind was in a state of perpetual anxiety, often
deeply wounded by the neglect, or unkind looks and expressions of
those who once professed the utmost degree of affection--with the
near prospect, too, of becoming a mother, without a home, or any
provision for herself or child, except by returning to her father's
house--a step which she contemplated at present with extreme
reluctance.

After an absence of several days, Captain Orme returned home in
high spirits, informing his wife that he had had an interview with
her father, who very generously forgave him, and drew a check on
his banker for £300. "Now," said the Captain, "I'll give you a
proof of my honour. I'll take you to the bank, you shall receive
the cash, and pay yourself the £50, which necessity compelled me to
appropriate to my own use."

"No, Charles," replied his wife, "if my father has forgiven you, so
will I; and still indulge the hope, that our union, which has been
embittered with grief, may yet prove a source of mutual felicity. I
request that no further allusion be made to the money."

"Indeed, I cannot be happy unless you allow me to redeem my honour,
which stands pledged to you for it. You must consent to take it,
and I'll accompany you to the bank. You will wound me if you make
another objection."

She entertained no doubt of the truth of his statement; and they
accordingly drove to town together the following morning. Just as
they were going into the bank, he said, "There's a friend whom I
have been anxious to see some months; you will step in and get the
cash, and after I have seen him, I will return and meet you."

As she was well known to one of the partners in the banking firm,
who had often visited at the Elms, the check was honoured without
much inspection; and having the money, she gave her husband £250,
and then begged his acceptance of the £50, as an expression of
her attachment. With this sum he paid the debt for which he was
arrested; and prevented another arrest which he had been daily
expecting.

Things now wore a brighter aspect, and the unsuspecting Emma was
induced to decline accepting her father's offer; choosing to be
confined at the Colonel's, where she could enjoy the society of
her husband, without giving any trouble to the members of her own
family. Though often pressed to pay a visit to the Elms, she had
always deferred doing so; but she now proposed a visit to express
the pleasure she felt in prospect of a reconciliation between the
two families. On mentioning this, however, to her husband, he urged
her not to do it till after her confinement, saying, "The heir will
be our advocate, and heal the breach." The eventful time drew near,
and everything necessary for the occasion had been sent, with a
pressing invitation to spend a few weeks at home, as soon as she was
capable of doing so.

"I am happy to inform you," said her husband, a few weeks after the
occurrences above narrated, "that I have had another interview with
your father; after expressing his good wishes for your welfare,
and requesting that I would accompany you to the Elms after your
convalescence, he very generously said, that as our expenses
just now must be very heavy, and he wished you to have the best
professional advice, and every comfort that money could procure, he
would beg my acceptance of this check for £400. Now, my dear Emma,
we will go to town in the morning, and you shall get the cash, and
do what you like with it." This was accordingly done in the course
of the following day.

At night the family retired to rest as usual; but about midnight
they were disturbed, and ere day-break the birth of a fine boy
was announced. The news was immediately despatched to the Elms,
with a particular request from Mrs. Charles Orme, that her sister
Louisa would come to see her. The interview was interesting and
affecting; for though the two sisters bore no resemblance to each
other in taste or in disposition, yet their attachment was mutual;
and increased on this occasion by the influence of misfortune and
sorrow. Miss Holmes remained at Redhill nearly three weeks; and on
her return, when detailing the incidents of her visit, she referred
to her father's generosity to Captain Orme.

"Indeed, my dear," said Mr. Holmes, "I have done nothing which has
not been previously agreed upon by us."

"Why, father, it is very good in you to speak so of your generosity
to Captain Orme. We were rather surprised, however, at your not even
mentioning to us that you had seen him."

"I have not seen Captain Orme since the day of his marriage, and I
am at a loss to conceive to what acts of generosity you refer."

"Not seen him, Papa! why, have you not given him two drafts on your
banker, for a considerable amount?"

"I never did anything of the kind! You must be dreaming, Louisa."

"Emma informed me that you had; and that she went, at her husband's
urgent request, and got them cashed."

"Then he has forged my check; and again imposed on the credulity of
our dear child."

He immediately rode off to his banker's, and found forged checks
to the amount of £700. This discovery involved the family in great
distress; but they resolved not to take any steps in the business
till they had seen Emma, which they expected to do in the course
of a few days. On the morning she left for the Elms, Captain
Orme requested that she would make no allusion to her father's
generosity, as he did not wish it to be known. As she had already,
however, mentioned the circumstance to Louisa, the request came too
late, and Mr. Holmes, as above-mentioned, had now become aware of
the villainy of his son-in-law. His resolve to question Emma on the
subject, after her arrival, was abandoned, on witnessing the joy
which she displayed on again meeting with her parents and sisters.
The family all agreed that it would be cruelty to broach the matter
at present, and that it had better be deferred to some more fitting
opportunity.

Mrs. Orme had been at home a month, and was preparing to return to
Redhill, when her father took an opportunity of asking her who it
was she saw at the bank, how often she had been there, what sums of
money she had received, and what circumstances induced her to go.
To all these questions she replied in very direct terms, and when
she had finished, expressed her gratitude to her father for his
kindness, and hoped that now he would consent to be reconciled to
her husband.

"Your husband, my child, has been pursuing one uniform plan of
deception, from the time he first saw you to the present hour; and
though this last instance of his duplicity is not the most fatal to
your happiness, it is certainly the most hazardous for his own. I
gave him no drafts, nor have I seen him since your marriage."

"Not seen him, father!"

"No."

"Nor given him any checks!"

"Never."

"How in the world did he get them then?"

"He has forged my name, Emma, and made you the innocent agent in his
villainy."

"And is it possible! Am I the wife of such a man!"

"Such a man is your husband; and if the law now take its course, he
will be liable to transportation for life."

"O! father, spare Charles. Have mercy on your poor Emma; though he
were the most wicked man alive, he is still my husband."

"I shall refrain from prosecuting him; but it will be necessary to
put a stop to such a system of fraud."

"O! my father, what will now become of me and my babe!"

"You have left your home once, my child, without my consent, but I
hope you will not leave it again."

"Never, father! if you will permit me to remain, though I fear my
presence will be a source of perpetual anxiety."

Mr. Holmes, after deliberating on the matter, sent the following
letter to Captain Orme, unsealed, in an envelope, addressed to the
Colonel:--

     "SIR,--I have seen the forged checks which you got cashed at my
     banker's; and on inquiry find that you induced my daughter to
     present them, by telling her that I had given them to you, as
     a token of my reconciliation. I presume you are aware of the
     consequences to which you have subjected yourself; though you
     may suppose that a regard for my daughter's feelings, and the
     reputation of her child, will induce me to forego a prosecution.
     I have, however, to warn you against the repetition of such
     a base and hazardous course, for there are bounds which the
     tenderest humanity will not suffer to be passed with impunity. I
     should hope, for the honour of your father's character, that he
     was ignorant of the crime which you have committed; but I fear
     you are not the only person that is involved in the guilt of its
     commission."

To this letter he received the following reply the next day:--

     "SIR,--You say you have detected my fraud, and express your fear
     that I am not the only person that is involved in the guilt of
     it. Very true, Sir. Your own daughter suggested to me this mode
     of getting at some portion of her fortune--procured the blank
     checks--and went herself and got them cashed; and now you are at
     liberty to let the law take its course, if you please. She is
     unfortunately my wife; and as she is once more under your roof,
     I hope she will remain there till I send for her, which will not
     be till you are induced to give her a fortune equal to my rank,
     as I was fully entitled to expect on marrying her. My father,
     who feels too indignant at your base insinuation to reply to it,
     begs me to say, that he does not choose to admit your daughter
     into his house again. You will, therefore, permit me to return
     your own compliment, by saying, that all intimacy between our
     families has ceased, and you may be assured, that I regret that
     any intimacy was ever formed.--Your obedient servant,

     "CHARLES ORME."

This letter confirmed the suspicions which had been, for a long
time, excited in the breast of Mrs. Charles Orme; and though the
open avowal of her husband's baseness produced a painful impression,
yet it decided the course which necessity compelled her to adopt;
and she could not forbear sending him the subjoined letter:--

     "MY HUSBAND,--I cannot, in justice to myself, remain silent,
     after reading your letter to my father--a letter which is a
     very natural sequel to your perfidious conduct. That you should
     feel at liberty to charge upon me the baseness of suggesting
     the crime of which you have been guilty, is more than I could
     have imagined; but it has relieved me from that bitter regret
     which I should otherwise feel in being separated from you
     for life. You have betrayed me--you have reproached me--you
     have insulted me--but this, it appears, is not enough: you
     now try to disgrace me. Have you lost all sense of honour?
     Does no feeling of generous sensibility move in your breast?
     Are you become an alien from every virtuous principle? and do
     you wish, if possible, to sink me into contempt, after having
     abandoned me and your child? I feel too indignant to throw
     back the reproaches which you have cast on me. I have a home,
     and a peaceful one, and you may rely upon it, that no false
     professions of attachment shall ever again induce me to leave
     it. I am unable to judge of your state of mind; but if you have
     the slightest degree of remorse left, conscience must reproach
     you bitterly.--Your much injured

     "EMMA."

I shall now anticipate my narrative a little, and conclude the
history of Captain Orme. Soon after sending the preceding letter to
Mr. Holmes, he obtained a military appointment in the East Indies,
through the influence of Lord ----; and immediately embarked,
without making any communication to his wife, or expressing any wish
to see his infant child. She knew not the place of his destination
for nearly two years after he had left his native country, when
she received a letter from him. On opening the letter she very
naturally expected to find some relentings for his past unkindness,
and some promises of future amendment, but she was disappointed.
The influence of time, which generally softens down the asperities
of temper, and brings about a cordial reconciliation between the
most hostile parties, had only increased the malevolence of his
disposition; and as though he had not already inflicted a wound
sufficiently deep, he now proceeded to the most heartless and
unmanly abuse. He accused her of infidelity; reproached her for her
attachment to her own family, whom he reviled in the lowest terms;
and concluded by saying, that she might now put on her weeds, as it
was not his intention of ever returning to claim her as his wife, or
even to acknowledge as his son the child she had borne.

As she still cherished an attachment for him, notwithstanding his
cruel treatment, and had indulged the forlorn hope of seeing him
reclaimed from the paths of evil, the contents of this letter
produced at first a deep melancholy; but as she had now begun to
derive consolation from a source of happiness which is concealed
from the eye of the gay and the dissipated, she soon regained her
composure, though she ceased not to pray for her erring husband.
At length the report of his death reached her through the medium
of a friend. She wept when she heard of his decease, and expressed
a strong anxiety to know the cause of it. Many inquiries were
made, but no information could be obtained, till she received a
letter from a military officer who had known him in the East.
This gentleman spoke in high terms of his courage, and of the
important services which he had rendered to the government of India;
expressing, at the same time, his regret that he fell a victim, not
to the sword, but to his habits of intemperance, which became so
inveterate, that neither reason nor authority could subdue them.
Thus terminated a union planned by treachery, which a perverse will
led Emma Holmes to contract, but which she lived to regret with
bitter and unavailing sorrow.

Her husband's cruelty, in first abandoning his wife and child,
without bidding them adieu, and then insulting her by his base
accusations, was not more flagrant and unjust than his perfidy
in first inducing her to become his wife. Though pity could not
withhold the sympathy which her sufferings excited, yet every
impartial spectator was compelled to acknowledge that she had
brought them on herself by her own imprudence. And though such
instances of cruelty and treachery are frequently occurring in
the history of human life, and though they are held up by the
moralist as beacons to warn the incautious female of the danger to
which she is exposed, yet how often, alas! do we see such warnings
disregarded. Women are too often smitten by external appearances,
and too easily imposed upon by the artful tales of the perfidious
and the crafty, to listen to the advice of their best friends. Thus
braving the opposition of their parents, they plunge themselves into
a state of misery, without having, as a melancholy alleviation to
their anguish, the solitary consolation that they were not apprized
of their danger. I have seen, in my passage through life, many
fine characters wrecked on this fatal rock, and wish to guard the
thoughtless and inexperienced from a similar catastrophe, and though
I cannot suppose that I shall be able to change the purpose, when
it is once formed, yet I do not despair of exciting some degree of
precaution in the unfettered and uncorrupted mind.

As that union, which is ordained to be the source of the purest
felicity, or of the bitterest anguish, and which nothing but death
or guilt can dissolve, is the most important that can be formed,
no one ought to propose it, or consent to it, till after the most
mature deliberation. In some instances it has been known that
_short_ courtships have led to happy marriages; but the instances
are comparatively few. Two persons accidentally meet--strangers
to each other--an offer of marriage is made, and immediately
accepted; a few weeks of intercourse, or of correspondence elapse,
and they are united for life. Can such a hasty union, which has
taken place while the parties have been almost entirely ignorant
of each other, be expected to yield much domestic felicity? It
may, but the chances are against it; as the history of social life
demonstrates this fact, that domestic happiness is less dependent on
the agreeableness of each other's persons, than on the harmony of
each other's disposition; and though a magic charm often renders us
blind to the defects of the beloved object, this blissful dream is
soon dissipated when the wedded pair come to seek their happiness
in the amiability of each other's tempers, and the goodness of each
other's principles. And considering the immense importance of this
correspondence in mental taste, tendencies, and inclinations, as a
source of permanent domestic happiness, and the amazing diversity
of tempers and dispositions which is known to prevail amongst human
beings, will a wise man, or will a prudent female, venture to risk
their felicity for life by a sudden and precipitate union? What!
shall we deem it necessary to institute a severe inquiry respecting
the temper, and disposition, and principles of the servants we take
into our dwellings, and whom we may dismiss at our pleasure; and
think that no such inquiry is necessary in relation to the person
to whom we are to be united for life--who is to be our comfort or
our torment, the means of elevating us to honour or sinking us into
contempt! Would this be an act of wisdom or of discretion?

And is it not to be regretted that the period of courtship, which
is intended to give to the parties an opportunity of judging of
their fitness for each other, is usually the period in which the
greatest degree of duplicity prevails? It may be justly denominated
the intermediate state between the two conditions in human life,
over which the evil spirit of deception presides--investing the
character with imaginary charms--softening down rugged and uncouth
tempers into the smoothness of the most subduing tenderness--curbing
restless and ungovernable passions with the restraints of a crafty
policy--and giving such a fascination to external graces, that they
are received as substitutes for the most solid and substantial
virtues. This is the fatal period, when suspicion is usually
asleep; when a slowness of heart to believe the rumours of report
becomes proverbial; and it is not till the parties emerge from
this delusion, to the realities of married life, and resume their
real character, that they discover the deception they have been
practising on each other. Then the work of mutual recrimination and
reproach commences. Then it is their eyes are opened to see their
folly and their danger, but their repentance, like that of Esau's,
comes too late to repair the evil which they have brought upon
themselves.

As the period of courtship is the most dangerous in the history
of life, because the most deceptive, those who wish to enjoy a
state of permanent domestic happiness, cannot, at this period, be
too observant of each other's tempers and dispositions, or too
inquisitive respecting each other's connections and manners. If
they now discover a dissonance in any of these particulars, they
would act a wiser part to separate by mutual consent, than to form
a union which will inevitably become a fruitful source of misery,
and may terminate in disgrace, if not in ruin. Some severe moralists
contend, that when an offer of marriage has been given and accepted,
no circumstances will justify either party in withdrawing from their
pledge, but that it ought to be held as sacred and as obligatory
as the marriage vow. Though the writer would not hazard an opinion
which would tend to sanction a wanton inconstancy, yet he claims
the privilege of differing from such casuists. For what purpose
has the unanimous consent of mankind required some period of time
to elapse, after the offer has been made, before it is formally,
and for life decided? Is it not that the contracting parties may
have an opportunity of judging of their relative fitness for each
other? If not, they may pass at once to the nuptial altar, after
mutually consenting to their union; but if it be, they are invested
with a moral right to revise their decision, when fresh discoveries
of character are made, which change their opinions, and diminish,
if not alienate their affections. Suppose a gentleman makes a lady
an offer, and she accepts it, under a firm conviction that he is
a man of honour, of integrity, of virtue, and of prudence, whose
disposition is amiable, whose circumstances are respectable, and
who is capable of maintaining her in the rank in which she has
been accustomed to move. Suppose that on a subsequent inquiry,
she finds out that these sterling qualities do not adorn his
character--that he is violent in his passions--and that his means
to support a family are not adequate to its demands. If she is now
convinced that by consummating the union, her happiness for life
will be sacrificed, ought she to be compelled to do so? She may be
censured for giving her consent too hastily; but is a consent given
under false impressions, and while in a state of total or partial
ignorance, to be binding, when she discovers the delusion which has
been practised on her, and sees nothing but misery and wretchedness
before her? I think it is not. If Emma Holmes, when she returned
the letters and presents to Captain Orme, had never more consented
to see him, would any wise or prudent person have passed a sentence
of condemnation on her conduct? No! Why not? Because she had given
her consent under false impressions of his character; but after her
marriage, though that took place under the same false impressions,
she was bound by the laws of God and man to remain his wife.

But as there is always some risk of reputation, and sometimes
some pecuniary risk, in breaking off an engagement which has been
formed, it should not be done hastily, nor for trifling reasons.
Though the mutual pledge is less binding than the nuptial vow, yet
if it be treated with levity and contempt, society will resent the
insult which is offered to its sense of delicacy and of honour. The
faithless and inconstant will be marked out as the objects of its
censure and reproaches. And no censures can be too severe, nor any
reproaches be too bitter, to be directed against the man who gains
the affections of a female, and then abandons her from caprice; or
against that female, who acts the part of a coquette, by giving
pledges she never intends to redeem, and exciting expectations she
has resolved to disappoint. And this risk ought to operate as a
powerful motive to induce the utmost degree of caution when making
or when accepting an offer. As the right of overture is claimed
and exercised by man, he is supposed to institute every necessary
inquiry before he makes his election, and to be perfectly satisfied
that the female whose friendship and whose affection he courts
is capable of promoting his happiness; and though on a closer
intimacy he may discover some shades of imperfection which were not
visible when he first knew her, yet if they are only the ordinary
imperfections which belong to the human character, he would act
an unwise, if not a criminal part, by making them the ostensible
cause of breaking off the connection. We should ever remember, that
the nuptial vow always unites two imperfect beings, whose mutual
imperfections will call for the exercise of mutual candour; and
when pure and ardent love glows in the breast of each, they will
bear with each other's failings, and strive to promote each other's
happiness.

It is then, in the opinion of the writer, only when some radical
defect is discovered in the character--some strong repulsive
quality, or some untoward and ungovernable passion--that the
male sex, who exercise the prerogative of choice, ought to feel
at liberty to disengage themselves, unless the female give her
unqualified approbation. In that case the connection may be
dissolved at any time, as it cannot be supposed that a marriage
between two persons who are willing to separate for life can be
productive of happiness.

But without acting capriciously, or presuming to encroach on the
principle of equity, I should be disposed to concede to the female
sex a greater degree of liberty on this point. When an offer is made
to a lady, she may feel no reluctance to it--the person who makes it
may be agreeable to her, and, by the ardour of solicitation, she may
be induced to yield assent to the proposed union. She may do this
before her modesty allows her to make those inquiries respecting
temper, disposition, principles, and resources, which the gentleman
is supposed to have made before he ventured to disclose his wishes.
She may have been pressed to a compliance before she acquired that
specific information which would justify and sanction it; and which,
if advantage had not been taken of her amiable weakness, she would
have withheld till she had obtained it. And perhaps, in addition to
this, she has been induced to conceal the overture from her parents,
or her guardians, till some convenient season should arrive to make
it known--that convenient season being to be determined, less by the
decision of her own mind, than the mind of her lover. When these
circumstances occur in the history of a courtship, though I would
not say that the lady is quite as free to reject the offer, as she
was when it was first made, yet I think she is more at liberty to
decline it, than the gentleman who made it. Yet she ought not to
act capriciously, nor ought she to sport with the feelings of the
person to whom she has given her promise; but slighter reasons for
breaking off the connection will justify her in doing so, than those
which will justify him. She may discover no radical defect in his
character, yet she may perceive "the flaw unseemly"--she may behold
no predominating principle of evil, yet she may see its corrupting
influence--she may feel no strong repulsive qualities, yet her
affections may die off, while she knows not the cause--she may
witness no sallies of an ungovernable passion, yet she may strongly
suspect the amiability of his temper--she may not be able to find
out any fixed habits of inconsistency, or positive vice, and yet she
may be convinced that her happiness would be sacrificed for life if
she consented to the proposed union.

A question now arises in which both parties are deeply interested.
Ought a female to marry when she feels conscious that she cannot be
happy with the person who wishes her to become his wife? or would it
be an act of wisdom, or prudence, or of piety, in a man to drag a
victim to the altar, who feels an abhorrence, not to the ceremony,
but to its appalling consequences? No. As mutual love is the only
substantial basis of the union, where that does not exist, the union
ought not to be consummated; and though some evils generally result
from a dissolution of the mutual pledge, yet they are fewer and less
awful and destructive than those which follow a marriage without
affection--or when the affection of one has to struggle against the
cool indifference or positive dislike of the other.

And if circumstances should render it imperatively necessary that
either party should break off the connection, this should be done in
the most delicate and honourable manner. The reasons in most cases
should be expressly and unequivocally stated; all vacillation should
be conscientiously avoided; no words of reproach or invective should
be uttered; and for their mutual credit they should speak of each
other among their friends in terms of respect.

But let no female expect that a libertine in principle, or a
rake in practice, will ever make a kind and attentive husband,
notwithstanding any professions he may make. Her charms may for a
season operate as a spell on his passions, and he may, under their
powerful influence, appear "a new creature." The company of the
dissolute may be forsaken for the pleasure of her society; and the
habits of vice may be broken off while he is courting the living
image of virtue; but his character will remain the same. He may
affect to deplore his past follies, and he may speak in praise of
goodness and of religion, but, unless his _heart_ is changed, he
will soon give ocular proof that he is the same man as when he made
an open mock of sin, and publicly contemned righteousness. That
some who have been dissolute in their early days have become the
ornaments of society, good husbands, kind parents, and faithful
friends, is a fact too generally known to be doubted; but their
reformation has usually preceded their marriage--rarely followed
it. They have separated themselves from evil-doers, and they
have learned to do well, before they have dared to solicit the
affections of a virtuous female; and then having re-established
their character, and fixed their habits of goodness and of religion,
they have lived to repair the injury they have done to their own
reputation and to the morals of others, by walking in a course of
exemplary consistency.

But there are no females who ought to be so cautious on this subject
as the children of pious parents. If they have imbibed the spirit
of pure and undefiled religion, they ought to marry _only in the
Lord_. No intellectual talents, no degrees of moral excellence, and
no resources of wealth, should induce them to a violation of this
positive injunction of the law of God. It would be, in addition to
an insult offered to Divine authority, a suicidal act in regard to
personal honour and happiness; uniform experience proving that the
intermarrying of the pious with the unconverted is followed by the
most disastrous social and spiritual consequences.

And if they are not decidedly pious, yet if they have been
accustomed to habits of religion, they ought not to calculate on
permanent happiness if they consent to marry a person who is an
avowed infidel, or one who cannot distinguish between the form of
godliness and its power. For such a marriage will separate the
woman from all intimate connection with her pious friends, and she
will thus become to them a source of deep and poignant sorrow. But
this, though an evil which a daughter ought to guard against, out
of respect to the feelings of her parents, is a minor evil, when
compared with the influence it will have over her own mind. The
irreligion of her husband will tolerate none of the customs with
which she has been so long familiar--no family prayer--no reading
of the Scripture--no reverential references to God--to Providence,
or to an eternal world--the Sabbath will be employed as a day of
business, or of indolence, or of pleasure--or if the husband attend
a place of worship, he will go, not

        "Where the violated law speaks out
    Its thunders; and where, in strains as sweet
    As angels use, the gospel whispers peace;"

but where

    "The things that mount the rostrum with a skip,
     And then skip down again; pronounce a text,--
     Cry hem; and reading what they never wrote,
     Just fifteen minutes huddle up their work,
     And with a well-bred whisper close the scene."

Can this strange change take place without producing some ill
effect? will she be satisfied and contented? will conscience never
reproach her? will she have no misgivings? will the days of her life

            "----glide softly o'er her head,
    Made up of innocence?"

Will she never institute a comparison between her present home,
and that in which she drew her infant breath, and spent the years
of childhood and of youth? Will she never contrast the piety of
her father with the irreligion of her husband?--the devotional
lessons of her mother with her present course of life? But suppose
she should outlive all reverence and respect for the habits of
domestic religion, which she has been accustomed to revere and
observe from the days of childhood, and yield herself to the
beguiling fascinations of gaiety and worldliness, what will be her
reflections and feelings in the hours of sickness, and from whence
can she derive consolation and hope when death approaches? Ah, it
is _then_ the secrets of her soul will speak out! it is _then_
that her criminal folly will appear in all its aggravated forms of
guilt! it is _then_ she will revert to her former home, her earlier
associations, her pristine impressions of religious truth. Alas! she
now goes back to these scenes, not for comfort, but for torture;
not to gather up the fragments of hope, but to give a keener point
to her desponding fears; to call back "joys that are departed," and
to increase the intensity of her mental anguish, by contrasting it
with the happiness she once enjoyed. Yet, if she discloses what
she feels, she is either ridiculed for her superstitious folly, or
suspected of partial derangement--as no one understands her case.
She lingers through the last stages of her life in sorrow and in
sadness, the victim of self-consuming anxieties and grief; and may
die in agonizing apprehension, if not in absolute despair.



THE VILLAGE CHAPEL.


The painful and prolonged excitement occasioned by Emma's unhappy
marriage, and its disastrous consequences, so greatly impaired the
health of Mrs. and Miss Holmes, that a change of air and scene was
deemed absolutely necessary. Dawlish, their favourite retreat, was
thought of, and they were making preparations for their departure
thither, when a letter arrived from Mr. Newell, Mr. Holmes'
son-in-law, in Warwickshire,[26] announcing that the new chapel
which Mr. Holmes had been the means of rearing near his native
place, was all but completed, and inviting them to spend some time
with him, and be present on the opening day. This induced them to
change their mind. "I certainly," said Mr. Holmes, "ought to go, to
witness the accomplishment of my design." "And we," said his wife
and daughter, "should very much like to accompany you; we may thus
reap a spiritual benefit while endeavouring to recruit our bodily
health."

  [26] Vol. ii. p. 129.

The village of Lynnbridge, Warwickshire, near which Mr. Newell
resided, was delightfully situated on the slope of a hill,
commanding an extensive and beautiful prospect. At the foot winded
the Lynn, much renowned as an excellent trouting stream, and here
crossed by a handsome stone bridge, over which lay the highroad to
London. A narrow lane, richly adorned in summer with dog-roses and
other wild flowers, led to the village above, which was rather of
a straggling description, without any principal street. The houses
were for the most part of a humble order, few rising to the dignity
of two stories, but all displaying that air of neatness and comfort
which so distinguishes our English villages above those of any other
country. Each had a flower garden in front, very prettily kept; and
the cottages, which were generally white-washed and thatched, had
their walls often adorned with vines, ivy, or honey-suckle. At the
extremity of the village, looking down upon the river, stood the
parish church, a venerable Gothic edifice, with its churchyard,
encircled by a row of ancient yew trees. Adjoining the church was
the rectory, a picturesque and comfortable-looking old English
mansion, with its pointed gables, well cultivated garden, and rather
extensive pleasure grounds. Shady lanes led in all directions to the
surrounding country; the prospect of which, as already mentioned,
was of the most charming nature, comprehending an endless variety
of hill and dale, wood and corn-fields, and reminding the gazer
unconsciously of Cowper's lines--

    "'Tis pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,
     To peep at such a world."

The population was for the most part agricultural, but there
were some gentlemen's seats in the neighbourhood, besides a few
farm-houses, and several villas with a few acres of ground attached
to each.

Whether humanity is more depraved in a city than in a village,
still remains an open question; but I have uniformly found that in
both, the old and the young evince the same predilection for what
is evil, and the same antipathies to what is pure; and if left
without any enlightening and regenerating process, will bear a
striking resemblance to each other in the great outlines of their
moral character. Observation proves, I think, that the city, by its
more varied attractions, facilitates the broader and more marked
development of the essential depravity of our common nature. Yet in
the inhabitants of a village we not unfrequently discover appalling
ignorance, with its consequent vices of impiety, profanity, and
intemperance, associated with extreme vulgarity of manners; an
abject submissiveness to their superiors, and an extreme rudeness in
their intercourse with each other.

In regard to moral and social features, Lynnbridge was a very fair
specimen of an English village, neither better nor worse than the
average number; it had its church and its rector, its wardens to
attend to ecclesiastical matters, and its overseer to look after the
poor. There was no school, however, for the training of the young
in the way in which they should go; nor had the pure gospel of the
grace of God ever been preached to the people. In the neighbourhood
of this village, Mr. Newell had taken a farm, and been settled there
a few years before the date of the occurrences which I intend to
narrate.

The farm rented by Mr. Holmes' father, and on which he had been
born and brought up, was situated a few miles from Lynnbridge, and
from old associations he naturally took an interest in the village.
On one of his visits to his son-in-law, he was much shocked with
the appearance which it presented on a Sabbath evening. The large
green on the banks of the river was crowded by the youth of both
sexes, devoting the sacred hours of the day of rest to various
popular sports, while their seniors filled the public-houses. Loud
bursts of laughter were heard from all quarters, and he learned
that brawls and boxing matches were by no means of rare occurrence.
It was while contemplating this scene of disorder that Mr. Holmes
formed the praiseworthy resolution of having a chapel built, and
supporting the minister till the people were able and felt disposed
to do so themselves. As soon as he made known his determination,
his son-in-law, and several other gentlemen, voluntarily offered to
co-operate with him. One gave a piece of land, another supplied part
of the timber, and others subscribed their money; and though some
ridiculed the design, and a few interdicted their tenants and their
labourers from assisting in its accomplishment, yet, like the Hebrew
temple, the chapel gradually rose, in spite of all opposition, till
at length it was finally completed.

Having heard that the Rector of the parish was much displeased
with this projected encroachment on his ecclesiastical province,
Mr. Holmes called on him, to explain the reason and motives of his
conduct, and though he failed in obtaining his concurrence, yet he
was assured that he would offer no opposition, as he held sacred the
principle of unrestricted religious liberty. He returned from this
interview more gratified than he expected he should be, having found
the old Rector an amiable and intelligent man, far advanced beyond
many of his order in the catholic liberality of his opinions and
principles.

The chapel was finished within the space of six months; and when
every preparation was made for opening it, Mr. Newell, as already
mentioned, sent notice to Mr. Holmes, who accordingly set out for
Warwickshire, accompanied by his wife and eldest daughter. On
arriving at Lynnbridge they found Mr. Newell waiting with his chaise
to take them to Thornwood, about two miles distant, where they were
received with the greatest joy by Mrs. Newell, the second daughter
of the Holmes family, whom neither her mother nor sister had seen
for a considerable time. After the first greetings were over, the
conversation, as might be expected, turned on the late unhappy
occurrences in the family, in connection with Emma's marriage.
Then the subject of the new chapel, which was to be opened on the
ensuing Sabbath, was introduced by Mr. Newell, who informed his
father-in-law that the opposition raised against the measure had
gradually died away, and some of the most violent and bigoted of its
opponents had been brought to admit, that it was likely to prove
advantageous to the morals of the people. After some discussion of
this topic, which served to divert their attention from more painful
matters, Mr. Newell assembled his household for evening worship, and
shortly afterwards the family retired to rest.

The following days were employed by the ladies in visiting the
dairy, the garden, the poultry-yard, and examining other objects of
rural interest; and by Mr. Holmes and his son-in-law in rambling
over the farm, and discussing the various agricultural operations
then in progress. At length the Sabbath morning dawned on which
the chapel was to be dedicated to God. Mr. Holmes rose at an early
hour, but was rather disappointed to find the sky looking dark and
lowering; on going, however, into the fold-yard, he met the old
shepherd, who, on being asked his opinion of the weather, quietly
surveyed the sky, and said, "I think, Sir, the dark clouds will blow
off, and we shall have a fine day." This remark quite raised his
spirits, as the shepherd was considered a sort of weather prophet,
and this time at all events his words proved true, for as the
morning advanced the clouds began to disperse, the bees were seen
passing and repassing the parlour window; and just after the family
had finished breakfast, the sun burst from the dark mantle in which
he had been enveloped, and diffused his bright and enlivening rays.

"It is a pleasant thing," said Mr. Holmes, "to see the sun; but I
have never gazed on it with more delight than at this moment."

"A fine emblem," Miss Holmes replied, "of Him, who sometimes in an
unexpected moment breaks in upon the midnight of the soul; and who,
I trust, will arise and shine on the inhabitants of this benighted
village, and bless them with the light of life and immortality."

The chapel, a neat plain structure, was erected on a piece of
freehold land, near the bank of the river, where the villagers had
been accustomed to spend the sacred hours of the Sabbath in riotous
amusement. It was crowded to excess, many persons having come from a
great distance to be present at the opening. The Rev. Mr. Broadley
of B---- commenced the service by reading a hymn, which was sung
with great animation and delight. This was followed by reading
the Scriptures, and prayer; and then the Rev. Mr. Wyatt, who had
arrived for the occasion from London, preached a very beautiful and
impressive sermon from John iii. 16--"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."

"I am not aware," he remarked, after he had repeated his text,
"that I could have selected a more important, or a more interesting
passage than that which I have just read. So powerfully does it
exhibit the love of God towards fallen man, that though I could
speak with an eloquence equal to that of an angel, I should be
incapable of doing it adequate justice. God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son; and yet, by many, this gift is
esteemed as a thing of nought; and all references which are made
to its immense value, are regarded as the sallies or excesses of a
disordered imagination, or a mean and contemptible fanaticism. He
has 'so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life.' But alas! the danger which awaits us is disbelieved; and the
happiness the Son of God came to bestow is despised."

Mr. Wyatt divided his text in the following order:--

I. The moral condition of men, of every rank, and of every
description of character, is alarming.

II. To deliver them from this state of moral danger was the express
design of our Lord's mission.

III. Such is the tenderness of his compassion, that whosoever
believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

IV. Saving us from the misery which we deserve, by the gift of his
only begotten Son, is a most astonishing display of the love of God.

When speaking under the second division of his sermon, on the design
of our Lord's mission, he delivered the following passage, which
made a deep impression on the audience:--

"Had one of the highest orders of angels assumed a human form, and
announced to us some scheme of redemption from evil and from ruin,
it would have been on our part an act of folly and ingratitude to
have treated the message of mercy with indifference. But, brethren,
no angel, however exalted, could redeem man from the curse of a
violated law, or conduct him to the repossession of that purity
and honour, from which, by transgression, he has fallen. Therefore
God gave his only begotten Son, who united in his own person every
attribute of Deity, and every perfection of humanity; displaying a
majesty, combined with a tenderness of character, which alternately
excite our awe and confidence. With what ease did he rule the
elements of nature--heal the maladies and disorders produced by
sin--recal the souls of the departed from the invisible world;
while, with all the familiarity and compassion of a near and beloved
friend, he mingles his tears of sympathy with the suffering mourner,
and diffuses the peace of heaven over the heart oppressed with
sorrow.

"Suppose, my brethren, one of the elders of Israel, after having
been present at the giving of the law at Sinai, and after having
seen and heard the mysterious sights and sounds on that mount
of awful majesty and terror, had then fallen into a trance, and
continued in that state till the night before the vision of the
shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem. Suppose he had then awoke
and been told, that the law, which had been given with so many
awful accompaniments, had been broken, and that the Lawgiver was
on the eve of sending his only begotten Son into the world--would
he not have concluded that his mission must be one of vengeance?
But no! 'God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved.' He gave his only
begotten Son that we might not perish, but have everlasting life.
What is it for man to perish? I cannot tell--I have never seen
the judgment-seat of Christ!--I have never beheld the awful glory
of that scene of terror!--I have never heard the final sentence,
Depart!--I have never been banished far and for ever away from
bliss!--I have not endured the agonies of the worm that never
dies!--the fire that is never quenched! Indeed, my brethren, I
cannot tell what it is to perish! It is a state of misery which no
imagery can represent--which no language can describe--which no
imagination can conceive.--'But have everlasting life!' It is life
which gives to every other possession its determinate value. For
what is beauty without life but a fading ornament? what is wealth
without life but a useless substance? what is honour without life
but a bursting bubble? Skin for skin, all that a man hath will he
give for his life. So much do we prize this invaluable possession,
that rather than lose it, we will consent to part with one limb,
and one sense after another, till all are gone. But, brethren, the
period is not far distant, when, like our forefathers, we must
resign it, and be numbered with the dead; yet Jesus Christ says,
that he that believeth in him shall never die. This promise must be
taken in a restricted sense, as his disciples are no less liable to
the visitations of death than his enemies. Their faith in him does
not operate as a charm to repeal the law of mortality; neither does
it exempt them from the diseases and pains which usually precede
its infliction. But though they die a natural death, yet they
immediately enter on the full enjoyment of eternal life--when they
dissolve their connection with the inhabitants of this world, they
become fellow-citizens with the saints in light--when they close
their eyes on this earthly scene, they open them on the visions of
celestial glory--and when their bodies are committed to the tomb,
their immortal spirits are enjoying that endless life, over which
death has no power. This life will be a life of perfect purity--of
perfect knowledge--and of perfect felicity; and will continue
unimpaired by sickness, and undisturbed by care, for ever and for
ever.

"And our text says, that _whosoever_ believeth in the Son of God
shall have everlasting life. No one is denied the invaluable
blessing on account of the obscurity of his origin, or the
inferiority of his rank; for though these circumstances of
distinction have a powerful effect on us, yet they have no influence
over the mind of the Saviour, who looks with as much benign regard
on a penitent villager as a repenting citizen; and is no less
willing to save a poor neglected pauper than the rich nobleman who
fares sumptuously every day. Whosoever believeth in him shall not
perish, but have everlasting life. The most debased, impure, and
worthless, if they truly lay hold of the Saviour, come within the
circle of this comprehensive promise, and have the same warrant to
expect forgiveness and final salvation, as the apostles of Jesus
Christ had. 'And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him
that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And
whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely' (Rev. xxii.
17)."

       *       *       *       *       *

A short time after the Village Chapel had been set apart for
the worship of God, and the Rev. Mr. Swinson, its minister, had
commenced the discharge of his regular services, a spirit of
opposition arose from a very unexpected quarter. Some of the more
respectable farmers, and two magistrates, waited on the clergyman of
the parish, to express their astonishment that he should give his
sanction to a measure, which, in their opinion, was calculated to
endanger the Church.

"Indeed, gentlemen," said the Rector, the Rev. Mr. Trevor, "I have
not sanctioned it. When Mr. Holmes called on me to explain his
motives for building the chapel, he said his object was to reform
the village. I expressed a wish that he might succeed in that
particular, but at the same time told him that I did not think he
would."

"Reform the village, Sir!" said one of the magistrates, "the village
wants no reformation. The people are honest, industrious, virtuous,
and happy; and what reformation do they require?"

"But they are rather remiss in their attendance at church; and they
have frequently pastimes on the green on a Sunday evening, which I
think ought not to be tolerated."

"Why, certainly, Sir, they do not attend the church quite so often
as they ought to do; but as for the pastimes on the green, I rather
think you must have received some exaggerated report of them, for I
candidly confess that I never saw anything to disapprove of."

"I have heard of their dancing on a Sunday evening," replied the
Rector, "and of many of them getting intoxicated, which you must
allow, gentlemen, are not very reputable engagements for a Sunday
evening."

"They are a cheerful, merry set of folks, Sir; and some of them may
sometimes take a little more ale than is good for them; but I never
saw anything in their amusements to disapprove of. Indeed, I think
the scene which the green presents on a Sunday evening is one of the
most picturesque which a country life can exhibit; displaying, as it
does, such varied lights and shades of rustic character. The young
and old intermingle together; and those who are too infirm to engage
in the innocent frolics of their youthful days, look on, while
others react the parts they once performed. The utmost degree of
hilarity prevails amongst them; and in these relaxations they forget
the toils and cares of the week."

"Well, gentlemen," replied Mr. Trevor, "I certainly think that the
poor, no less than the rich, ought to be left to choose their own
pleasures, without being controlled by others; and if any of them
prefer worshipping their Maker on a Sunday evening, to joining in a
public gambol, they ought to be permitted to do it. I cannot consent
to impose any restraint on the consciences of others, as I should
not like to submit to any restraint myself. Indeed, opposition
on our part would be both impolitic and unjust; the spirit of an
Englishman rises up in defiance against any interference with his
religious opinions, and his opposition becomes more decided and
more zealous in proportion to the efforts employed to restrain his
liberty of conscience."

Though these persons could not induce their amiable and intelligent
Rector to unite with them in their attempt to put down what they
termed _the new religion_, yet they resolved to employ all the
influence they possessed to accomplish their purpose. How to do it
in the most effectual way, and yet not involve themselves in any
hazardous responsibility, was a question which perplexed them. After
various discussions they resolved to prohibit all their tenants and
servants from attending the chapel--to withhold parish pay from
those paupers who went--and to refuse associating with the more
independent and respectable parishioners who gave it the sanction
of their presence. Having agreed on their plan of operation, they
proceeded to act on it with vigour, and the effects were immediately
felt; for on the following Sabbath the congregation assembling
at the new chapel was reduced to less than one-half of its usual
number. This determined opposition was rather discouraging; but
as yet Mr. Swinson and those who adhered to him were permitted to
remain unmolested. But a storm was gathering; and the evil spirits
who had set themselves against the introduction of evangelical
religion into the village, resolved to make one desperate effort to
expel it. Some of the baser sort were selected as the agents of the
plot; and everything being arranged, they came in a body on a Sunday
evening, and while Mr. Swinson was preaching, they entered the
chapel, and by their noise and tumultuous behaviour, compelled him
to desist and the people to retire. As he was quitting this scene of
confusion, he was grossly insulted, some of the rioters brandishing
their sticks over his head, and threatening that if he dared enter
the chapel again, he should not be permitted to escape with his
life.

[Illustration: MR. SWINSON ASSAULTED BY THE MOB.

_Vol. ii. p. 396._]

The report of these proceedings soon spread through the neighbouring
country; and while some raised the "loud laugh," and defended the
conduct of the assailants, others came forward to aid in resisting
the tyranny which was attempting to trample on the rights and
liberties of the people. It was well known that the actors on this
occasion were instigated secretly by parties behind the scenes--that
they were the mere agents of "the respectable and intelligent
few," who had resolved on the extermination of this so-called new
religion; and though Christian sympathy wept over their ignorance,
and mercy pleaded for their forgiveness, yet it was felt by Mr.
Holmes and his friends, as a duty they owed to the reputation of
the clergyman who had been insulted, and to the liberties of the
people which had been trampled on, to bring the perpetrators of this
disturbance to punishment. Warrants were immediately granted by a
neighbouring magistrate for the apprehension of all the culprits,
and they were bound over to appear at the next sessions, there to be
tried for disturbing Mr. Swinson and his congregation, while engaged
in public worship, and for threatening the life of the minister, if
he attempted to continue the discharge of his pastoral duties.

No sooner had these thoughtless and misguided young men returned
from the presence of the magistrate, than they began to regret the
part they had acted; and frankly confessed, that they should never
have engaged in the affair, had it not been for Mr. Wingate, an
extensive proprietor in the neighbourhood, and his friends. "They
put us up to it," one of them said, "and promised that no harm
should come to us if we would kick up a _row_."

There is no class of men in society who occupy a more respectable or
a more enviable station than our country gentlemen. But living on
their own patrimonial estates, in the midst of a thinly scattered
population, consisting for the most part of poor and ignorant
peasantry, they frequently display more of the domineering spirit
of feudal times than any other class of men in the kingdom: and
though they have made some progress in intellectual cultivation,
in accordance with the spirit of the age, yet they still lag
far behind the great body of their countrymen in liberality of
sentiment and benevolence of disposition. They are too apt to regard
the peasantry with supercilious contempt, and endeavour to keep
down, by oppression, the rising spirit of freedom. They too often
seem to consider those who have no riches, as beings having no
rights--whose quiet complaint is to be considered as provocation,
and whose mildest remonstrance is to be regarded as insolence. They
have been in past times most active in opposing the introduction
of the gospel of Jesus Christ into the villages over which they
exercise an authority; and many of the popular outrages which have
been committed against the ministers of the gospel, have originated
in their suggestions or direct efforts. But now a change has come
over the land for the better. This may be partly attributed to
that spirit of independent inquiry which is spreading amongst our
peasantry, who seem disposed to withstand all encroachments on their
freedom of choice and action; and while they are not wanting in
civility and proper subjection to their employers, bow not, as their
forefathers did, to the yoke of arbitrary oppression.

When the sessions came on, the friends of the accused made every
possible effort to defeat the ends of justice, but they were
foiled in the attempt. The case was stated in a clear and forcible
manner--the evidence which supported it was full and conclusive--and
though their acquittal would have given many of the spectators of
their trial a triumph, yet an honest jury returned the verdict which
the injured laws of the country demanded, and the rioters were found
guilty. As they made, however, a handsome apology, and entered into
a recognizance to keep the peace, and to come up for judgment when
called on to do so, Mr. Holmes and his friends consented to stay any
further proceedings, and this gave general satisfaction.

After this decision, the spirit of persecution declined, and the
peasantry, finding that they were protected by the laws of the
country, resolutely determined to enjoy the freedom which no man
could take from them. They now pressed in greater numbers to hear
the preacher, who had given such decisive proofs that he knew how
to practise the forbearance which he enforced, and exercise the
mercy which it was his duty and his delight to proclaim. When
preaching one Sabbath evening, shortly after the trial, from 1
Tim. i. 13--"Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and
injurious: but I have obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in
unbelief"--he saw two of the ring-leaders of the late riot sitting
in a back seat in the gallery of the chapel. Without appearing to
notice them, he took occasion, from the subject he was discussing,
to make a strong appeal to their consciences. After delineating the
character of Paul, as a blasphemer and a persecutor, and as one who
had injured the reputation and destroyed the peace of others, he
passed by a natural transition to his present audience, and thus
addressed them:--"Happy would it have been for the world, if the
spirit of persecution had died out of it when Saul of Tarsus was
converted to the faith of Christ; but alas! my brethren, it survived
that memorable event, and has continued in existence to the present
day. In former times it dragged the disciples of the Redeemer to
prison, confiscated their property, and then consigned them to the
flames; and though its power is now restrained by the laws of our
country, yet it still retains all its native rancour and malignity.
It would now react the part by which it formerly disgraced our
national history, and plunge us into all the horrors and sufferings
which our ancestors endured; but thanks to a kind and merciful
Providence, we are guarded from its violence by the majesty of the
British law, and are permitted to assemble together, where and when
we please, without dreading opposition or disturbance from any one.

"Our duty in relation to our persecutors is to pity them, for they
do it ignorantly in unbelief, and to pray that they may obtain
mercy. And have we not encouragement to do this, seeing that God
is sometimes pleased to transform the persecutor into a preacher
of the gospel? Hence the apostle, when writing to the church at
Galatia, says: 'But they had heard only, that he which persecuted
us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.'
What a change! What a miracle of grace! What a proof that Christ
Jesus came to save the chief of sinners! And am I now addressing
any one who has attempted to disturb us in the enjoyment of our
religious privileges, or who has been in the habit of reviling or
threatening us? You see how we are protected, and though we have not
chosen to enforce the full penalties of the law, yet a repetition
of the offence will render such forbearance in future absolutely
impossible. But I flatter myself, that those who have opposed us,
will do so no more; and that even the persecutors themselves may be
induced to implore mercy. Yes, O persecutor, He against whom thou
hast raised the rebellious hand, waits to be gracious--_he_, whose
authority thou hast trampled on, and whose grace thou hast despised,
is now looking down with an eye of compassion, more willing to
pardon and to save, than to punish and destroy. If you continue in
a state of rebellious impenitence, you will treasure up to yourself
wrath against the day of wrath; but if you now repent and pray, and
believe in him, you will be forgiven, and finally admitted into
his presence in heaven, where you will enjoy a state of purity and
happiness for ever. Let me then urge you to return home, and on your
knees pour forth the prayer of the publican, 'God be merciful to me
a sinner;' and should it please God, who 'delighteth in mercy,' to
answer this prayer, you will then feel a stronger attachment than
you ever felt aversion to the gospel of Christ."

It often happens that the cause of the Redeemer is promoted by the
very means employed to crush it; and of the truth of this remark
the above narrative furnishes a striking instance. Mr. Swinson's
congregation at Lynnbridge increased so rapidly, that _it_ became
necessary to erect a large front gallery in the chapel; and many of
the inhabitants of remoter parishes, being induced to come and hear
the man who had been so unjustly treated, solicited him to visit
them and preach during the evenings of the week. "So mightily grew
the word of God, and prevailed" (Acts xix. 20).



VILLAGE CHARACTERS.


A few weeks after the termination of the struggle, so successfully
maintained by the managers of the village chapel, against the
encroachments of bigotry and intolerance, I received a letter
from Mr. Newell informing me that Mr. and Mrs. Holmes had quitted
Thornwood to return to the Elms, but had left Miss Holmes to remain
a little longer with him and Mrs. Newell. He proceeded to say,
that as his friends who had filled his house were now departed, he
should be very happy if I would pay him a visit, and that if I could
arrange to remain for a little time, I might then accompany Louisa
on her return to the Elms, and thus fulfil the promise which I had
formerly made to Mr. Holmes. This invitation came very opportunely,
as I had just been labouring under a slight indisposition, for which
change of air was strongly recommended. I had a great desire, too,
to see again both Mr. Newell and Miss Holmes; and, accordingly,
after arranging matters for an absence of a short period, I took my
seat in the coach to Lynnbridge, where Mr. Newell was waiting to
receive me with his chaise. Till then I had never before been in
that part of the country, and was quite delighted with the beautiful
drive from Lynnbridge to Thornwood. On arriving there I had the
pleasure of meeting again Miss Holmes and Mrs. Newell, neither of
whom I had seen since the marriage of the latter a few years before
in London. I need not here enlarge on the kind reception which
I received from all, or recount the details of the pleasant and
cheerful conversation in which we spent the evening.

The following day, after an early dinner, Miss Holmes, Mrs.
Newell, and myself (Mr. Newell having some business to attend to)
sallied out for a walk. "Louisa shall be our cicerone," said Mrs.
Newell; "I think she knows more of the country hereabouts than
I, who have lived in it for several years." "Perhaps, Mr. ----,"
she continued, addressing me, "you would like to see some of our
VILLAGE CHARACTERS. They are to be found everywhere; but I think
this place has rather more than its share of them. Louisa, I
believe, knows them all already, as she is a most ardent student
of the different phases of humanity." I, of course, expressed my
readiness to accompany the ladies wherever they chose to lead me;
and we, accordingly, bent our footsteps towards a homestead about
a mile off, occupied by Mr. William Harris, one of the finest
specimens of the old English farmer I had seen for a long time. He
was a stout-built man, rather inclined to corpulency, with a fresh
ruddy face and a sharp keen eye; but the best description I can give
of him is that furnished me by Miss Holmes, as we walked towards his
house.

"Mr. Harris," she said, "is, as might be expected, blunt in his
manners, but frank and obliging in his disposition, of an hospitable
and genial nature, and as regular as clock-work in all his domestic
arrangements. He lives in the house in which his grandfather was
born, and which is shaded by a large oak tree, that has outlived
many generations, and is likely to outlive many more. He rises in
the summer about five, breakfasts at half-past six, takes his dinner
exactly as the clock strikes twelve, smokes his pipe in the porch
between six and seven, then takes his supper, and retires at nine,
to sleep away the long and tedious hours of night. He is, upon the
whole, a very worthy man, though rather pedantic in his way. He
received what he calls an _edecation_, when young; his father having
sent him for six months to a boarding-school about twelve miles off;
besides giving the old parish clerk two guineas to teach him the
rules of addition and multiplication. He farms a small property of
his own, on which his modest mansion stands, and rents another farm
about double the size, under Lord ----; and is regarded by most of
his fraternity rather clever in his profession. He is a good judge
of live stock; is celebrated for the excellence of his butter and
cheese; decidedly attached to his Church and his Queen; generally
consulted on all parish questions; and universally admitted to be
one of the best weather-tellers in the neighbourhood, though the
shepherd says he has known him out in his reckonings. He has served
the office of overseer eleven times, which forms one of his chief
tales in all companies; has been churchwarden six times; was, when
a young man, regularly enrolled amongst the yeomanry of the country
at the time of the threatened invasion in the year 1804, and often
expresses his regret that no opportunity ever occurred to enable him
to distinguish himself in the annals of war. He goes to church with
his comely dame every Sunday; repeats the responses in an audible
voice; reclines his head on the top of his staff, while _appearing_
to listen to the sermon; reads one chapter in the Old Testament and
one in the New every Sunday afternoon; and then indulges himself
with an extra glass and pipe with a few friends, either at his own
house, or at the inn on the green. But he is, to quote his own
language, a _mortal enemy_ to the Methodists; and will not suffer
any of his servants, if he knows it, to attend the chapel. He says
that the old religion is the best; and he thinks that no one ought
to be suffered to change it. He often says he hopes to live long
enough to see the Toleration Act repealed, which he declares is a
disgrace to parliament."

He happened to be smoking his pipe, with his arms resting on the
little gate in the front of his house, as we were approaching it;
and in exchange for the courteous salutation we gave him, he invited
us to taste his ale, which, he said, was a prime fresh tap. This
offer we declined with thanks, as we preferred a glass of cold
water, which excited his astonishment.

"You like water better than good ale! well, every one to his liking,
I say; but give me a good tankard of prime home-brewed. You be a
stranger, I think, Sir, in these parts," he continued, addressing
me, "I don't remember of ever seeing you here before."

"I have never been in this part of the country before," I replied,
"and have just been admiring the fine scenery which surrounds your
village on all sides. There is a good proportion of hill and dale;
and the parish church on the brow of the hill, looking down to the
river, is a most interesting object."

"Yes, Sir, it looks very well. There were no trees about it, except
the old yews, till I was appointed churchwarden, fourteen years
ago, last Easter Monday, when I had them planted, and they have
thriv'd very well. I have heard many gentlemen say it is a great
improvement. They say it gives a kind of a finish to our church.
They have often drunk my health for doing it."

"But the inside of the church is not so neat and clean as the
outside is imposing."

"No, Sir, it's sadly neglected now; but when I was warden, it was
the cleanest church in our parts."

"How often have you duty performed in it?"

"Once every Sunday, when I and my dame go as regularly as the doors
are opened; except when it's very wet, and then I go alone. She
has a touch of the rheumatics in bad weather; worse luck: and gets
deafish if she goes."

"As it is so small, I suppose it is crowded on the Sunday?"

"Why, no, not much of that; for the people go to the chapel that's
built yonder on the green. People now-a-days an't satisfied with the
good old religion of the Church; they must have this new religion
that's springing up all over the country."

"Do you know what this new religion is?"

"No, Sir. I'm satisfied with the religion my fathers had before me,
and so I don't trouble my head about it; but I understand it makes
people very miserable. Now, my religion never made me miserable, and
I don't think it ever will. I am for letting well alone."

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

"Aye, to be sure, I do. I shouldn't like to go to t'other place.
They are badish off there, so the parsons tell us; and I suppose
they know all about it, as they studied at the univarsaty."

"But we ought not to expect to get to a place unless we go the right
way."

"That's true, and no mistake."

"Have you ever thought much about the difficulty of getting into
the right way which leads to heaven? I suppose you have read
what Jesus Christ says on this point? 'Enter ye in at the strait
gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to
destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait
is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few
there be that find it' (Matt. vii. 13, 14)."

"Aye, I recollect reading them _varses_ t'other Sunday, and I felt a
bit puzzled to make out their meaning."

"But, Farmer, they have a meaning, and a very important meaning."

"So I guess, or Jesus Christ wouldn't had them put into the Bible.
Can you tell me the meaning, as I should like to know?"

"Why, the meaning is just this: the many get into the broad way,
that is, the wrong way, and they are lost, and perish in hell. Have
you not read the verses which almost immediately follow?--'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 will I profess unto them, I never
knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity' (Matt. vii. 22,
23)."

"Now, Sir, allow me to ask you one question. If we go to church,
and pay every one his own, and are as good as we can be, do you not
think that we shall go to heaven when we die? We can't be better
than that, you know, Sir; and there are not many in these parts so
good as that."

"As you have asked me a question, will you allow me to ask you one?"

"Yes, Sir; twenty, if you please."

"Are you as good as you can be?"

"Why, to be sure, Sir, I might be a bit better; but you know we are
all sinners: the more's the pity."

"Then, how can you expect to go to heaven on your own principle
of reasoning? Now, Farmer, let me tell you, that you are under a
delusion which will prove fatal unless you are undeceived. If you
read the New Testament with attention, you will perceive, that two
things are necessary to fit us for heaven: the first is, we must be
born again; and the second is, we must repent of, and forsake all
our sins, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ."

"Repentance: aye, that's very proper when people do wrong; but I
have never done anything I am ashamed of. Why, Sir, I have been
overseer eleven times; and there's ne'er a pauper in the parish but
will say that I always acted with the greatest charity. I go to
church--read my Bible--and pay everybody his own; and I don't think
God requires anything more than this; and I suppose you will think
this is very fair as times go?"

"But are you born again?"

"I don't know what that means; it puzzles my brains; but then I'm no
scolard; though I know a good bit about farming, like."

"Then if you do not know what it is to be born again, that's a proof
that you are not born again, for if you were, you would understand
what it is."

"Well, I suppose I should. Then according to your talk, though
I go to church, I am not likely after all to go to heaven. If
you are right, I am on the wrong tack; but what must I do to get
right? 'Tis time I looked about me, for I shall be sixty-eight next
Lady-day, and that's a great age; though my father lived till he was
fourscore, and my grandfather was ninety-one when he died; and I
had an uncle who lived to see a hundred and three. You see we are a
longish-lived set--about the oldest livers in these parts."

"I think you can't do a better thing than overcome your prejudices,
and go and hear the preaching at the village chapel, where these
things will be explained to you; and it is very likely that there
you will gain in a few months more information on religious subjects
than you have acquired in all your life."

At the mention of the chapel he shrugged up his shoulders and said,
"Why, if I was to go there I should have half the parish laughing at
me. I shouldn't be able to show my face at market. My old friends
would give me the cold shoulder. No, no, it will never do for an
old warden, who has been in office so often, to leave church and our
old Rector, for a Methody chapel and a Methody parson."

"One word, Farmer, and I will soon finish. Are you such a coward as
to care for what others say, when you are doing a thing for your own
advantage? Will you suffer the laugh of the ungodly to deter you
from getting into the _narrow_ way that leads to heaven; and consent
to be lost with the many, rather than saved with the few?"

"These sartanly are plain questions, and I'll give them a turn over
in my mind. I must confess that your talk has satisfied me--that I
know but little--the more's the pity--about the good things of the
Bible; and I think as how I shall take your advice, and go and hear
the gentleman who preaches in the chapel. If I don't like what he
says, I need not go again, and it is but right to give him a hearing
before one condemns him."

"Very true."

We now wished Mr. Harris good day, and proceeded on our walk. A
short distance onward we passed a neat cottage by the roadside, in
the little garden in front of which we saw a lady walking up and
down at a solemn pace. As Mrs. Newell was acquainted with her she
stopped to ask her how she did. As she did not perceive us before
Mrs. Newell spoke, being wrapped up in her own airy musings, she
seemed startled, as though some spectre had suddenly made its
appearance, but recovering her composure, she politely invited us to
enter her modest habitation.

"I am sorry, Madam," said Mrs. Newell, in her usual kind manner, "to
see you so indisposed."

"Indeed," said Miss Newnham, "I am very ill--very ill indeed. I was
never worse in all my life. I have not had a wink of sleep these two
nights. I sent for the doctor yesterday, but he did not come till
this morning; and he says that I am not ill. But I feel that I am
very ill indeed. Dr. Bland does not understand my case. I shall send
for Dr. Gordon, who is more clever in his profession; so my aunt
tells me, and so my old servant says."

"Have you been ill long, Madam?" I inquired.

"O no, Sir! I was very well this day fortnight. I spent the evening
at Mrs. Paul's with a party, and stayed rather later than usual; and
on coming home, just as I was passing along the churchyard, I saw a
very bright star shoot down from the sky."

"It did not, I suppose, fall on you?"

"O no! it didn't fall on me; but, Sir, I had such a dream! and I
awoke about three o'clock in the morning in such a terror, that I
have not been well since. And every night, but two, since then, the
screech owl has perched itself on the ledge of my window, and kept
up its hideous noises so long, that I have been obliged to have my
servant sleep in the same room with me ever since, and that's a very
unpleasant thing: particularly so."

"And if, Madam, it be not an impertinent question, may I be
permitted to inquire into the nature of your dream?"

"O Sir! I dreamed I went to Weston to purchase a new dress; and the
shopman, by mistake, took down some crape instead of printed muslin;
and just at that time in came Mr. Noades, the undertaker, and said
he wanted some stuff for a shroud, for a lady who had died suddenly.
And I awoke in such a fright! Indeed, I have not been myself since.
My nerves are so shook. My very shadow makes me tremble. I am afraid
I'm going to die."

"Well, Madam, it is certain you will die, and you may die suddenly;
but do you think that this dream will hasten the time of your death?"

"But, Sir, when I awoke I heard the death-watch as plainly as you
now hear me speak."

"And do you suppose, Madam, that the Supreme Being has communicated
to this insect a knowledge of your approaching death, and sent it,
in the stillness of the night, to give you warning?"

"But, Sir, I heard the death-watch several times when my sister was
ill of a decline, and she died about six months afterwards. I said
she would die. I was quite sure she would."

"Very likely; and though you may trace a connection between her
disorder and her death, yet what connection can you trace between
the noise of this little insect and her death?"

"But, Sir, since the screech owl left my window, our dog has done
nothing but howl for the last two nights. O! it is so dismal to lie
awake and hear it. It makes me tremble like an aspen leaf."

"And do you think that the howling of the dog is a prognostic of
your death, any more than the death of either of your servants?"

"I remember, Sir, the dog howled most awfully just before my
grandmother died: and when she heard it she said she should be sure
to die, and she did die sure enough."

"And how old, Madam, was your grandmother when she died?"

"Ninety-two, all but four weeks and three days."

"And she really did hear the dog howl some short time before her
death?"

"Yes, Sir, about five nights before she died; and all the servants
heard it; and they were so frightened; and they all said, nothing
can save her after these howlings."

"Very likely; and as most dogs occasionally howl in the night,
it would be very strange if some person did not die after such
howlings; but can we suppose that the Supreme Being employs shooting
stars, insects, owls, and dogs, to announce to us the approach of
our death?"

"And don't you believe, Sir, in such omens? Everybody does in our
parish."

"I believe that ignorance and superstition have invested these
sights and sounds with an ominous import, and that many allow
themselves to be terrified by them; but what can be a stronger proof
of the absurdity of such a habit, than the fact that the star often
falls, the death-watch often ticks, and the dog often howls, when
the patient recovers, and lives for years to relate the terror and
alarm which these scare-crows of superstition had excited in his
breast."

"I hope, Sir, I may live, and if I do, I shall then have a proof
that there is nothing in it."

"And pray, Madam, have you never known a patient recover from his
illness even after he has been warned of his approaching death by
these omens of terror?"

"O yes, Sir, my dear mother was once very ill, and for seven nights
our dog howled as he did last night; but she lived seven years
afterwards, and when she died no noises were heard."

"Now, dear Madam, excuse me, a stranger, taking the liberty of
talking so to you; after what you have just mentioned, what stronger
proof do you require of the folly of being alarmed by sounds which
the inferior tribes of nature utter, and which you must know, on
reflection, are no sure indications of any future event in the
history of human life? That you will die is certain; and that you
will enter the eternal world is certain; and that you will stand
before the judgment-seat of Christ is certain; and that you are
ignorant of the exact time when these great events will take place
is equally certain; but instead of allowing your mind to be agitated
by these senseless sounds, you ought to be preparing for the final
issue of life."

Here our conversation ended, and we then took our leave, Miss
Newnham thanking me for the interest I had taken in her welfare, and
hoping that I would call again on her before I left Thornwood.

Addison has a good paper on the propensity which weak and
superstitious people indulge, to give an ominous meaning to many
of the casualties of life; and to allow themselves to be more
terrified by the screeching of an owl, the clicking of an insect,
or the howling of a dog, than the real and afflictive dispensations
of Providence. As society improves in knowledge, especially the
knowledge of the Scriptures, this propensity will become weaker and
weaker; and though some traces of its existence may be discovered,
at times, in the most cultivated minds, yet it is not invested
with that magic power which it exercises over the illiterate. Many
efforts have been employed to expose its absurdity, but if we
intermingle with the uninformed inhabitants of a village, we shall
have indubitable evidence that its influence still continues to
operate. The same elegant writer to whom I have just referred,
observes:--"I know but one way of fortifying my soul against these
gloomy presages and terrors of mind, and that is, by securing to
myself the friendship and affection of that Being who disposes of
events, and governs futurity. He sees, at one view, the whole thread
of my existence, not only that part of it which I have already
passed through, but that which runs forward into all the depths
of eternity. When I lay me down to sleep, I recommend myself to
his care; when I awake, I give myself up to his direction. Amidst
all the evils that threaten me, I will look up to him for help,
and question not but he will either avert them, or turn them to my
advantage. Though I know neither the time nor the manner of the
death I am to die, I am not at all solicitous about it; because I am
sure he knows them both, and that he will not fail to comfort and
support me under them."[27]

  [27] In connection with the above subject, the author may be
  permitted to narrate the two following cases which occurred a few
  years since in the town where he then resided:--The chief actors
  in the scenes to be described were persons occupying a respectable
  station in society, and who habitually associated with intelligent
  and pious people. He and his wife accepted an invitation to dine
  with a large party. The dinner was laid out in first-rate style,
  grace was said with becoming solemnity, and we took our seats in due
  form, when our hostess rose suddenly and rushed out of the room,
  pale and affrighted, as though the turkey which she was preparing
  to dismember had suddenly metamorphosed itself into a hobgoblin. We
  then heard her exclaim, when she found herself alone in the hall,
  nearly breathless with terror, "O dear, O dear! there are thirteen!"
  I looked at my wife and she looked at me, in utter amazement,
  wondering what presage of coming evil could lurk under the number
  _thirteen_. At length our good-natured host said to one of his
  daughters, "Eliza, you must retire, and we will send your plate to
  you in the other room. You know your Mamma's objection to sit down
  at the table with such an unlucky number." Eliza quietly withdrew,
  and then her mother silently entered, almost as pale as a corpse,
  but her natural colour returned soon after she commenced her carving
  labours. _Thirteen_ an unlucky number! How odd! I could not make it
  out, and continued to puzzle my head with it during dinner. However,
  we were informed, before the party broke up, that one person was
  sure to die very soon after eating a hearty dinner with _twelve_,
  however hale and vigorous they might all be.

  The other case is as follows:--A friend of the author had been
  married, and he and his wife went to pay the customary wedding
  visit. The sister of the bride was in waiting to receive the
  company; her mother keeping watch, to see that everything was done
  in due order. There was a goodly muster of persons, including uncles
  and aunts, first and second cousins, and friends and acquaintances
  almost without number. At last the uncle of the bride, a fine
  portly man, made his appearance, and was in the act of entering the
  parlour with his hearty congratulations to his niece, when the door
  was suddenly and rather unceremoniously slammed to by his sister,
  as though he had been some grim demon, bent on mischief. "Daniel,
  don't come in; Daniel, you must not come in; Daniel, you shan't come
  in," exclaimed the lady. "What's the matter now?" said Daniel, who
  apparently was as much surprised at not being permitted to see us
  as we were at not being permitted to see him. "What's the matter!"
  re-echoed his sister; "_why, you have got your black coat on!_"
  Daniel was obliged to doff his black coat and put on a blue one,
  made for a much smaller man, and then he appeared amongst us. Moving
  nearly as gracefully as a man would do in a strait waistcoat, his
  appearance was a severe tax on our gravity. The mystery of the black
  coat rejected, and the blue coat honoured by a presentation, still
  remained unsolved to my wife and myself, till we overheard a grave
  matron say, "It was very lucky, as the dear creature wouldn't die
  now." That is, as was more fully explained afterwards, the black
  coat would have betokened the death of the bride, if she had seen
  it. Alas! poor human nature. What a specimen of its absurdity and
  folly! The black coat of the author was invested with no fatal
  presage, as he belonged to the clerical order; otherwise, like Uncle
  Daniel, he must have changed it before he could have tasted a bit of
  the wedding cake.

Shortly after leaving Miss Newnham, we turned aside into a fine
old park; and feeling rather fatigued, seated ourselves beneath a
clump of trees that stood near the foot-path. As we sat watching the
hares and rabbits which came out of a neighbouring coppice, and the
stately deer which fed around us, unawed by our presence, the Squire
passed by, and in a most good-humoured and kindly manner invited us
to take some refreshment at the Hall. The invitation was accepted;
and we soon found ourselves in a large antique parlour, in which the
spirit of hospitality had dwelt from time immemorial.

The Squire, or to call him by his own name, Mr. Bradley, was a fine
looking old gentleman, of about sixty years of age, but with a deep
trace of melancholy imprinted on his countenance. He had one child,
who was sent, when eleven years of age, to a first-rate classical
school, to be prepared for Oxford. When about the age of fourteen,
according to a barbarous custom which still prevails in most of our
great schools, he was chosen by a senior scholar to fight another
boy about his own age. After contending till his strength was nearly
exhausted, he received a blow on his right temple, which sent him
lifeless to the ground. At first the boys thought him only stunned,
and taking him up carefully, they carried him into a shed, when, to
their horror, they found that he was dead! Horror-struck at this
ghastly spectacle, they knew not what to do; but at length the
dismal news reached the ears of the master--medical assistance was
sent for, but it came too late. This fatal catastrophe happened
just before Christmas, when the fond parents were preparing to
receive their child once more under their roof during the holidays.
When the tidings reached them, they were frantic with grief, and
resolved to punish the authors of their calamity; but on cool
reflection they forbore doing so, and sunk down into a state of
melancholy, from which they have never perfectly recovered.

This sad bereavement brought about a singular change in the habits
of the Squire, who now became a very religious man. He had family
prayer morning and evening, attended church regularly, and observed
the fasts with a degree of monkish austerity which is rarely met
with amongst Protestants. As his religion, however, contained no
recognition of a living Saviour, it did not reach his heart, nor
produce that exquisite taste for the enjoyment of spiritual things
which is formed when the inner man is renewed in its spirit and
disposition.

And here the author would remark, before he gives the sequel of this
interview with the Squire, that the Christian scheme of salvation
differs from every other system of religion in one very important
particular--it does not admit any person to the denomination of a
believer, who does not feel its influence on his heart; nor can a
person discern its adaptation to the moral condition of man, till
such influence is felt. Hence it discriminates between the man
who holds the truth in unrighteousness, and the man who receives
it with meekness and in faith; and while it imparts to the latter
all its consolations and its hopes, it pronounces the sentence of
condemnation on the former, although his moral character may be
adorned with the varied beauties of social virtue. To the one it
unveils a scene of contemplation, which displays the purity and
grandeur of the Divine nature--the equity and glory of his wise, yet
mysterious dispensations of providence and of grace; to the other it
remains as an unconnected and unharmonious scheme of religion, which
no skill can simplify, and which no labour can methodically arrange.
To the one it opens a fountain of living waters, of which they who
drink never thirst after a more salubrious draught of happiness; to
the other it is as a stagnant lake, whose waters are bitter, like
those of ancient Marah. To the one it makes known a Saviour, in
the efficacy of his death, in the riches of his grace, and in the
prevalence of his intercession: to the other it exhibits him as the
Man of sorrows, who once fasted in the desert, and preached in the
temple--who once wept on Olivet, and groaned on Calvary--and who
derives all his celebrity from the records of history, rather than
from the manifestation of his love in renewing and sanctifying the
soul. So that while these two persons profess the same faith, bear
the same denominational character, worship in the same church, and
observe the same ceremonial rites and institutions; they cannot hold
any communion with each other in spirit, because their perceptions,
taste, and moral inclinations are as much opposed to each other as
the purity of the Divine nature is opposed to the impurity of the
human.

"It is now," said the Squire, "fifteen years since I lost my son.
It was a grievous affliction--one which has embittered life to me:
and if I could overcome the dread of death, I should long to lie
down in our family vault, to rest in peace with the dead of past
generations."

"To lose a child," I replied, "in the common course of nature, must
be a severe affliction to a parent; but to lose an only son, and in
such a way as you lost yours, must be a trial almost too heavy to be
borne."

"O, Sir, it nearly bereft us of our senses; and we have gone but
little into company since. There's his likeness," pointing to a good
painting hanging over the fireplace, "and it is a very correct one;
and here is his favourite dog, which we have preserved; but you see,
like his master, his life is gone. This is the end of man."

"Yes, Sir, it is appointed unto man once to die, and after death the
judgment."

"And it is this judgment after death which makes death so dreadful.
I have been preparing myself for my latter end ever since the death
of my child; and the more I think of its solemnity and importance,
the more I am alarmed. We know what this life is; but of the next
life we have no knowledge; and we know the beings with whom we now
associate; but who can form a conception of disembodied spirits?"

"The dread of death often operates as a spell on the happiness of
life; and brings down the wealthy and prosperous to a state of
mental wretchedness, equally deplorable with that of the destitute
and forlorn."

"Sir," said the Squire, with great emphasis, fixing his eye on
myself as he spoke, "it brings us lower, because, as we have
stronger temptations to the love of life, we have greater reluctance
to resign it. Here we are distinguished by greater possessions,
occupy a more exalted station, and have a greater variety of
enjoyments at our command; but we are not sure that we shall be even
admitted into the kingdom of heaven when we die; and, for aught we
know, the same fate may await us which befel a certain rich man, of
whom we read in the Bible."

"That fact, Sir," I replied, "is calculated to excite a high degree
of terror in the breast of a rich man, because it teaches us, that
God does not continue the line of distinction between the rich and
the poor beyond this life."

"The distinction, Sir, may be preserved, but it may be against us,
as poor Lazarus was comforted, while the rich man was tormented.
I have a servant, who works for me in my garden, on whom I often
look with envy; and if I could attain that composure in prospect of
death which he possesses, I would gladly exchange my mansion for his
cottage."

"I presume, Sir, he is a religious man?"

"Yes, he is a religious man, and so am I; but he has the art of
deriving consolation from his religion, while I can derive none from
mine."

"But how is that? Is he a more learned or a more virtuous man than
you are?"

"No, Sir; he is virtuous, and he is intelligent for a person in his
rank of life; but he says he does not derive any consolation from
his virtue."

"I presume, Sir, he is a man of prayer?"

"Yes, and so am I, though I use a form, and he prays extempore--so I
have heard."

"I presume he attends a place of worship?"

"Yes; he now goes to the chapel which has lately been built in the
village. This is the only thing in his conduct I disapprove of. I
think we ought to keep to the Church, and not sanction this new
religion, which is overrunning the country."

"But now, suppose this new religion, as you term it, should be the
very religion from which your gardener derives all his consolation
against the fear of death, would it not be an act of cruelty and of
injustice if you were to attempt to deprive him of it?"

"But why can't he derive his consolations from the religion of the
Church of England?"

"Then, Sir," I replied, "why don't you? You say that you have
attended your parish church regularly for the last fifteen years,
and yet you are as much in dread of death as you were when you first
entered within its doors."

"Very true; there's a mystery about it which I can't unravel."

"Shall I explain it, Sir?"

"I wish you would; and as it is a question which perplexes Mrs.
Bradley no less than myself, I will fetch her, if you will excuse me
for a few minutes."

The Squire soon returned, accompanied by his lady, who welcomed us
to the Hall, with the greatest cordiality and politeness.

"Now, Sir," said the Squire, "if you will explain to us how it is
our gardener derives that consolation against the fear of death from
this new religion, which we cannot derive from the good old religion
of our forefathers, you will confer a great favour, and we shall
esteem your visit the most agreeable one we have ever received."

"In the first place," I observed, "you have fallen into a mistake.
The religion of the chapel is not a new religion, but the religion
of the Bible, exhibited in a simple and popular form, and does not
differ from the doctrinal articles of the Established church."

"Indeed, Sir. Why, then, my gardener and I profess the same faith.
But how is it he derives so much consolation from that which gives
me none?"

"Because, to quote the language of the Scripture, he has been
renewed in the spirit of his mind, and has had the eyes of his
understanding enlightened, so that he is enabled to trace the
connection between the facts of Christianity and their application
to his mind; while you, for want of this supernatural illumination,
admit the facts only, without perceiving how they can, or how they
do, produce the intended effect. For example: you admit that you
are a guilty sinner in relation to God, and under a sentence of
condemnation, which is the reason why you dread death; and you admit
that Jesus Christ died for sinners; but you cannot perceive _how_ it
is that his death operates to remove guilt, and to inspire a hope
of eternal blessedness. There is, if I may use such an expression,
a palpable darkness intervening between the fact of human guilt,
and the fact of the Saviour's death for its expiation, which
prevents your seeing how the latter does actually become the means
of removing the former. Hence your faith in the death of Christ
does not give you that consolation of which you sometimes hear your
pious gardener speak; because, for want of an adequate power of
perception, you cannot see how to apply its moral efficacy to your
heart and conscience."

"How to apply the moral efficacy of the death of Christ to my
heart and conscience! Why, I was not aware that anything more was
necessary, on my part, than simply admitting the fact of his death."

"Then what meaning can you affix to the language of the
apostle--'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I
unto the world?' But such is the spiritual darkness that rests
on the human mind, that the moral design of his death cannot be
perceived without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Why, the
prayers and liturgy of your own Church most unequivocally recognize
the necessity of this supernatural illumination."[28]

  [28] See vol. i. p. 313.

"I never felt the necessity of this spiritual illumination to which
you refer, or most likely I should have sought after it."

"I presume you would; but your not feeling the necessity of it forms
no valid objection against the necessity of it. It may be necessary,
and yet you may not perceive it; as the natural man, according
to the testimony of St. Paul--that is, the man unaided by Divine
assistance--'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."

"You have certainly opened a new path of inquiry before me; and
though I cannot at present see the need of any supernatural
assistance to enable me to understand what I read in my Bible, yet,
if the necessity of it be clearly stated in Holy Writ, I shall not
hesitate to admit it.[29] But, to advert to the religion of this
village chapel, am I to understand that the doctrines of the Church
of England are preached in it?"

  [29] The reader is referred to vol. i. p. 249.

"Yes, Sir."

"Then they have not brought a new religion into the village?"

"No, Sir; they have brought no new religion into the village, but
merely present the old religion of the Bible and of Protestantism in
a new form."

"And yet when they talk on religious subjects, they employ a very
different phraseology of speech from that which we have been
accustomed to use."

"Very likely, because they are more familiar with the phraseology of
the Scriptures than you are; and they feel the power of religious
truth on their heart more forcibly than you profess to do. Your
religion, if I judge from your conversation, is the religion
of opinion, theirs of belief--yours of speculation, theirs of
principle--yours of forms and ceremonies, theirs of knowledge and of
feeling--yours of times and seasons, theirs of habitual devotion;
and while you derive no consolation from the routine of duties which
you perform, they have peace with God through Jesus Christ."

"I have heard," said the Squire, "that their religion makes them
happy, and raises them above the fear of dying--the great points I
have been aiming to reach for fifteen years, but I am as far off as
when I first began the pursuit."

"If, Sir, you had been labouring under some physical malady for
the space of fifteen years, without deriving any benefit from the
prescriptions of your regular family physician, I presume you would
call in other advice?"

"I have no doubt of it, Sir; I should suspect his want of judgment."

"Why not, Sir, act on the same principle, on the more important
question relating to your soul--its peace, and its salvation?
Your attendance at the church has been in vain. Why not dismiss
your prejudices, and go to the village chapel? You have ocular
demonstration, that the people who worship there are happy, and
live in the anticipation of future happiness. Why not make the
experiment, which can subject you to no loss, and may lead to a
glorious issue?"

"We are slaves, Sir, to prejudice. Yes, we create our own tyrant,
and then yield to his iron sway! What fools we all are!"

"I should not object," said Mrs. Bradley, "to go to the village
chapel, if I thought I could obtain any spiritual benefit. I am
weary of life. I want something to bring peace to my heart."

"Make the experiment, Madam."

"I feel inclined to do it; but yet I have a strange reluctance."

"I will venture," said the Squire, "and give a proof that I am
sincere in my efforts to obtain the hope of salvation."

We now left the Hall, much pleased with our visit, and bent our
steps towards home. It was a beautiful evening, and as we passed
along we were charmed by the varied notes of my favourite bird, the
thrush, whose harmony was occasionally disturbed by the cawing of
the rooks on their return from their daily pilgrimage. We returned
to the public road just as the sun was setting, and while admiring
the lustre which he threw around him on his departure, I remarked
to Miss Holmes, what a fine emblem it presented of the dying
Christian, whose pathway through life resembles the shining light,
which shineth brighter and brighter, yet reserves its brightest
splendour for its setting, when a halo of glory encircles him as he
disappears, leaving spectators astonished and delighted more by the
closing scene, than by the progressive majesty of his course.

On ascending the slope leading to the entrance of the village, a
respectable looking man stepped out of a cottage by the roadside,
and on recognizing Mrs. Newell and Miss Holmes, with myself, as a
clergyman, invited us to walk in. His large Bible was on the table,
and the family were preparing for evening worship. After a little
desultory conversation, he begged that I would lead their devotions,
a request with which I gladly complied--reading a chapter of the
Bible and offering up a prayer.

"I am happy, ladies," said the cottager's wife, when service was
concluded, "to see you in my house; it is an honour which I have
long coveted, but never expected; and we are much obliged to you,
Sir, for your kindness in praying for us this evening. May the Lord
reward you."

"And I am happy," I replied, "that you have an altar of devotion
erected in your family; and I hope that your morning and evening
sacrifices, like those of the Hebrew temple, will regularly ascend
before the Lord of hosts, and be accepted by him."

I was now agreeably surprised to find myself in the cottage, and in
the company of the gardener, whose religion had been the subject of
discussion at the Hall.

"We have just had," I remarked, "a long and interesting conversation
with the Squire on religious subjects; and we were much pleased
with the seriousness of his manner, and the eagerness with which
he listened to our remarks, but like many others, he has no clear
perception of the nature or design of the gospel of Christ."

"He is, Sir," said the gardener, "a most singular man. Sometimes
he is very devout--reads his Bible with great attention, and will
often come to me in the garden, to talk about religion, and I have
sometimes seen him so powerfully impressed by it, that he has shed
tears when speaking of the restless state of his mind; but at other
times he is equally gay and thoughtless, and disposed to turn
religion and religious people into ridicule. He is very unhappy,
though he is very rich; and has many good qualities, though he is
not a spiritual man."

"I suppose," I said, "you would not exchange your cottage for his
mansion, if you were obliged along with the exchange to part with
your consolations and hopes?"

"O, no, I would not exchange situation and state with my master; for
I am happy, but he is not--I can think of death with composure, but
he dreads it--I can look forward to eternity with delight, but he
shrinks back from its approach, as a child would recoil in terror on
seeing some hideous figure."

This pious gardener was the only son of a venerable elder of the
Scotch church, who rented a small farm in the county of Stirling. He
was a most industrious hard-working man; and his wife was a pattern
for economy and frugality. For more than fifty years they lived
together in the enjoyment of domestic happiness; but just as they
reached the evening of life, they experienced a series of reverses,
and poverty advanced upon them as an armed man, compelling them to
give up their farm, to be cultivated by other hands. Their son took
a little cottage for them near the church in which his venerable
father had worshipped God for many years; and having acquired a
scientific knowledge of horticulture, he obtained, through the
medium of a friend, his present situation at the Squire's; and to
his honour he supported his aged parents till it pleased God to
take them to himself. When he came to England, he was a moral but
not a pious man; nor did he feel the influence of the truth on his
heart till after his marriage. His wife was the daughter of a worthy
man, who gave her a superior education; and to this the God of all
grace had added the ornament of a meek and a devotional spirit. By
her chaste conversation, and the influence of her example, she won
over her husband to the reception of the pure faith of Christ; and
though, like most others, they have had the ebbings and flowings of
prosperity and adversity; yet, to quote their own language, goodness
and mercy have followed them all the days of their life.

Had the gardener's father remained exempt from misfortunes, his
son might have been living in the house in which he was born, and
cultivating the farm his father tilled for fifty years; but then he
had never seen his pious wife, and might still have possessed only
the form of religion. That dispensation which came as the whirlwind
and the storm, to drive him from his home and his country, led him
at length to attain the blessings of contentment and peace. Thus
we often see in the history of life, disastrous events proving the
precursors of personal and domestic happiness, as the dark and
tempestuous morning is not unfrequently followed by a serene and
joyous evening; exciting gratitude and love to the wise Disposer of
all human affairs, in exchange for the perplexity and sorrow which
they may have occasioned.



THE PIOUS COTTAGER.


After staying for about a week under the hospitable roof of Mr.
Newell, I quitted Thornwood, to pay my long promised visit to
the Elms, and was accompanied thither by Miss Holmes. We had the
gratification of finding all well on our arrival, and I spent with
my old friends a few days very pleasantly; after which it was
necessary for me to return home, though much urged by Mr. and Mrs.
Holmes to remain with them for a little time longer. During my stay
at the Elms, I more than once accompanied Louisa to call on Mrs.
Kent, in whom I felt much interested, but who, for some time past,
had been in a very feeble state of health, and was now evidently
hastening to her end. The evening before my departure she rallied a
little, and on the ensuing Sabbath felt herself so strong as to be
able to walk to chapel, at about a quarter of a mile's distance. On
Monday, however, she was again obliged to return to her bed, from
which she never rose. She now gradually sank, and in the course
of ten days peacefully expired. Her history, and some incidents
connected with her death, will be found in the following letter from
Miss Holmes to Mrs. Loader:--

     "THE ELMS, _17th June, 18--_.

     "MY DEAR FRIEND,--I have just sustained a great loss. Poor
     Mrs. Kent died yesterday, and I feel that I have indeed lost a
     friend. You have often asked me to give you some particulars of
     her history, and this I shall now endeavour to do.

     "She was left a widow when about the age of forty, with four
     children, almost entirely dependent upon her for support.
     Her husband, who was a pious man, died of a consumption; the
     symptoms of which made their appearance within a few years after
     their marriage. But as his outward man decayed, his inner man
     was renewed day by day. During his protracted illness, though he
     had no raptures when anticipating his death, and the glory to
     follow, yet he was favoured with great composure; and when the
     hour of his departure came, he died in peace. While he lived, he
     and his wife had regularly attended the little Dissenting chapel
     in the village, and had always been allowed to do so unmolested,
     but shortly after his death the steward of Lord Harwood informed
     his widow, that unless she gave up her religious notions, and
     went to the parish church, she should not be allowed to remain
     any longer in her little cottage. Her reply to this unmanly and
     anti-Christian threat, at once displayed the characteristic
     independence and firmness of her mind:--'As I would not give
     up my religion to please his Lordship, you cannot suppose that
     I will do it to please you, Sir. You may turn me out of the
     cottage, but my Father, who knows that I want a dwelling for
     myself and children, will provide me with another, over which
     you will have no authority.'

     "As soon as this threat was known, a very general murmur was
     expressed through the hamlet. Many, indeed, thought that it
     would not be carried into execution; but a pious gentleman, who
     felt a great respect for the memory of her husband, and who knew
     that she would always live in terror, while under the power of
     this petty tyrant, built a little cottage for her on his own
     estate, which she occupied, free of rent, till her death. Three
     of her children, one after the other, fell victims to their
     father's complaint, and were all buried in the same grave. She
     was a very industrious, frugal, and prudent woman; greatly
     respected by her religious friends, who, much to their honour,
     provided an ample maintenance for her, when she became, through
     infirmities, unable to support herself.

     "Her cottage, which was built on a piece of rising ground,
     within sight of the turnpike road, was the neatest in the
     parish, and bore, in legible characters, the following
     inscription:--'A refuge from persecution.' This memorial of
     his cruel spirit mortified the steward, by exciting public
     attention; and after smarting under it for some time, he offered
     to make any apology to the widow, on condition that it might
     be effaced. She became his advocate with her landlord, and the
     stone was removed; but ere he had made the application, Lady
     Harwood, on riding past in her carriage, having seen it, was
     induced to stop, and ask Mrs. Kent why her cottage bore such
     a singular inscription. The reason was given, and when she
     informed his Lordship, on his return from the Continent, he felt
     so indignant, that he sent for his steward, and, after a severe
     reprimand, dismissed him from his situation.

     "I have spent many pleasant, and I trust profitable hours in
     Mrs. Kent's company; and now she is gone, I find the remembrance
     of our conversations a source of great consolation. Her
     knowledge of the Bible was very accurate and extensive; and
     the remarks which she sometimes made on different passages
     were pertinent and striking. In her the word of Christ dwelt
     richly; it composed her perturbed feelings--induced a spirit of
     resignation to the will of God--opened before her the prospect
     of future bliss, and supplied her with subjects of reflection
     and conversation, which made her society a source of much
     improvement to others. She was well qualified to guide the young
     Christian, amidst the perplexities which are apt to entangle
     his faith in the early stages of his experience, and guard him
     from the fatal evils by which he is often surrounded in his
     passage through life. To her conversation my sister Jane is more
     indebted than to any other means of religious instruction; and
     even Emma would often gladly spend an hour in her society.

     "A few months ago her infirmities began to increase upon
     her; but we were not alarmed by any symptoms of approaching
     dissolution, till about a week before our visit to Lynnbridge.
     When sitting with her one fine spring evening, listening to the
     song of the blackbird and the thrush, I spoke of the bountiful
     provision which our heavenly Father has made for our necessities
     and gratifications, she replied in the beautiful language of the
     poet: 'Yes,

                      '----not content,
      With every food of life to nourish man,
      He makes all nature beauty to his eye,
      And music to his ear.'

     But this is not the only provision he has made for us. He is now
     preparing a place for us, and soon he will come to receive us to
     himself.'

     "On asking her if she had any fears in anticipation of the end
     of her faith, she said--

     "'I have had many, but they are all gone, and though I still
     have my spiritual trials, yet I can anticipate the final issue
     with great composure. 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.'

     "'You long to be gone, I have no doubt?'

     "'I certainly long to see HIM, whom unseen, I have loved for
     nearly fifty years, because then I shall be like Him; but I am
     not impatient. Indeed, I am not yet prepared to go, for the ties
     which bind me to earth are not all broken.'

     "'Then this earth still possesses some attractions?'

     "'Yes; I have enjoyed, and do enjoy a large proportion of its
     comforts; and though I have felt, at times, the storms of
     adversity, yet I can say, 'The lines are fallen unto me in
     pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.' Here I am,
     in my calm retreat--far away from the noise of contention and
     strife--waiting patiently the great change; and if the Lord
     should be pleased to answer my prayers for the salvation of my
     dear son, I should then say, 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant
     depart in peace, according to thy word.'

     "'Then you think your son is still living, notwithstanding the
     report of his dangerous illness in the hospital at the Cape?'

     "'Yes, I believe he is. As Abraham saw Isaac in a figure rising
     from the dead, so the Lord gave me a somewhat similar vision,
     the night after I received my son's letter. I saw him leaving
     the hospital well, though leaning on his staff, and pale and
     wan, as if just recovered from illness. I have now only one
     painful trial.'

     "Presuming that she referred to the spiritual state of her son,
     I remarked, that parents must feel intense agony of mind, in
     prospect of having their children separated from them in the
     eternal world.

     "'I have not that prospect to distress me. I have three already
     in heaven, and I doubt not but the grace of God will ultimately
     reach the heart of my prodigal son. I cannot doubt it. It would
     be a sin to doubt it. I have felt such a spirit of prayer come
     upon me at times, on his behalf, that I have wrestled for his
     conversion, as Jacob wrestled with the angel at Peniel; and
     though I have heard no voice saying to me, 'It shall be unto
     thee even as thou wilt,' yet I have departed from the throne of
     grace in peace, and found my faith strengthened with power from
     on high. My faith is so strong and so uniform in its exercise,
     that it has cast out fear from my heart; and I can rejoice in
     prospect of meeting all my children in my Father's house.'

     "During my absence at Lynnbridge her illness continued to
     increase, and Jane used frequently to call on her, and take
     her some little comforts which her feeble state required. On
     my return I took Mr. ----, who was paying us a short visit,
     to see her, and she seemed to derive great comfort from his
     conversation and sympathy. She now gained a little strength,
     and in a day or two felt herself so much better as to be able
     again to go about, and on Sabbath actually walked to chapel. The
     exertion, however, had been too much for her, and on calling at
     her cottage on the Monday forenoon I was grieved to learn that
     she had found herself so weak as to be obliged to return to bed.
     I left with her a little wine, which I had brought with me,
     and called again to see her in the evening. I perceived that I
     must now forego all hopes of her recovery, as her strength was
     evidently sinking fast. After some conversation regarding her
     bodily ailments, she said to me, 'I have been struggling through
     deep waters since your last visit, and even now the swellings of
     Jordan are rising higher and higher upon me; and though I have
     not lost my anchor, I have been tossed as upon the billows of
     the great deep. I trust, indeed, all will be well at last; but
     I now feel a terror in prospect of death, which I never felt
     before. I am now on the verge of eternity. I shall soon, very
     soon see God--the final sentence will soon be uttered; and if I
     have been deceiving myself and others, what will be my doom!'

     "'But, my dear Mrs. Kent,' I remarked, 'you should look back on
     your past life, and think of the sacrifices which you have made
     for the cause of the Redeemer, and the numerous indications of
     his approbation which you have received.'

     "'I dare not look back,' she replied, with great solemnity,
     'unless it be to increase the intensity of the anguish which
     at times weighs down my soul, for I have been an unprofitable
     servant, and am one of the greatest of sinners that ever
     indulged a hope of entering into heaven. Look back! no, my
     dear. I am obliged to 'lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from
     whence cometh my help.'

     "Two days after this visit I again called, and found her sitting
     up in her bed. On extending her hand, she said with great
     animation, 'The storm is over, and now the sun is shining upon
     my soul, in his full noon-tide strength. The bitterness of death
     is passed; and I have nothing more to suffer, except a few
     convulsive struggles, which nature will feel, when the moment
     of my departure comes.' Then raising her hands and her eyes to
     heaven, she burst forth into a strain of enraptured devotion. I
     have preserved a few of her expressions, which were principally
     quotations from the Bible, or Watt's Hymns; but it is not in
     my power to portray the calm dignity of her countenance, or
     the intense fervour of feeling with which she spoke. 'Blessed
     Saviour! thou art my Redeemer! Thou hast borne my sins, and
     carried my sorrows! Thou hast suffered the just for the unjust,
     to bring me to God! Thou art the chief among ten thousand, and
     altogether lovely! Thou art the author and finisher of my faith!
     To thee do I yield myself, to be redeemed from all evil--to be
     sanctified--to be presented faultless before thy Father's glory
     with exceeding joy! Yes,

                   '----every smile of thine,
       Does fresh endearmonts bring;'

     and fixing her eyes, as though she saw her Lord, she extended
     her arms, and said,

      'Haste, my Beloved, fetch my soul,
        Up to thy bless'd abode,
      Fly, for my spirit longs to see
        My Saviour and my God.'

     "I happened just then to turn my head to the window, when I
     saw a soldier walking up the pathway in front of her cottage.
     Without thinking what I was saying, I exclaimed, 'Here is your
     son, Mrs. Kent, come back to you from the Cape!' Never shall I
     forget the scene which followed.

     "'My son!--impossible!'

     "We heard the latch of the door lifted up, and a deep manly
     voice calling 'Mother!' On that word reaching her ear, his
     mother sprang up in her bed, and exclaimed, 'It is my son!' but
     her feelings were so strongly excited that she had not strength
     to restrain them, and before I could return to her assistance,
     she fell back, and for some moments we thought her gone. I felt
     her pulse, but it had ceased to beat--her eyes were fixed--and
     while engaged with her faithful nurse in employing the usual
     means to restore suspended animation, the door of her chamber
     was opened, and her son entered with a smile on his countenance,
     which was soon exchanged for the strong expressions of filial
     grief. He saw what was the matter, and forbore to speak, but
     stepping gently to her bedside, he kissed her, and let fall a
     tear on her face. 'How long has she been ill?' he inquired; and
     just as these words were uttered, we saw a slight motion of her
     hand, and soon after she began to breathe softly. On returning
     to consciousness, her first impulse was to embrace her long lost
     child. No words were uttered by them, but a frequent interchange
     of the expressions, 'My child!' 'My mother!' I withdrew to the
     window while they remained for many minutes locked in each
     other's embrace. I then handed the dying saint a glass of
     wine, which revived her; and after reclining on the bosom of
     her son for some time, giving vent to her feelings, she became
     sufficiently composed to converse with him.

     "'O mother, I am sorry to find you in this state; but you will
     get well soon, I trust.'

     "'Never while I remain in this world, my dear son. But I have
     every reason to be thankful. God has always dealt graciously
     with me. Even in the midst of the greatest tribulation, He has
     enabled me to sing,

      'Bless'd is the sorrow, kind the storm,
      That drives me nearer home.'

     But this last expression of his kindness, in permitting me
     to see you before I die, is so unexpected, that it is like a
     miracle wrought in answer to prayer.'

     "'O mother,' the soldier replied, weeping as he spoke, 'your
     prayers have been the means of my salvation, and I am thankful
     that your life has been spared till I could come and tell you of
     it.'

     "She sat and listened with great interest to his account of
     his adventures. While in hospital at the Cape he was visited
     by a pious missionary, to whose conversation he ascribed his
     conversion to God. 'Before I saw him,' he continued, 'I had many
     qualms of conscience; and was often terrified at the thought of
     death, but never _felt_ that I needed a Saviour till he spoke
     to me. His appeals were like an arrow shot through my soul,
     and I could get no comfort till I prayed to Jesus Christ.'
     He paused to weep, and we wept with him; when he renewed his
     narration, and after giving us a detailed account of his recent
     preservation during a violent storm on his return to England, we
     knelt down, and he commended the soul of his dying mother into
     the hands of the Lord Jesus, after which I took my leave.

     "Mrs. Kent remained for several days without undergoing any
     material change; but on the eighth day after her son's return,
     he called at the Elms, and said that his mother was not expected
     to live through the day, and wished to see me. I immediately
     went, accompanied by my sister Jane. We found her in a most
     heavenly frame of mind. After a conversation which lasted about
     half an hour, I observed a sudden alteration in her countenance,
     which convinced me that the time of her departure was drawing
     nigh. She now sat for several minutes in perfect silence; a
     death-like stillness pervaded the room, and we all felt an awe
     on our spirits that seemed to betoken some great event. She then
     raised her head, and first expressed her gratitude to her nurse
     for her kind attention; thanked me and Jane for the few favours
     we had been enabled to show her; and then taking the hand of
     her son, she pressed it to her lips, and said, 'Yes, thou art
     a faithful God! and as it hath pleased thee to bring back my
     long lost child, and adopt him into thy family, I will say, 'Now
     lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
     for mine eyes have seen thy salvation;' then smiling, she fell
     back on her pillow, and with one deep sigh her gentle spirit
     passed away and left us.

     "Thus lived, thus suffered, and thus died, one of the Lord's
     '_hidden ones_,' set apart for himself, to show forth his praise
     first here on earth, and now for ever in the celestial world.

     "I am happy to say that I can now refer, with some degree of
     satisfaction, to dear Emma, in whose welfare I know you take
     a deep interest. I speak with caution, yet I think I can say
     there are some appearances, which give us reason to hope, that
     her afflictions are beginning to yield the peaceable fruits of
     righteousness. She is now more frequently alone and with her
     Bible; still very reserved on the question of personal piety,
     but references and allusions accidentally escape her lips, which
     induce me to believe that the Lord is gradually drawing her to
     himself. Dear creature! she has passed through a sad ordeal,
     but I trust she will yet be enabled to say with David, 'It is
     good for me that I have been afflicted.' Pray for her, my dear
     friend, and also for your attached

     LOUISA."



THE CLOSING SCENE OF THE YOUNG CHRISTIAN'S CAREER.


Miss Holmes, as the reader has already been informed, had suffered
much in her health, by the unfortunate marriage of her sister
Emma; but her visit to Lynnbridge had contributed greatly to her
improvement, and her parents now fondly hoped that she was in a fair
way of recovery. Shortly after the death of Mrs. Kent, however, she
experienced a return of her former alarming symptoms, and an eminent
physician was consulted, whose opinion, though rather reservedly
given, was not of a very hopeful nature. Conscious herself of the
extreme delicacy of her constitution, and apprehensive that she had
not long to live, she now prudently declined an advantageous offer
of marriage which she had received. Her suitor was Mr. Alfred Reed,
the only son of an intimate friend of her father's; a young man,
about her own age, decidedly pious, and who was likely to come into
the possession of a large fortune. He had been bred to mercantile
pursuits, but eventually decided on entering the Church. His father
opposed his inclination, till, being fully convinced that he was
actuated by proper motives, he cordially gave his consent. He had
passed through his examinations at Cambridge with great distinction,
and was now spending the vacation at home, preparatory to taking
orders. His person, his manners, and his profession combined to
render him an acceptable suitor to Miss Holmes, who united in her
character the varied excellencies which are necessary to qualify a
female to fill the important station of a clergyman's wife. She was
intelligent, amiable, discreet, and zealous in the cause of religion
and benevolence, without the smallest tincture of ostentatious
display. Her sense of duty, however, would not permit her, in her
present state of health, to contract a union which might speedily be
dissolved, and involve her husband in much perplexity and grief.

By the advice of her medical man, she was induced again to try a
change of air as the best means of arresting the progress of her
disorder. After much deliberation it was decided to go to Dawlish
in Devonshire, both because they had so much enjoyed their former
visits there, and Louisa preferred its retirement to the noise
and gaiety of a more fashionable watering-place. Mr. Reed, who
still continued faithful in his attentions to her, notwithstanding
her refusal of his offer, and still cherished the hope of his
proposals being accepted, on Miss Holmes' restoration to health,
was allowed, at his earnest request, to form one of the party. He
accordingly set out first, to secure a suitable lodging, and it
was no small gratification to the family when they found he had
taken the same house which they had occupied some years before.
As they had travelled by easy stages, and had been favoured with
pleasant weather, Miss Holmes appeared much better on her arrival at
Dawlish than when she left the Elms; and she continued to improve so
rapidly, that all began to anticipate her entire convalescence. Her
spirits, which had at times been deeply depressed, soon rose to the
level of her accustomed cheerfulness; and though the hectic flush
occasionally added fresh beauty to the sweetness of her countenance,
yet, as it did not return so often, nor appear so deeply tinged
by the florid hue as formerly, it did not occasion any alarm. On
returning from a lovely walk, as they passed the little chapel which
benevolence raised for the accommodation of the Christian pilgrim,
who thirsts for the pure water of life, she facetiously remarked,
addressing herself to Mr. Reed, "I presume, Sir, we cannot calculate
on your accompanying us to-morrow to this unadorned house of prayer."

"Why not, Miss Holmes?"

"Of course, Sir, your clerical profession will lead you elsewhere!"

"I am happy to say, that I am not ashamed to go to offer up my
sacrifice of prayer and of praise in any place in which the God of
salvation will condescend to accept it. I prefer the village church
to the village chapel, most certainly; but, as I have no wish to
become a _dissenter_, I shall conform to the religious customs of
the party during our visit."

"A clergyman in a Dissenting chapel! The last wonder! Of course, we
must all be sworn to secrecy, and keep our pledge, or no bishop will
ordain you."

There is no indisposition under which the human frame labours that
assumes such a deceptive appearance as a consumption. In its early
stages it will often work so insidiously on the constitution, that
its subject is unconscious of its presence; and even, when it
has advanced to a very considerable extent, there are generally
those intervals of vigour and vivacity, that occasion sanguine
expectations of a recovery to be entertained even to the last.
And it is during these seasons, when the animal spirits return
with great force--giving a degree of energy and activity which is
regarded as an unequivocal proof of restored health, that exertions
are made by walking and by visiting, which often accelerate the
fatal issue. To confine to the house the invalid, who longs to
breathe the fresh air, or to keep her out of company, when the
pleasures of social intercourse relieve the spirits from languor,
is a task which the kindness of friendship cannot always perform;
and hence she is often permitted to run the risk of shortening her
life by efforts which exhaust her strength; or by exposures to the
keen night air, which give a fresh impetus to the disease. It was
during one of these intervals of renewed strength that Miss Holmes
was induced to pay a visit to a family, who resided about two miles
off; and though her father proposed to take her in a carriage, she
preferred walking. She reached her friends' house without feeling
fatigued; after dinner enjoyed a ramble in the country; and then,
having taken tea, returned to Dawlish. It was a pleasant evening,
but the air was rather cold; and though she bore the exertions of
the day with great cheerfulness, yet before she got home she began
to feel exhausted. On entering the drawing-room, she threw herself
on the sofa, and said, "I fear I have gone beyond my strength."
After resting herself some time, she retired for the night; but
when she awoke in the morning, instead of rising at her usual hour,
she requested to have her breakfast in bed. At noon she made her
appearance amongst the family, in apparently good spirits; but her
mother, who had watched the progress of her disorder with deep
anxiety, felt alarmed on seeing the hectic flush on her cheek,
accompanied by an occasional cough. Towards the evening the height
of her pulse was considerably increased; the palms of her hands
became dry and hot, and she complained of being chilly. These
symptoms excited fresh alarm; yet, as they came on immediately
after the fatigue of a long day's excursion, her friends flattered
themselves that they would go off when she had taken another night's
rest; but in this they were disappointed. On the following morning
they assumed a more threatening aspect; her cough became more
troublesome, the pain in her side returned, and though she appeared
cheerful, yet it was accompanied by an unusual gravity of look and
manner. At length it was judged expedient to call in a medical man,
who prescribed some medicines that afforded her a little temporary
relief. When asked for his opinion, he said, "I do not despair of
her recovery, though she must be very cautious. She must not exert
herself beyond her strength, nor yet expose herself to the night
air." The following letter, written to her friend Miss Martin, whom
the reader will remember accompanying Miss Holmes to call on Mrs.
Kent,[30] exhibits the state of her mind at this critical period:--

     "MY DEAR MARY,--An all-wise Providence has been pleased to
     guide my steps once more to Dawlish, where we expect to spend a
     few months. In revisiting it again, I naturally advert to that
     period of my life when I was living in a state of alienation
     from God--devoted to the pleasures and vanities of the world.
     Happy should I now be to ramble with you through this beautiful
     country, and talk of Him who lived and died for sinners; but,
     as that pleasure is denied me, I will converse with you through
     a more circuitous medium. You are aware that our journey here
     is mainly on my account. On my arrival I grew much better,
     and continued for some weeks to improve in my general health;
     but a short time ago I caught a severe cold, and have never
     been well since. Though my friends still cling to hope, as
     the sinking mariner hangs on the broken plank of the vessel,
     till the returning wave comes to drive him off, I am now very
     apprehensive as to the result. I know that my heavenly Father
     can lengthen out the thread of my life, and restore to full
     vigorous health the constitution which disease is gradually
     wasting away; but I think He is about to remove me. It costs,
     indeed, a hard struggle to view with composure the approach of
     death at my age, and nothing could reconcile me to it but the
     hope of immortality by which I feel animated and sustained. My
     Alfred is with me, and his kind attentions often depress me.
     He is still anticipating the day when he shall lead me to the
     altar; but alas! fond youth, I am marked out as a victim for
     the grave! Yes! and though I still feel I love him, yet I must
     give him up, and all the prospects which open before me on this
     side the tomb, to go and dwell with Him whom unseen I love! But
     'thy will, O my Father, be done!'

     "Though I have received the sentence of death, I do not expect
     that it will be executed speedily. No! I shall not be taken till
     all are prepared to resign me; and till every tie is loosened
     which now fastens my affections to 'things seen and temporal.'
     This is a kind provision which our heavenly Father usually makes
     to afford some alleviation to the sorrow of surviving friends;
     and to enable his children to retire from this vale of life,
     without retaining any lingering desires for a longer continuance
     in it.

     "I have hitherto concealed from the eyes of others the most
     alarming symptoms of my complaint, nor have I yet given them an
     intimation of my own opinion; as I do not feel inclined to be
     at present the bearer of such heavy tidings. They still try to
     amuse me with the visions of futurity, and talk of my marriage
     with Alfred, and all its attendant circumstances, as if length
     of days was appointed for me: and though I feel conscious that
     a few months, unless a miracle of mercy prevent, will change
     the theme of social discourse, yet I cannot bring my mind to
     the severe trial of attempting to banish these fond hopes and
     anticipations from others.

     "I am happy to inform you that my dear sister Emma is become
     decidedly pious. Her severe afflictions have had a salutary
     effect; and now, being purified and softened by their influence,
     she exhibits the features of the Christian character in all
     their attractive loveliness. Her natural volatility and
     satirical humour are now transformed to chastened vivacity and
     the sportive sallies of innocent wit.

     "I need not say how much I should enjoy your company at Dawlish,
     if you could make it convenient to pay us a visit; but as that
     is too great an indulgence for me to expect, you will not
     refuse me the gratification of hearing from you as soon as
     possible. All here join me in kindest love to you, and your
     Papa and Mamma, who, I trust, are both enjoying their usual good
     health.--I am, yours most affectionately,

     LOUISA."

  [30] Vol. ii. p. 297.

To this letter Miss Martin returned the following reply:--

     "LONDON, _15th September, 18--_.

     "MY DEAR LOUISA,--I received yours of the 10th, but it is not
     possible for me to describe the impressions which it produced
     on my mind. I alternately wept tears of sorrow and of joy; and
     though that overpowering excitement, which its first reading
     produced, has somewhat subsided, yet I feel almost incapable of
     replying. And is the wise Disposer of all events about to remove
     you from amongst us? And have you, at such a comparatively early
     period of the spiritual contest, fought the good fight of faith,
     and gained the crown which fadeth not away? If so, I will say,
     'Happy, thrice happy saint!' thou art highly favoured of the
     Lord! Yes, you will soon see the King in his beauty, and mingle
     your notes of praise with the multitude around his throne! You
     will soon partake of the fulness of joy, in which the spirits of
     the just made perfect participate!

     "But how can we give you up? How can we take this cup of sorrow
     without praying that it may pass from us? How can we offer up
     the prayer, 'Thy will, O Father, be done on earth, even as it
     is done in heaven,' without feeling it quiver on our lips as we
     attempt to utter it? I now find that entire resignation to the
     Divine will, when those objects are placed in jeopardy on which
     our affections are strongly fixed, is an attainment which I have
     not yet acquired; and though I doubt not but the grace of Christ
     will be found sufficient for its full display, when the day of
     trial comes, yet, at the present moment, I am bowed down with so
     much heaviness of soul that I cannot give vent to my feelings.
     What a contrast do you exhibit! While I am restless, under the
     agitations of fear, you are calm, in the anticipations of hope!
     While I am praying that you may still be detained amongst us, to
     share our joys and our sorrows, you are fluttering on the wings
     of eager expectation, ready to say, as you soar away from us,
     'Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves.' Happy spirit!

     "Indeed, my dear Louisa, your sweet composure at this awful
     crisis--your bright anticipations, viewed in connection with
     your attachment to your friends around you, have given me such
     an exalted opinion of the efficacy of the Christian faith to
     sustain the human spirit on the great occasions of its history,
     that I am not so much astonished at your tranquil joy, as I am
     at my own timid misgivings; and though I still hope I possess
     the faith which is the evidence of things not seen, yet in me
     it is small, like the grain of mustard seed, while in you it
     resembles the wide-spreading tree, beneath whose branches you
     rest in safety.

     "As you, my dear Louisa, when drawing nearer the closing
     scene, may be subjected to the influence of the fears which
     not unfrequently disturb the peace of the dying Christian, I
     have taken the liberty of sending you an extract from a very
     interesting memoir, which I have just read with great pleasure,
     and which, with a degree of precision we rarely meet with in
     theological works, points out the difference between faith and
     hope.

     "'This difference,' the writer justly observes, 'is not always
     sufficiently attended to; and much presumption on the one hand,
     and despondency on the other, have arisen from confounding them.
     One person considers himself a believer of high attainments,
     because he entertains no doubt of his being in a state of
     salvation; and another doubts whether he be a believer at all,
     because he cannot persuade himself that his sins are forgiven.
     But it is obvious that two distinct and very different acts
     of the mind are here confounded and blended together;--one,
     which assents to the fact of Jesus Christ being the only and
     all-sufficient Saviour of sinners; and which places a reliance
     on the atoning sacrifice, for pardon of sin and acceptance
     with God, which is the province of _faith_; and another, which
     appropriates to itself the blessings of this salvation, and
     confidently expects a future state of felicity, which is the
     province of _hope_. Now, it is clear that these persuasions
     of the mind may exist separately from each other; and that one
     of them may be very strong, whilst the other has scarcely any
     existence at all. St. Paul clearly recognizes this distinction,
     when he offers up a prayer for the Romans, that the God of hope
     would fill them with all joy and peace in believing. It is
     here implied that genuine faith may exist without either joy
     or peace; and by addressing his prayer to 'the God of hope,'
     he remarks that joy and peace are the fruits of hope, and are
     distinct blessings to be superadded to the grace of faith.'

     "I regret that it is not in my power to visit you at Dawlish,
     but I assure you that I have you in my remembrance, when bowing
     before the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and while I
     pray that you may yet be spared to us, I do not forget to pray,
     that if you are to be removed, you may be favoured with a joyful
     entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
     You will present my kind affection to your dear parents, and
     your sisters.--Your affectionate friend,

     MARY."

The alarming symptoms which immediately followed this return of
Miss Holmes' disorder, suddenly disappeared, and she was once more
restored to comparative health, though it was evident to all her
friends that the vigour of her constitution was greatly impaired.
She was again permitted to resume her rambles, and to breathe the
genial air of Dawlish, which once more enlivened her spirits. As she
now felt able to endure the fatigues of exertion, she was induced to
comply with the wishes of her kind friends in the country, to pay
them another visit. She rode there and back, and cautiously avoided
running any risk, either by too much exertion, or by any exposure to
damps or cold.

On reaching home, she changed her dress, and soon after retired
to rest; but on awakening in the morning, felt a hoarseness,
accompanied by a slight fever. She remained within for several days,
but on the following Sabbath, felt so much better that she ventured
to go to chapel, where she commemorated the death of the Redeemer.
This religious service she afterwards spoke of as one of the most
impressive and the happiest of her life. When adverting to it, in a
letter which she wrote to Mrs. Loader, she observed, "I have often
felt a great degree of solemnity and delight when receiving the
sacramental memorials of the Saviour's death; but last Sabbath, at
chapel, I felt a joy which was unspeakable and full of glory. When
the minister repeated the memorable words, 'This do in remembrance
of me,' I could not refrain from saying, in the language of Dr.
Watts,

    'Why was I made to hear his voice,
    And enter while there's room;
    While thousands make a wretched choice,
    And rather starve than come?'

"I think I have more than once alluded, in my free correspondence
with you, to my ceaseless dread of self-deception; and this makes
me hesitate to ascribe to a supernatural operation, the religious
impressions and tendencies of my heart; yet, on this occasion, I
could respond to the following declarations with perfect composure:--

    ''Twas the same love that spread the feast
      That sweetly forced me in;
    Else I had still refused to taste,
      And perished in my sin.'

"Till that morning a gloomy shade always darkened my prospects
of the future; but then the true light shone into me with such
a bright radiance, that I abounded in hope through the power of
the Holy Ghost. I retired from the hallowed service refreshed and
invigorated; and in the evening, when denied the privilege of
returning to the house of prayer, I made a more solemn surrender
of myself to God, than at any former period. What scenes of wonder
opened to my view! The Lord of life and glory expiring on the cross!
The high and lofty One condescending to admit a sinful creature
into his presence! The Saviour making intercession for me! The gay
and the thoughtless may pour contempt on the sublime pleasures of
devotion, and rush for happiness into a world which abounds with
evil; and under the spell of a fatal illusion, may imagine they
have found it. But our joys would be ill exchanged for theirs;
and though it may not be in our power, while encompassed with the
infirmities of our nature, to perpetuate the vivid impressions which
we sometimes receive, yet they serve to demonstrate the superlative
value of the faith which originates them; and may also tend to
inspire within our breast an intense longing for that fulness of
joy in which the spirits of the just made perfect are allowed to
participate in the heavenly world."

A few days after Louisa's visit to the chapel, the symptoms of her
complaint returned with renewed violence. The physician was again
sent for, and on entering the room, she said, with a smile on her
countenance, "I am happy to see you, Sir; but I am now convinced
that my disorder is beyond your power to remove."

"Perhaps not."

"Yes, Sir, it is; God can restore me if he please, but I do not
expect it."

He sat and conversed with her about a quarter of an hour, and then
left her.

"Pray, Sir," said Mrs. Holmes, "what is your opinion?"

"She is very ill, Madam."

"Do you think it is a confirmed consumption?"

"I do. I fear the disease has made great progress."

"Do you think that a longer continuance in the country will prove
beneficial to the dear sufferer?"

"To be candid, Madam, I do not think that it is in the power
of human means to arrest the progress of the disease, though a
judicious course of management may greatly alleviate her sufferings."

"Do you think, Sir, she can be removed without much inconvenience to
herself?"

"She may, in the course of a few days, when her strength rallies;
but I am clearly of opinion, that if you wait much longer, it will
be impossible to remove her."

This information came as a death-blow to the hopes of all the
family. Mrs. Holmes, with Jane and Emma, sobbed aloud. A more
silent though not less poignant grief marked the countenances of her
father and Mr. Reed. "If she must die," said her father, "she had
better be taken home to die." "My Louisa die! My dear Louisa die!"
said Alfred, clasping his hands in an intensity of anguish, "And
must she die? and must she be taken from me?" At length he became
more composed, when informed by Mrs. Holmes that Louisa had just
awaked out of a sweet sleep, much revived, and wished to see him.
The family sat conversing together the whole of the evening, and
arranged the plan for returning to the Elms, whither they determined
to proceed immediately.

For the space of a fortnight after her return home, Miss Holmes
continued to improve so rapidly in appearance that the hope of life
began to beam once more upon all except herself. At this time she
wrote the following letter to Miss Martin, who had now gone with her
parents to Hastings for a short period:--

     "MY DEAR MARY,--A kind Providence has permitted me to see the
     Elms once more, and once more to commune with my absent friend
     from my own room, a privilege which I could not have anticipated
     a few weeks since. After the reception of your kind letter, my
     disorder took a turn, and we again thought that the bitterness
     of death was passed; but in the midst of our joy the symptoms
     reappeared, and I was brought near to the grave. I have again
     revived, but it is only to protract my course for a little
     time longer. I may live through the winter, and I may live to
     see another spring opening with all its beauties, but I do not
     expect it. The symptoms of death are upon me. The silver cord
     is broken, and my affections are dying off from earth. I am
     beginning to feel as a stranger amongst my most endeared friends
     and relatives; and though their sorrows excite my sympathy,
     yet I have no wish to remain here longer. No! I hear a voice
     they do not hear, and see a form of beauty they cannot see. I
     long to depart. I can look through my window on the walks which
     wind round our shrubbery, without wishing to retrace my former
     footsteps. I can muse on the pleasures which I have enjoyed in
     the social circle, without desiring to taste them again. I still
     feel that I am a sinner--an unworthy sinner; my perceptions of
     the evil of sin are more clear and affecting than at any former
     period of my life; and at times I am almost overwhelmed by the
     indescribable manifestations of the Divine purity; but it hath
     pleased God to impart to me corresponding views of the efficacy
     of the precious blood of Christ, so that I have no fears
     ruffling my peace. I am entering the valley, but it is not dark:
     nor do I hear any sounds but those of Mercy's voice. The enemy
     has not yet been suffered to stir up his strength against me,
     nor have I been once tempted to mistrust either the fidelity of
     the Saviour, or his willingness to save me. I thank you for the
     extract which you sent me. It defines the essential difference
     between faith and hope with great accuracy and precision; but
     I have now done with all human compositions. The only book
     I now read is the Bible. This is the fountain from whence I
     now draw the pure water of life; and though I feel thankful
     for the writings of those good men which have contributed to
     my spiritual improvement and consolation, yet, like withered
     flowers, they have lost their beauty and their fragrance.

     "I do not think that I should have preferred any other period
     of my existence for my departure, to the present, even if I had
     been permitted to choose. If I had been taken earlier, I should
     have left some of my relatives in the gall of bitterness; and if
     spared longer, I might have left some hapless children; but now
     I can embrace all as fellow-heirs of the grace of life, who are
     nearly allied to me by the ties of nature, and I can quit the
     world without leaving any chasm which may not soon be closed. My
     friends will weep over my grave, but the hope of a re-union in
     a better world will mitigate the violence of their sorrow; and
     soon the days of their mourning will be ended, and earth will be
     exchanged for heaven.

     "Farewell, my dear friend; but only for a season. We are soon to
     be separated, but we shall meet again. With kind remembrance to
     all.--Your dying friend,

     "LOUISA."

Miss Holmes had now another relapse, which destroyed all hope of her
recovery. Addressing her mother, who was communicating, in a low
voice, to Mr. Reed the opinion of the physician, she said, "You need
not whisper, I have long known that I should not recover; and now
_you_ know it, let us converse together as those who are on the eve
of parting."

"I have long feared it," said Mrs. Holmes, "though I have been
unable to express my fears."

"But why, my dear Mamma, should you fear it? Death has lost its
sting. The grave has lost its gloom. I am merely preceding you, and
preceding you under the most auspicious circumstances."

"Then has my dear Louisa no dread of death?"

"No. I have outlived that dread of dying which once bowed down my
spirits; and can smile on the king of terrors, who now appears
transformed into an angel of deliverance."

"But have you," said Mr. Reed, "no wish to live?"

"I had, Alfred, but now I have not. I once wished to live to share
your sorrows and your joys, and animate you in the discharge of your
sacred duties; but now I wish to depart and be with Christ, which is
far better."

On seeing her mother and sisters weep, she said, "I am not surprised
by your tears, because, if either of you were in my place, I should
weep. I know that nature must give vent to her feelings; but you
cannot expect _me_ to weep. Weep I cannot, unless I shed the tear of
grateful joy. No! My days of weeping are passed away; and soon my
days of suffering will be over."

Though her disease had been for some time making rapid progress
towards the fatal issue, her spirits were yet buoyant, and
occasionally she was as energetic and cheerful as in former days.
One evening, when the family were sitting with her, she talked with
a vivacity and fluency which induced them to hope that she might be
spared to them for some months, if not years longer. While indulging
these expectations, they were aroused from their reverie by the
sudden entrance of Emma, who brought her the following letter, from
her friend Mrs. Loader, which the postman had just delivered:--

     "MY DEAR FRIEND,--The affectionate letter which I have just
     received from dear Emma, brings the mournful intelligence
     of your relapse, and that now all hope of your recovery has
     vanished away. This intelligence, though mournful to others, is
     not, I am thankful to hear, a cause of sorrow to yourself. You
     are now on Pisgah, with the dreary wilderness behind you; and
     the goodly land of promise in view, overshadowed by no darkening
     cloud. My sympathies I reserve for others; to you, I offer my
     congratulations. The contest is over; the victory is won, and
     ere long you will receive the fadeless crown of immortality. In
     a few weeks or days, you, who are now an inhabitant of earth,
     will be a glorified spirit, beholding the face of the Holy One,
     and uniting with the saints in heaven in the grand chorus of
     adoration and praise. What you will then feel, on looking back
     on the scene through which you are now passing; or how you will
     give expression to your thoughts and emotions, is beyond all
     power of conjecture; but it is sufficient to be assured that you
     will be perfectly happy, and released from all earthly cares
     and anxieties. Happy spirit!--happy, because redeemed;--happy,
     because brought in safety to the end of your pilgrimage;--and
     happy, now that the shadow of death is flitting across your
     path--the visible sign of the coming of your Lord, to take you
     to himself. Adieu, my much-loved friend, but not for ever; the
     hope of a re-union sustains the dying and the living. We shall
     weep when _you_ are rejoicing with the spirits of the just amid
     the unfading glories of the celestial world.

     "The Lord be with you. Again I say adieu, my much-loved friend;
     but only for a season. My love and sympathy to all the dear
     members of your family.--Ever yours,

     E. LOADER."

Miss Holmes read this letter, shed a few tears, and then presented
it to Emma, saying, "When the crisis is over, acknowledge for me
receipt of it; and tell Mrs. Loader what pleasure it gave me."

The tide of life was now rapidly ebbing; and on her father entering
her room, a few days after receiving Mrs. Loader's letter, she
stretched forth her hand, and said, "I hope you are prepared to
resign me, for I have not long to be with you."

"I have had," he replied, "a hard struggle to do it; but the Lord
has at length enabled me to say, 'Even so, for so it seemeth good in
thy sight.'"

"I am glad to hear it; and I hope you will all be enabled to feel
the same resignation to the Divine will. I wish you would now pray
with me, that I may be strengthened in my soul to endure the last
struggle." When this hallowed and deeply affecting exercise was
ended, she reclined her head on the pillow, and slept for two hours.
When she awoke, she rose up in her bed, and casting a smile on all
around her, said, "My sleep has refreshed me." After giving a few
directions respecting her funeral, she delivered the keys of her
desk, &c., to her mother, with a request that she would distribute
the few trifling presents she had marked for her friends, and then
added, "Now I have done with earth. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"
As she gave utterance to this prayer, her countenance beamed with
an indescribable glow of rapture, and with a gentle bending of
the neck, she bid all farewell, her lips distinctly articulating,
"Precious Saviour! thou art come," as they were closing in perpetual
silence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sketch which I have exhibited of Miss Holmes' character and
religious experience, has been taken from real life; and though
on some points her experience may differ from that of the pious
reader, yet that circumstance will not diminish the degree of
interest which may be felt on examining it. We see what human nature
is, even with all the advantages of a pious education, before the
great spiritual change takes place; we see the process which is
observed in the production of this change--the evidences by which
it is attested--the various and the numerous conflicts which the
subject of it has to encounter, while passing through this vale
of tears--and the influence which a pure faith in the efficacy of
the atonement has in sustaining the mind in affliction, and in
the prospect of death. And who can turn away from such a scene,
without wishing to be made a partaker of the like precious faith?
and without exclaiming, "Let me die the death of the righteous?"
Compare Miss Holmes' character with that of the devotee of fashion;
compare the uniform tranquillity of her mind, after she had obtained
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, with the restless
uneasiness which agitates the gay; compare her death with the death
of the thoughtless and the trifling, and what will be the result?
What! a firm conviction must be produced, that the religion of
the Scriptures, when it is brought to operate on the human mind,
does more to elevate and refine it, and prepare it for its final
destiny, than all the discoveries of science, all the speculations
of philosophy, or all the boasted triumphs of reason. This is a
fact, which is not merely supported by opinion, but also by the
evidence of experience and testimony; and though it may not excite
that degree of attention which its importance demands, yet the
period may not be far distant when the reader will feel the force
of it. Yes, the hour may not be far distant, when you may be called
away from that circle in which you are now moving, and from those
scenes of pleasure which now captivate and hold you in subjection;
to bid farewell to lover and to friend, and let go your hold of
life. Yes, the hour may not be far distant, when you will feel
yourself entering an eternal world, when the solemnities of the
final judgment will open upon you in all their awful grandeur, and
when conscience, roused from her long repose of guilty quietude,
will speak to condemn. Yes, the hour may not be far distant, when
the raptures of bliss, or the agonies of despair, will be yours,
and yours for ever. And will you remain in a state of indifference,
while such solemn events are at hand? Will you pass on to meet
them, as though they were cunningly devised fables? Can no argument
produce a conviction of your danger, and can no motive induce you to
avoid it? Will you resolutely withstand all the efforts which are
made to save you from going down to death unprepared to meet your
God? and as resolutely devote yourselves to the follies and the
amusements of the world, as though you were to live for ever? God
forbid!

But I hope that the intelligent reader has felt that moral
renovation of heart, without which all the attainments of the
purest morality will prove unavailing; and is looking for pardon
and eternal life through faith in the death and mediation of our
Lord Jesus Christ. If so, though you may have your occasional fears
respecting your personal interest in him; though you may often
dread, lest at some future period, the deep impressions under which
you now labour should be effaced from your mind; and though you may
even start back from the approach of death, as from the visitations
of a destroying angel, yet He who has begun the good work will
carry it on--He who has drawn you into fellowship with himself
will perpetuate it--He who has inclined you to hope in his mercy
will sustain that hope in the final hour, and give you a peaceful
entrance into the joy of your Lord.

Go, then, to the footstool of the Divine throne, and there offer
up the sacrifice of praise to Him who has made you alive from the
dead, and yield yourself unto God, and your end will be everlasting
life. You may be reproached for such an act of decision--you may
be contemned--you may excite the pity of some, and the sarcasm
of others; but you will not repent the course you have taken,
especially when your latter end approaches. Reflecting, then, on
your past career in the world you are just quitting, and directing
your anticipations forward to that on which you are entering, you
will feel an elevation of soul which no remembrances can depress,
and without a sigh of regret, or emotion of fear, will close your
eyes in peace.

And when the conflict is over, and you have gained the prize of
immortality--when you have undergone the anticipated assimilation
to the likeness of God, and are as perfect in purity and knowledge
as in blessedness--beholding the person and the glory of the
dear Redeemer--uniting with the innumerable multitude around
his throne, in their anthems of adoration and praise--you will
then feel, that in being a redeemed sinner, you have experienced
greater manifestation of Divine favour and love, than if you
had been created from the first an angel of the highest order.
And in your then glorified state you will often advert to your
earthly sojourn--to your sins and to your sorrows--retracing the
mysterious path of your Christian course, with the ineffably joyful
consciousness pervading your heart, that you have not again to
suffer, or to sin; that you have not again to pass through "death's
dark vale," or again to dread the possibility of perishing; but to
live for ever in the full enjoyment of unmingled happiness. Then,
with what emotions of gratitude will you adore and bless God for
having made you, when in this world, refrain from following the
example of the gay and thoughtless; who, alas! will then be where
the voice of mercy is never heard, and where the light of hope never
dawns!



THE HAPPY MARRIAGE.


During all this time that has elapsed, what has become of our
friends at Fairmount?

The reader has now probably conjectured from the account of my visit
to Fairmount at Christmas,[31] that a marriage would ere long take
place between Mr. Lewellin and Miss Roscoe. It had been arranged in
a subsequent visit paid by Mr. Lewellin at Easter, that the wedding
should take place in the following June, and preparations were
already made for the joyful occasion, at which I was invited to be
present. On returning to London, however, to adjust some business
matters, Mr. Lewellin found to his dismay, that an affair of great
importance, which even threatened the stability of the mercantile
house with which he was connected, required him immediately to
proceed to Australia. The disappointment and vexation thus
occasioned to the youthful lovers may be conceived, but there was
no alternative, and the wedding was accordingly postponed to the
following spring, by which time it was hoped that the bridegroom
would have returned. Unfortunately, however, the business which
required Mr. Lewellin's attention at the Antipodes, proved of so
tedious and protracted a nature, that instead of reaching home in
the spring, as he expected, nearly two years elapsed before he could
return to his native country. In the interval poor Miss Holmes, Miss
Roscoe's attached friend, died, as I have narrated in the foregoing
chapter, and her loss was deeply felt by Sophia. During Miss Holmes'
last illness, Miss Roscoe was on a tour in Italy with her father
and mother; and though her friend had been suffering from a severe
cold when she quitted England, Sophia had no idea of the fatal issue
to which this would lead, and frequently anticipated, during her
travels, the pleasure with which, on her return, she would describe
to Louisa the beautiful scenery and objects of interest she had
seen while abroad. As Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe and Sophia travelled much
in Italy, seldom staying long in one place, their correspondence
with their friends in England was very irregularly maintained, and,
consequently, no tidings of Miss Holmes' illness reached them;
and it was not till passing through London, on their return from
the Continent, that they learned, to their grief and dismay, that
Louisa had expired about a fortnight previously. Before proceeding
to Watville, they paid a visit to the Elms, and did their utmost to
console the bereaved family. They were also very urgent in pressing
Emma and Jane to pay them a visit, which the feelings of the
latter would not permit them to do at the time, but they expressed
their readiness to do so as soon as their minds were somewhat more
composed.

  [31] Vol. i. p. 544.

Not long after Miss Roscoe's return home, her spirits were most
unexpectedly revived by the arrival of Mr. Lewellin, who having
brought his business to a satisfactory termination, had immediately
thereafter stepped on board ship and reached England, a few days
before the letter which he had sent to announce his return.
The joy of the youthful pair at meeting again, after so long a
separation, is more easily imagined than described. Preparations
were now made for the consummation of their union, at which I was
earnestly invited to be present, but the multiplicity of my pastoral
engagements prevented me from doing so, much to my regret. I,
however, readily promised to pay a visit at Fairmount as soon as the
married couple should have returned from their wedding tour.

At first it had been decided that the young people should settle
in the vicinity of London, and that Mr. Lewellin should continue
his mercantile pursuits as formerly, but this plan was ultimately
abandoned. "I presume," said Mr. Roscoe to Mr. Stevens, when they
met to adjust the final arrangements, "that your nephew will inherit
your property, as my daughter will inherit mine, when it shall
please God to remove us to a better world; and if so, I think they
will possess a fortune quite large enough, without running the
risk of losing any part of it by the speculations of commerce, and
without encumbering themselves with the difficulties and anxieties
necessarily attendant on them."

"This question," replied Mr. Stevens, "has often engrossed my
attention, and I am happy to find that our sentiments on it
coincide."

While Mr. Stevens and Mr. Roscoe were thus debating this grave
subject, and determining what income they would portion off for
the young people, they were disturbed by the sudden entrance of
Mr. Lewellin and the ladies, who were ignorant of the point under
discussion. "You two gentlemen look very grave," said Mrs. Stevens;
"one would almost suppose that you have been discussing some
question in which the destinies of Europe are involved."

"No, Madam," said Mr. Roscoe, "we have not been agitating any such
question, but another, if not of equal importance, yet of equal
interest to you."

"And what may that be, Sir?"

"I see your curiosity is awakened; but cannot you restrain it for a
few hours, till you can coax your husband to gratify it?"

"Why, Sir, a woman very naturally feels anxious to know what, when
known, will deeply interest her; and though you gentlemen sometimes
practise the art of tantalizing, yet you must admit, that we can
easily get at your secrets. When together, you can keep up the game;
but when you separate, you give up the prize. You glory in your
strength, when supported by each other's courage; but alone, you
soon surrender."

"Ah! so it is; we, the lords of the creation, are compelled to pay
tribute."

"Of course, Sir, tribute to whom tribute is due."

"To Cæsar, Madam!"

"And to Cæsar's wife, Sir."

"I see you are restless; and as I have too much compassion to keep
you on the rack, I will announce in due form the question which we
have been agitating. It is this--Shall your nephew and my daughter,
after a certain event takes place, go to reside near London, or
shall they reside near us?"

"A question, I presume, Sir, no less interesting to you than myself."

"Equally so, Madam."

"And how have you decided it, Sir?"

"We have come to no decision; but we should prefer their settling
near us, rather than going so far away."

"I am happy to hear you are of that opinion; it completely coincides
with my own views. I was always averse to George and Sophia being
settled at a distance from us."

The reader will no doubt remember Miss Denham, whose death I
narrated in a previous part of the book.[32] Her mother did not
long survive the melancholy event; and Mr. Denham, being now left
alone, soon sank into a morbid melancholy, which embittered his
last days. He had outlived nearly all the companions of his youth;
followed those to the grave who were to have inherited his property;
and after languishing in a state of mental gloom and depression
for several years, he bowed his head and gave up the ghost. His
property, which consisted principally of land, he ordered to be
sold, and the proceeds to be divided amongst his poor relations,
with the exception of a small estate which he bequeathed to an
intimate friend. Mr. Roscoe became the purchaser of one of his
estates, which was situated in the parish of Broadhurst, not far
from Mr. Ingleby's rectory; and as the gentleman who had rented it
had just resolved on removing to a more distant part of the country,
Mr. Roscoe deemed it a most eligible location for the young people.
It consisted of a good house, very pleasantly situated, with about
eighty acres of arable and pasture land, well wooded and watered.

  [32] Vol. i. p. 421.

When it was known that Mr. Roscoe had made this purchase, Farmer
Pickford called on him with the view of obtaining a lease of it for
his son Harry.

"I hear, Sir, as how you have bought one of the farms belonging to
Mr. Denham; and I have made so bold as to call and say, I can get
you a goodish sort of a tenant if you should want one. One that will
do justice to the land, and no mistake."

"And who is it you have been thinking of?"

"My son Harry. He'll make as good a farmer as his father, and that
is saying a good deal; though, perhaps, I shouldn't blow my own
trumpet. I will stand score for the rent, and the proper tillage of
the farm."

"I thank you, Farmer, for your offer; and I should have much
pleasure in accepting your son as a tenant, but I have purchased the
farm with an intention of offering it to Mr. Lewellin, if he should
feel disposed to become a farmer."

"I beg pardon, Sir; I hope no offence. I wouldn't have said a word,
if I had known that. Howsomever, I shall be glad to have him for a
neighbour; and anything I can do to sarve him, I shall have a power
of pleasure in doing."

"Thank you, Farmer. He will need instruction beyond what I can give
him; and I had resolved to call on you for a little advice."

"That, Sir, I will give at any time, with a power of pleasure."

"It is pretty good land, I believe, Farmer?"

"The land, Sir, has a good heart in itself; but it has been
desperately run out. It will take a power of trouble and expense to
bring it into a good working condition, and no mistake. Mr. Denham
was a bad landlord. He never would make no improvements, nor help
his tenant to make any. And I always find a bad landlord makes a bad
tenant."

"I am very glad, Farmer, that you have called, and have referred to
your son Harry; and I will now tell you what has been running in my
mind. I know the farm has been mismanaged, and that it will require,
as you say, much trouble and expense to bring it into a good working
condition; now, could you not spare your son Harry for a year or
two, to act as bailiff to Mr. Lewellin; and thus he will be doing
something for himself, which you know won't prevent him from taking
a farm, when you have an opportunity of doing so?"

"It shall be, Sir, as you say."

"Well, then, you and your son had better call in the course of a few
days, and we will settle the terms of agreement."

"With a power of satisfaction. This will mainly please my mistress,
and Harry too, and no mistake."

Farmer Pickford then took his leave, and Mr. Roscoe proceeded to
Fairmount to acquaint the family with the projects he had in view,
in which they all gladly acquiesced. "Indeed, George," said Mrs.
Stevens, addressing herself to Mr. Lewellin, "I think you will
sustain no loss by exchanging the smoke of London for the salubrious
air of Rockhill, and may part with your prospects of civic honours
without regret, to be enrolled on the list of country gentlemen.
Though you may not at first be so expert in farming as in mercantile
transactions, yet in process of time your rural occupations will be
no less interesting, if not quite so profitable."

"The exchange, Aunt, will be made without regret, especially when
made in accordance with the wishes of my friends."

"We all wish it," said Mrs. Roscoe, who had accompanied her husband
to Fairmount; "and it quite reconciles me to the idea of parting
with my dear Sophia."

In the course of a few months Mr. Lewellin disposed of his business
in London; the house at Rockhill underwent a thorough repair, and
was neatly furnished, Harry Pickford was duly installed into his
office, the farm stocked with the usual variety of live cattle,
and the day for the celebration of the nuptial ceremony fixed. At
length the wedding morning dawned, when the sun shone without a
cloud, a circumstance which Sophia's good old nurse hailed as a
happy omen of her future happiness. Every one was astir at an early
hour. The friends invited to the wedding arrived, and the bride,
with her father and mother and the rest of her party, drove off to
the rectory, where they found Mr. Lewellin and Mr. and Mrs. Stevens
and their friends waiting to receive them. "I am happy," said the
venerable Rector, "that I have lived to see this day; and more happy
that Divine Providence has conferred on me the office of uniting you
in the bands of matrimony."

He then knelt down and prayed with them, and as he prayed warm
tears were shed, but they were not tears of sorrow. Prayer being
ended, they at once proceeded to the church. The good old Rector,
dressed in the habiliments of his office, walked first, followed by
the bride leaning on her father's arm and the rest of the marriage
party. On entering the church they passed direct to the altar, where
the ceremony was performed by Mr. Ingleby with great solemnity, in
presence of a larger concourse of people than had been remembered in
the village on such an occasion for many years. As soon as it was
finished, the married pair proceeded to the vestry to attach their
signatures to the register of their marriage, when Mr. Ingleby thus
addressed them:--"I hope you will enjoy the excursion you are about
to take; that a kind Providence will watch over you, to preserve
you from all evil; and that you will return to us in health and
peace. Accept this small packet as a token of the interest I feel
in your happiness, and possibly you may retain it as a relic of
friendship long after I have left you for a better world." He then
placed it in the hands of Mrs. Lewellin, saying, "You may open and
examine it at your leisure." On re-entering the church, they were
both unexpectedly greeted by the village choir, who sung in sweetest
melody the 128th Psalm, from Sternhold and Hopkin's version--

    "Blessed art thou that fearest God,
       And walkest in his way;
     For of thy labour thou shalt eat,
       Happy art thou, I say.

    "Like the fruitful vines on thy house side,
       So doth thy wife spring out;
     Thy children stand like olive plants,
       Thy table round about.

    "Thus art thou blest that fearest God,
       And he shall let thee see
     The promised Jerusalem,
       And her felicity.

    "Thou shalt thy children's children see,
       To thy great joy's increase;
     And likewise grace on Israel,
       Prosperity and peace."

[Illustration: M. S. MORGAN     T. BOLTON

THE BRIDAL PARTY WELCOMED BY THE VILLAGERS.

Vol. ii. page 456.]

The bridal party on coming out of the church were received with
acclamations by the assembled rustics, who, all attired in their
holiday clothes, thronged the churchyard, and pressed forward to
wish the new married couple a long and a happy life. Nothing could
more unequivocally testify to the universal popularity with which
Mr. and Mrs. Lewellin were regarded among the villagers. The bells
in the old tower rung forth their merriest peals, while the village
children, with their little baskets, strewed the path with flowers.
On reaching the churchyard gate, the wedding party stepped into the
carriages which were waiting for them, and drove off to Mr. Roscoe's
mansion. There the young couple proceeded to dress for their
journey; and having partaken of some refreshment, left for the usual
tour. The wedding party were entertained at dinner, by Mr. and Mrs.
Roscoe, in celebration of the joyous occasion: while the company was
cheerful and lively, there was no appearance of that levity which
too often attends the celebration of the nuptial vow, even amongst
the decidedly pious. "There are some of the customs of the world,"
said the venerable Rector, "which a Christian may follow without in
the least compromising his character; I shall therefore offer no
apology for giving the following toast--'MR. AND MRS. LEWELLIN, AND
MAY THEY LIVE LONG ON EARTH, AND FINISH THEIR COURSE WITH JOY.'"
This toast was duly honoured by the whole party, who soon afterwards
retired to the drawing-room, where the remainder of the day was
spent in innocent festivity and social intercourse. A sumptuous
rustic feast was likewise spread on the lawn for the villagers,
who were thus furnished with the means of participating with their
superiors in the general rejoicings of the day.

We now return to the wedded couple. "I wonder," said Mrs. Lewellin,
as they rode along in the post-chaise, "what this packet contains:
I must open it, and have my curiosity gratified. Ah!" said she, on
discovering its contents, "it is just like Mr. Ingleby, he is always
so kind and considerate. Here is his pastoral advice to us, who have
just returned from the altar." She then proceeded to read to her
husband as follows:--

"I am happy, my dear young friends, that, in the union which has
taken place this day, there has been no sacrifice of Christian
principle--no violation of filial duty, and that it has been
consummated under the most auspicious circumstances. You are both,
my young friends, fellow-heirs of the grace of life; so that you
have each obeyed the Divine injunction by marrying in the Lord.
Here are your parents and your guardians offering you their
congratulations, while Providence is opening before you a scene of
prosperity, which, I trust, you will ever continue to enjoy. But
you will not find this world a paradise; nor will you be allowed
to pass through it without meeting with trials. It is not my wish,
certainly, on this joyful occasion, to darken your prospects with
the shades of threatening evil, but permit me, an old man on the
brink of the grave, to address a few words to you, which may be of
service after I have gone to rest with my fathers.

"Ever remember that you are both imperfect Christians, which will
keep you from forming extravagant expectations, and guard you
against the depressing influence of those momentary disappointments
which you may feel. It is generally admitted, by the most competent
judges, that temper is the hinge on which the happiness of domestic
life turns; and if you can contrive to keep this always in a
good condition, you will never be disturbed by the gratings of
discontent, or the harsher sounds of anger or of discord. You are, I
believe, both amiable, and have, during a long courtship, preserved
the equilibrium of your temper--

    'Ne'er roughen'd by those cataracts and breaks,
    Which humour, interposed, too often makes;'

yet you have now entered on a course in which you will find the
correctness of the poet's remark exemplified--

    The kindest and the happiest pair,
    Will find occasion to forbear;
    And something, every day they live,
    To pity, and perhaps forgive.'

"I have known some who have been very fond of each other before
marriage, and for some time after it, but their affection has
gradually dwindled into indifference, even while they have been
unconscious of any change. This is an evil against which I wish you
to be on your guard. You may now suppose that such an event cannot
occur; but what _has_ befallen others _may_ befal you. Pure love
is a delicate plant, which suffers by neglect; and though you may
imagine that by virtue of its inherent strength, it will perpetually
yield the fragrance and the fruit of conjugal felicity, yet it will
not do so without the most assiduous care. Endeavour, then, ever to
exercise towards each other an amiable and forbearing temper, which
will make you appear no less lovely in each other's estimation when
the gray hairs of age come upon you, than when in the full bloom of
youthful vigour.

    'The love that cheers life's latest stage,
    Proof against sickness and old age,
    Preserved by virtue from declension,
    Becomes not weary of attention:
    But lives, when that exterior grace
    Which first inspired the flame, decays.
    'Tis gentle, delicate, and kind,
    To faults compassionate and blind;
    And will with sympathy endure
    Those evils it would gladly cure.'

"But if pure affection may be regarded as the foundation on which
domestic happiness rests, it is the province of good sense to raise
the superstructure--to decorate and embellish it--to secure its
internal harmony, and to cast up those mounds and bulwarks which
will protect it from external annoyance and danger. I do not know
that I can define this expression better than by calling it, that
sense of propriety which is suited to the situation in which the
member of a family is placed. Good sense will teach you to keep your
proper station in your family; when to see and when not to see the
faults and the excellencies of others; when and how to administer
reproof, or to give commendation; and how to uphold your authority
without the appearance of severity. It will also induce you to
pay great attention to the little things of domestic life, which
exercise so material an influence in promoting its happiness.

"As _your_ manners will have a material influence over all the
subordinate members of your household, the exercise of your good
sense will teach you the importance of keeping your proper station,
lest you should, by an act of encroachment, give excitement to any
evil tempers or dispositions, which the occasion may appear to
justify. I am aware of the extreme difficulty of marking out the
exact boundary within which you ought to keep in the exercise of
your authority, or in your habit of personal inspection; but as an
improper interference with the opinions or the prescribed duties of
others very rarely fails to give offence, even when no offence is
intended, good sense will keep you on your guard against rousing
unnecessarily irritable feelings. I do not wish you to suffer
your servants to govern you, nor do I wish you to stand in awe of
them, as I am convinced, from long observation, that the sceptre
of authority should be held by the heads of a family; but as your
comfort will depend very materially on those by whom you are served,
I would advise you to study their temper and their disposition,
and so to shape your commands as to secure obedience without a
murmur, and bring about reform without opposition. Remember that
your servants are not slaves, to be governed by authority without
reason--that they are not stoics, to be treated as though they had
no feeling; but are your equals in relation to God, though your
inferiors in relation to civil society--who have as strong a claim
on your generosity, as you have on their fidelity, and who will in
general reward your kindness and sympathy by their affection and
grateful obedience.

"If there be one sight more lovely than another in the present
world, that sight is a happy family, whose different members live
together in love and in peace, bearing each other's burdens,
anticipating each other's wants, and endeavouring, by the thousand
nameless expressions of kindness which they may show to each other,
to secure and augment each other's felicity.

"As you are both disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will, I
have no doubt, erect an altar of devotion in your habitation; but
you must guard against the supposition, that all the duties of
family religion are discharged when you have presented the morning
and evening sacrifice. You may have servants to instruct who are
ignorant of the nature and design of the gospel of peace, or whose
positive aversion to every form of religion renders remonstrance or
persuasion necessary. Though you may imagine that the instruction
of the pulpit will prove the means of removing their prejudices,
and imparting to them clear perceptions of the truth as it is in
Jesus, yet I would advise you not to trust entirely to it. A little
private conversation with them, when a favourable opportunity
occurs, or a few familiar remarks made before or after reading a
portion of the Scriptures, when you are collected together for
the purpose of family prayer, may have a powerful effect on their
minds, and lead them to work out their own salvation with fear and
trembling. And if you should be instrumental in bringing any of them
to repentance, and to the knowledge of the truth, you will have an
ample compensation for your anxiety and labour, in the more ardent
attachment which they will feel for you, and the greater fidelity
with which they will serve you.

"I have more than once heard it remarked, that social intimacy very
often proves injurious to that intimate Christian fellowship, on
which the growth, if not the vitality of personal religion very
materially depends. Hence, husbands and wives, parents and children,
frequently converse more freely on the experimental influence of
religion with distant associates or comparative strangers than with
each other. But this ought not to be. They who are animated by the
like precious faith, and who have to encounter the same spiritual
difficulties, ought not to suffer the closeness of their union to
operate as a reason why they should hold no spiritual communion with
each other. Let me then entreat you, now you are just on the eve of
forming your domestic habits, to avoid this evil, into which too
many fall; and by the most unreserved mental communications, become
helpers of each other's faith and hope.

    'If pains afflict, or wrongs oppress,
    If cares distract, or fears dismay,
    If guilt deject, or sin distress,'

do not lock up your grief as a profound secret, which a false
delicacy may wish you to conceal from one another; but rather
disclose it without reserve, and you will meet in your reciprocal
sympathy a relief from your burden of sorrow. And that you may
cultivate this intimate religious fellowship, allow me to suggest to
you the adoption of a habit, which I think eminently conducive to
your spiritual prosperity. Always retire, during some part of the
day or the evening, to pray _with each other_, and for each other;
and you will find that the line of the poet records a fact, which
your own experience will soon attest to be true, that prayer

  'Brings ev'ry blessing from above.'

It enriches the mind with the treasures of spiritual wisdom, while
it imparts a sweetness to the disposition, and an amiability to the
temper, which cares and anxieties will not impair.

"And though, my young friends, I cannot cheer you with the hope of
being able to pass through life without coming into contact with
its temptations, its disappointments, and its bereavements, yet He
in whom you trust, and to whom you have both devoted yourselves in
the spring-time of your life, will never leave you nor forsake you,
but will be a very present help in every time of trouble. If you
are spared till the time of old age, I trust you will be 'like a
tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in
his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth
shall prosper.' And if you should be removed in early life, you will
be transplanted to that celestial paradise, where you will flourish
in undecaying strength and glory for ever. It is but a little while
that I shall live on earth as a spectator of your bliss; but if
spirits are allowed in their disembodied state to visit, though
unseen, the abodes of mortals, I shall often be with you, 'joying
and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in
Christ.'"



AN OLD FRIENDSHIP REVIVED.


After a delightful tour through the west of England, and part of
South Wales, Mr. and Mrs. Lewellin arrived at Malvern, where they
intended to remain for some time previous to returning home. On the
Saturday after their arrival, in ascending the hill behind the town,
they passed two ladies, when Mrs. Lewellin said, "I think I know the
tallest; she appears to be an invalid, and, to judge from her fixed
look, I should infer that she had a faint recognition of myself."

They turned back to pass them again, if possible, but they lost
sight of them in the little crowd of fashionables enjoying their
morning promenade. As they were sauntering along on their return
to their hotel, they passed what appeared to be a small place of
worship, and on making inquiries, they found it was a Dissenting
chapel.

"We ought," Mr. Lewellin remarked, "to be devoutly thankful to
Divine Providence for raising up so many of these unobtrusive little
sanctuaries--they are the retreats of the gospel, when it is driven
out from the Established Church, as is too often the case."

"To me," replied his wife, "any place is a Bethel, if its walls echo
to the name of Jesus."

The next day was the Sabbath. They were seated near the door of the
chapel, when they saw the two ladies enter whom they had observed on
the preceding day; but as they passed on to occupy a pew near to the
pulpit, they could not get a sight of the face of either of them.
The service was conducted as usual with extreme simplicity--singing,
without the aid of any instrumental music, and extemporary prayer,
free, however, from monotony or tautology. The sermon was short
and impressive, setting forth the grand truths of revelation in
a simple, earnest manner, and enforcing them in tones of mild,
persuasive, yet commanding eloquence. The text would be considered
by many a very commonplace one, yet it is one which embodies the
whole theory of Divine truth--"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" (1 Tim. i. 15). When the two stranger
ladies were walking up the passage, after the close of the service,
Mrs. Lewellin contrived to be standing with her pew door partly
open, but drew it back as they were in the act of passing. The eye
of the invalid lady caught hers; she paused, and exclaimed with
emotion--"And is it you, my dear Miss Roscoe?"

"Not Miss Roscoe _now_," replied Mrs. Lewellin, waving her hand
towards her husband; "I have exchanged it for Lewellin. And is it
you, my dear Miss Rawlins?"

"Yes, still Miss Rawlins, your old friend. How marvellous that we,
who were once two such giddy girls, should meet after so great a
lapse of time in a Dissenting chapel!"

"The God of grace often works wonders."

"Always when he saves sinners."

"And does my dear Miss Rawlins feel herself to be a sinner?"

"Yes, and one of the chief. Some others may be more vile, but no one
can be more worthless."

"Is this an illusion, or a reality? Am I in some fairy land?"

"I do not wonder at your exclamation. It is more like romance than
reality."

They walked away from the chapel together, and when parting, Mrs.
Lewellin said, "If you are at the chapel in the evening we will sit
in the same pew."

"O yes, my dear; we greatly prefer the chapel to the church. _There_
we have the pomp of religion; _here_ its beautiful simplicity. At
_church_ we hear the Church itself and its ceremonial rites held up
to us from day to day; _here_ the Saviour himself is placed before
us as the Alpha and Omega of the service. We are more partial to the
substance of the truth, than to shadowy forms."

In the evening a minister officiated, who was on a visit to Malvern
for the improvement of his health. He was a fine looking man, though
much emaciated, and preached as one whose eye was turned away from
the vanities of time, contemplating steadfastly the glories of
eternity. His text was strikingly appropriate to his own condition
and to ours:--"The fashion of this world passeth away" (1 Cor. vii.
31).

"The context to this passage," said the minister, "tells us, my
brethren, what experience confirms--that our abode on earth is
short. St. Paul, therefore, exhorts us, and we will do well to
attend to his exhortations, to guard against too fond an attachment
to any relation or possession in life. You who weep, and you who
rejoice, should moderate the intensity of your emotions; as you
will soon be far removed from the influence of the causes which
produce those feelings, and the possessions which you now hold
on the most secure tenure will soon be claimed by others. Set
not, therefore, your heart on this world, which you must so soon
leave. Its appearance is attractive, like the shifting scenes of
a theatre, or a gaudy pageant in a public procession; but it will
soon vanish from your sight, to amuse and beguile others in like
manner. There is another world--more splendid, more glorious, and
more durable--towards that you should turn your attention, and seek
with the most intense ardour of soul to be prepared to enter it.
Otherwise, when you depart from this world--and you may very soon
depart--you will go into outer darkness, and be lost for ever."

"I hope, my dear Mrs. Lewellin," said Miss Rawlins, on the following
morning, when they were promenading by themselves in a retired walk,
"you will forgive me for not replying to the last letter I received
from you. Indeed, I have often reproached myself for not doing it.
It has been the occasion of bitter grief, and some tears, especially
of late."

"I can very easily forgive you, dear Miss Rawlins; but will you
permit me to ask you why you did not reply?"

"It was, at that period of my life, absolutely unintelligible. I
concluded you were become a mystic; and I foolishly imagined you
were contemplating taking the veil, and that I should soon hear you
had entered a convent. You will not be surprised at this when you
advert to the foolish letter I wrote to you about religion."[33]

  [33] Vol. i. p. 451.

"If agreeable to you," said Mrs. Lewellin, "I should like to hear by
what means you were brought to see and to feel your real character
and condition in relation to God and the eternal world."

"My history is a very singular one--abounding with incidents that
illustrate the workings of the special providence of God. You know,
my dear, in what a gay circle I moved. The concert, the drama, the
ball-room, card-parties, and novels absorbed my whole soul. I lived
in a perpetual whirl of excitement and gaiety. But I was not happy,
and often felt disgusted with my own frivolous pursuits. At length,
I had a severe and dangerous illness, brought on by imprudently
exposing myself to the cold damp air, in returning from a ball. For
some weeks my life was despaired of, and these were weeks of terror.
I was brought to the verge of the dark world, and felt appalled at
the thought of entering it. I was rebellious, too, and murmured
against God for depriving me of life at such an early period."

"It was by a cold, caught at a ball, that your old friend, Miss
Denham, lost her life."[34]

  [34] Vol. i. p. 410.

"Yes; I recollect you alluded to her death in a letter I received
from you. Were you intimate with her?"

"I was with her when she died."

"Indeed! I know she was a gay devotee to the world; and, therefore,
it may be painful to hear how she died. What myriads are offered as
victims to the Moloch of fashion!"

"No, my dear, not painful. Her head was reclining on the bosom of a
pious friend, who was present with me at the interview; and her last
words were--'I am dying, but not without hope of attaining eternal
life, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.'"

"How thankful I am to hear that. It is like the rescue of a
friend from shipwreck. But to resume my story. I was gradually
restored to health, and re-entered the gay world, amidst the warm
congratulations of my friends. At the close of the season we came to
Malvern to spend a few months. Here the mystic roll of Providence
began to unfold itself. One day, when rambling by myself over
the common, I saw a neat little cottage, which I entered. It was
occupied by an old woman, who sat reading her Bible. I apologized
for my act of intrusion; when she requested me to take a seat.

"'I hope,' she added, looking at me benignantly as she spoke, 'you
love your Bible. It tells us about Jesus Christ; about his love
for poor sinners; and about his dying for them, to save them from
perishing; and it tells us that if we come to him He will never
forsake us. There is no book like God's Book.'

"I felt confused, and soon left her; but her words followed me.
They were perpetually sounding in my ears; and yet I could not draw
out of them any intelligible meaning. A few days after this I met an
old school-fellow, looking very ill; and having promised to call on
her, I did so the following week. I found her confined to her bed,
and evidently with but a short time to live. She said to me, when
taking leave of her, 'You see, my dear Miss Rawlins, that I am now
going into another world: and I go in peace, because I look by faith
to Jesus Christ, who died to save sinners. He has assured me, in the
Bible, that if I come to him, and trust in him, He will save me. You
have been near death, but your life is spared; let me entreat you
to leave the gay and thoughtless crowd, and come by faith to Jesus
Christ to save you, and to make you happy.'

"These last words made a deep impression on my heart, and gave
rise to some painful reflections. Must I then, I said to myself,
withdraw from the gay world to be happy? Can Jesus Christ make me
happy? How is this possible, when he is dead, and gone to heaven?
These references to Jesus Christ reminded me of your letter, which,
as it happened still to be in my writing desk, I again perused. I
was struck with the harmony of sentiment and testimony between your
letter, the observations of the old woman, and the appeal of my
dying friend; and I felt its influence, even though it appeared to
me, in a great measure, unintelligible."

"It is said of Samson," remarked Mrs. Lewellin, "that the Spirit of
the Lord moved him at times; that is, he was occasionally acted on
by an unusual impulse. And something analogous to this may be traced
in our moral history; the recurrence of impressions and emotions, of
a singular character, proceeding from some unknown cause. The Lord
the Spirit is at work in the heart, but his operations are veiled in
darkness; happily, the time for explanation comes at last."

"It has been so, my dear Mrs. Lewellin, in my experience. Singular
events have been employed to produce those singular emotions; but
at the time, I could trace them to no perceptible cause, nor did I
ever suppose they would lead to any important issue. But the mystery
is now graciously explained. Soon after our return home, another
incident occurred, which exercised a material influence on my mind.
We went to dine with an old friend of my father's, who lived about
ten miles from town, and intended to return in the evening, but such
a violent storm came on, that we were glad to accept our friend's
invitation to remain for the night. At nine o'clock the parlour bell
was rung, and in a few minutes the servants entered, and our own
coachman with them, when a large Bible was placed near a clergyman,
one of the party. He read the second chapter of St. Paul's Epistle
to the Ephesians, and offered up a very solemn and impressive
prayer. This was quite novel; I had never before been present at
such a service. I was again brought into contact with the great
facts of revelation; and when on my knees before God in prayer, I
became still more restless in my mind. I felt a strong inclination
to go again to scenes of gaiety, to dispel the strange thoughts, and
still stranger forebodings, which haunted me; and yet I recoiled
from doing so, under an instinctive apprehension that they would
make me still more restless and unhappy. I felt, at times, so
miserable, that I took no interest in life. At this crisis, another
incident occurred, trivial in itself, and apparently casual, but
it was one of those agencies which were working together for my
good. Our coachman brought with him, from the pious family which we
had been visiting, some religious tracts; and on passing through
the kitchen I saw one on the dresser; it was _Poor Joseph_.[35]
I took it and read it. It delighted me from its singularity. I
involuntarily exclaimed, when I had finished reading it, 'What a
contrast between this poor half-witted man and myself! he is in
ecstasy when referring to Jesus Christ coming into the world to save
sinners, but I can only refer to this great fact with apathy and
indifference. How is this?' It appeared strange, and was a heavy
burden on my heart."

  [35] Vol. i. p. 152.

"Our Lord says, 'They that be whole need not a physician, but
they that are sick' (Matt. ix. 12). A man in health looks with
indifference on the physician; but not so the dying patient. It
is a deep sense of personal guilt, and a vivid apprehension of
positive danger, that fits a sinner to form a correct estimate of
the need and value of a Saviour. When such a discovery is made and
felt, then it is hailed with rapture, and mental repose is enjoyed
as the consequence of trusting on the Saviour for pardon and
salvation."

"I now perceive and feel this; but it would still have been hidden
from me, had it not been for another circumstance. I had one gay
friend to whom I was much attached; indeed, with the exception of
my parents, she was the only person I really loved. She completely
ruled me, though one of the most gentle creatures I ever knew.
I was never so happy as when in her company. She was as fond of
the gay world as myself. On one occasion we had both accepted an
invitation to a grand ball given by Sir John Markham, but in the
morning I received a note from my friend requesting me not to expect
to meet her there; adding, 'I withdraw from the gay world, and
for ever. It is a vain show, which promises happiness, but yields
none. Don't be alarmed; I will explain when I see you.' This note
took me by surprise; but I was more pleased than distressed. I
refrained from going to the ball, and went to see my friend. She
then informed me that her attention had recently been turned to her
Bible, by a sermon she heard preached by the Rev. James Harrington
Evans, and she had resolved to seek lasting happiness by yielding
herself to God, through the redemption of Christ Jesus the Lord. Her
conversation, though somewhat unintelligible to me, was in perfect
harmony with the sentiments I had previously heard others express. I
now readily complied with her earnest solicitation to accompany her,
on the following Sunday morning, to hear the same eloquent preacher.
We went together. His text was, 'For through him we both have access
by one Spirit unto the Father' (Eph. ii. 18). When he was explaining
to us the nature of access to the Father, and showing us why and how
we ought to come to Him, the veil was removed, and the light of life
shone with clear radiance into my heart. I felt subdued, captivated;
and, for the first time of my life, I could say, 'Now I know where
true happiness is to be found.' _Now_ I could understand your
letter. I followed, then, without hesitation, my friend's example,
in withdrawing from the gay world."

"I suppose," here remarked Mrs. Lewellin, "the secession of two such
gay devotees from the circle of fashion, occasioned some little
tumult?"

"O, yes, we had a few calls from some of the more inquisitive, who
live on excitement; but we were both inflexible, and now we are
subjected to no annoyance."

"What did your parents say?"

"I think they were more pleased than otherwise, especially my dear
mother, whose health had been rapidly declining for some months.
Very soon afterwards she was confined to her room; and God honoured
me to be the instrument in directing her to the Lamb of God, who
gave his life a ransom for many. She passed through a severe ordeal
of mental suffering during her long illness; but when descending
into the dark valley, she saw, by faith, Jesus coming to receive
her; and she died in peace."

"These varied conflicts, my dear Miss Rawlins, in which you have
been engaged, must have proved a severe trial to you."

"They have rather seriously affected my health, which has given way,
and occasioned our present visit to Malvern."

"I congratulate you on your rescue from the allurements of a vain
and giddy world. Now that you are made alive from the dead, you must
yield yourself to God, to fear, and love, and glorify him, and show
forth his praise."

"As I have now, my dear Mrs. Lewellin, unbosomed to you the secrets
of my heart, I shall feel more at ease. But, O! where can I find
words adequate to express my grateful feelings to my adorable
Saviour, for the marvellous manifestations of his sovereign
compassion and love to my dear mother, my beloved friend, and
myself!"

The next day Mrs. Lewellin went with Miss Rawlins, to see the old
woman who lived in the cottage on the common. On entering, they
found her in her arm chair, with her Bible open before her, so
intent on what she was reading, that she did not appear to notice
them, till she was spoken to.

"Sit down, ladies; I am glad to see you."

"At your old employment, I see," said Miss Rawlins.

"Why, Miss, I don't know that I can be at a better. It is proper
that a child should read his father's epistles of love, and that a
servant should study to know what his master requires him to do and
suffer."

"Do you ever feel weary of reading the parts of the Bible you have
read before?"

"It is, Miss, with God's Word, as it is with God's world. We enjoy a
serene evening and the beauties and melodies of the spring, as much
this year, as we did in any gone-by year of our life. I was just
thinking, before you ladies came in, that I could say nearly off at
heart the third chapter of John's Gospel; and yet I could read it
again, with as much pleasure and profit, if not more, than I did the
first time I read it. There is such a wonderful depth, and such a
rich fulness and living power in God's Word."

"What book," inquired Mrs. Lewellin, "do you like next to the Bible?"

"O, dear, Ma'am, I have long done with all other books. I used
to like good John Bunyan's _Pilgrim_, and I have read it through
many times; but now I care about no book but my Bible. I sometimes
think I should like to take the Bible with me to heaven, as then I
should be able to have some dark sayings explained, which I can't
understand now."

"You have no doubts, I suppose, about the certainty of your
salvation?"

"No, Ma'am; not _now_. Some time since, I was greatly distressed
with doubts and fears, but now all my anxieties are at rest. I stand
with my staff in my hand, waiting to hear my Father call me home. He
will call soon."

"How simple, and how dignified," said Mrs. Lewellin, as they were
leaving the cottage, "are the anticipations of an old disciple, when
approaching the entrance to the heavenly kingdom!"

"And what a contrast," replied Miss Rawlins, "to the devotees of
fashion! They will amuse themselves at the card-table, till their
hands become too enfeebled to play; and even on a death-bed will
listen with deep interest to descriptions of operas and plays, a new
singer, or a new actor; inquire with eager curiosity who wore the
most splendid dress at the ball--what new marriage is now on the
_tapis_--in short, will listen to anything, however trifling, to
keep off the thought of dying."

"Yes," said Mrs. Lewellin; "and when, for form's sake, the
officiating priest is sent for, and he has gone through the
prescribed ceremonies--has read the absolution and given the
sacrament, and they have thus made their peace with God--they still
live on, as long as they can live, amidst the gay scenes of former
times now gone from them for ever. But to that one great event in
their moral history, which is so certain, and so near at hand,
all references or allusions are imperatively forbidden, as though
its entire oblivion could prevent its actual occurrence. O, it is
painful to think of the terrific surprise and overwhelming horror
which will seize on their spirits, when they pass into the eternal
world!"

"Yes, my dear; and if _our_ preparations for death, and if our
reminiscences and anticipations when dying, should bear, as I trust
they will, a nearer resemblance to the dignified deportment, and the
sweet serenity of the old woman on the common, than to the criminal
frivolity of these self-doomed devotees of fashionable life, we
must, in imitation of the devout Psalmist, and with tears of joyous
gratitude, ever say--'Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy
name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake'--(Psalm
cxv. 1.)"

On their return from this visit, Mrs. Lewellin said, with some
embarrassment of manner, "We have now, my dear Miss Rawlins, been at
Malvern longer than we contemplated. We leave to-morrow, but I hope
that we may again meet somewhere on earth, to renew the sweet and
hallowed intercourse we have so much enjoyed here."

"I am thankful that you kept the secret of your departure to the
last moment. An earlier intimation of the exact time would have had
on my heart a very depressing effect. Our conversations at Malvern
will ever be held by me in pleasing remembrance, and I shall long
for an opportunity to renew them. Good night. We will have no formal
parting. It will be too painful."

As Mr. and Mrs. Lewellin had exceeded the time which they had
originally contemplated spending on their tour, they now proceeded
homewards to Rockhill, where they found Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe, and a
few other friends, waiting to welcome them to their new home. The
meeting was a delightful one, nothing having occurred to either
party, during their absence, to occasion annoyance or perplexity.

A few months after their return, Mrs. Lewellin received the
following letter from Miss Rawlins:--

     "DEAR MRS. LEWELLIN,--It will give you, I have no doubt, some
     pleasure to hear that I am again in my father's house, and in
     the enjoyment of perfect health and vigour. And you will, I
     doubt not, unite with me in humble adoration and gratitude to
     the God of all grace, not only for the grace bestowed on me--one
     of the most worthless of the unworthy--but for his marvellous
     loving-kindness to my dear father, who is so much delighted,
     and so deeply moved by the preaching of the Rev. J. H. Evans,
     that he attends his chapel with me regularly every Sabbath.
     Though there is no decisive evidence that he is become a new
     creature in Christ Jesus, yet I hope he is entering the narrow
     way that leads to life. He spends much of his time in reading
     his Bible and Doddridge's _Exposition_, and is very earnest in
     his inquiries about coming to Christ to be saved. Truly the
     God of grace often works wonders. My endeared friend, Miss
     Forrester, whom you saw with me at Malvern, is now, and is
     likely to continue to be for some time, an inmate in our family.
     We were one in spirit when we were living and moving amidst the
     frivolous and ensnaring gaieties of life; and we are still one
     in spirit now we are both united to the Lord; but it is a spirit
     of a purer nature, and one that death cannot destroy.

     "I often think of our unlooked-for meeting at Malvern, and the
     pleasant hours of Christian intercourse we spent together when
     there. I hope both you and Mr. Lewellin have been enjoying good
     health since your return home. I need not say how glad I shall
     be to hear from you. Write soon, and believe me, ever yours,

     "LETITIA."



THE WANDERER'S RETURN.


Some months having now elapsed since Mr. Lewellin's marriage, I
set off to pay my long promised visit to my esteemed friend and
his lady. I was accompanied by Mrs. Orme, who joined me in London
from the Elms, and after a pleasant journey we arrived safely at
Rockhill. It was promptly decided that the first half of my time
should be spent with them, and the other at Fairmount, with Mr. and
Mrs. Stevens. The day after my arrival, I took a stroll round the
farm with Mr. Lewellin, and I was much gratified by its general
appearance. I did not see his bailiff, Harry Pickford, as he was
gone to Weyhill fair, to purchase a few South-down sheep; but I
had great pleasure in hearing that his master had every reason to
be satisfied with him, and that great confidence was placed in his
judgment and activity. "He is," Mrs. Lewellin facetiously remarked,
"an able professor in the science of agriculture; and I think,
Sir, if you examine Mr. Lewellin, you will pronounce him an apt
scholar. He has made much rapid progress in his studies during the
session;--he may possibly take a degree."

On the Sabbath it was arranged, while we were at breakfast, that
Mrs. Orme should ride to church with our kind host and hostess;
but I preferred walking, as I wished to take the same route I
had taken some years before, and ascertain, if possible, what
practical effect had resulted from my casual advice to Robert
Curliffe, whom, on a previous occasion, I had found working in his
garden,[36] with his two sons. It was a fine autumn morning, without
a cloud; the air was