Obrazy na stronie

them in temporal things. In the apostolic age there was no priestly domination ; but the preachers were gentle among their fellow Christians, even as a nurse cherisheth her children. Their hearers were in their hearts, and they were ready to die and live with them; and they received from their hearers a return of affection. Can such mutual love be expected where the preachers are appointed by law, and paid out of the labours of the people without asking their consent ? Ought we to wonder that the hireling, in general, careth not for the flock, and that the flock careth as little for the hireling?

There is a company of strolling players at Warhampton. My father and mother agreed, while they were at breakfast, to go to the play, this being the first night. She used many arguments to induce me to accompany them, and among other things said, that as much might be learned from a good play as from a sermon. I replied, that some sermons were written by the same persons who wrote plays, and that consequently the latter were likely to be as good as the former.

And what disparagement, said she, is that to them?

I replied that plays were unfriendly to the cause of morality.

The abuse of a thing, said she, is no argument against its use.

A well-regulated theatre is a great benefit to a country. Why may there not be moral plays, as well as immoral ? The book of Job is a dramatic poem, founded upon facts, as many of our plays are.

A well-regulated theatre, Madam, answered I, would soon be deserted. The licentious taste, therefore, of those who frequent the playhouse is consulted by the managers, and by the writers of plays. If four or five persons were to repeat; on the stage, the book of Job, I question if the audience would not grow riotous, and break up the benches, before they had gone through half a dozen chapters.

Well, said she, I shall go: I see no damage in it: and I would have you go too: for no advantage arises from being over precise. Besides, all the genteel people in the neighbourhood will be there to-night.

It may be so, Madam, replied I: but I hope I shali never deliberately go to a play ; nor indeed any where else, except I am first persuaded that the Son of God would go thither if he were upon earth.

Well, Louisa, said my mother, (iooking at her sister, and laughing,) we may venture to go. Miss Barnwell has religion enough for herself and us too.

This is the ground I myself have trodden; and I should still have walked in the same path, if God in sovereign mercy had not prevented it. What reason have his servants to adore his distinguishing favour, in saving and calling them with a holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. I can only add that I am, Dear Madam,

Your dutiful and
Affectionate niece,



From Mrs. Worthington to Miss Barnwell.

MY DEAR NIECE, I HAVE read your letter with pleasure. Your situation, my dear child, though disagreeable, is not a bad one upon the whole. That cannot be injurious to us which causes us frequently to repair to a throne of grace. Amiction is as necessary for us in the present life, as rainy and frosty weather are necessary to fertilize the earth. As your afflictions lead to God, you may infer that they come from him in

way of love. Their nature and measure, therefore, will be properly adjusted ; and as your day is, such also will be your strength.

It is a delightful night. I have been viewing the stars. I cannot without transport behold this profusion of lumi



naries, few of which are less than the sun that enlightens our earth and its kindred planets. How great that Being who created those luminaries, and who placed them at such a stupendous distance from us, and from each other! It is He who bringeth forth Mazzaroth in his season: it is He who guideth Arcturus with his son8. Amid such great affairs, are not our trifling concerns overlooked ? No, the hairs of our head are numbered ; and we are as much the objects of the care of our infinitely wise, august, and beneficent Creator, as if he had brought us alone into existence. He marked out the bounds of our habitation before we came into being; and he has promised that he will never leave us, nor forsake us. What then should hinder us from being calm and serene in every situation, and in every condition of life?

Mr. C. Clifford's letter gives me great hope concerning him. Poor young man! he comes out of as irreligious a family as any in the kingdom. I once heard his father boast that he had not been in a place of worship du. ring the last twenty years. But as in the house of Jeroboam there was an Abijah, in whom was found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel ; so, in the present day, God sometimes takes his servants out of the families of his avowed enemies.

I wish our dear Eusebia not to refuse this gentleman, if he shall appear to be a sincere Christian. This can only. be known by his continuing in the doctrine which is according to godliness, and by his bearing such fruit as is produced by those vines which are of God's planting. It affords me pleasure to view the gracious providence of our heavenly Father, who appears to me to be raising him up for a blessing to my friend.

Does there not appear to you in Mr. Clifford's letter an internal proof of his sincerity ? I seem to myself to have such a kind of certainty of it, as Delilah had of the sincerity of Samson when he showed her all his heart.

I have been thinking of the difference between a true Christian and a hypocrite. A hypocrite is a religious

professor destitute of the love of God, and of the spirit of Christ, and who has no love to the truth. He frequently deceives the servants of God; those who are of the truth : but most of all he deceives himself. Christians frequently have doubts concerning him : that, however, is not always the case.

Judas had art enough not to be detected for a considerable time. But as a worldly spirit entirely actuates every hypocrite, that spirit, however he may curb it to render himself agreeable to those with whom he associates, will constantly influence him. Because he endeavours to disguise his motives, and to appear what he is not, he is called a hypocrite ; that is, an actor or player, whose employment is to appear in the character of others, and not in his own. Great wisdom is required to enable us to judge of our own sincerity, and of the hypocrisy of others; since, in this imperfect state, a Christian is not entirely destitute of hypocrisy, nor a hypocrite of every kind of sincerity. In worldly matters, our own interest demands that we be sincere. A hypocrite, therefore, if he be a prudent man, will, in general, be sincere in his dealings ; and a Turk or a Jew will be the same. On the other hand, an imprudent Christian may, through remaining ignorance and temptation, be warped from sincerity in worldly things; but he will suffer severely for it. In this seems to lie the great difference between the one and the other. The Christian is sincere in his love to God, to his law, to his pure gospel, and to sincerity, justice, mercy, and righteousness of every kind. He shudders at the thought of being drawn aside from any of these things, and abhors himself in dust and ashes when he is convinced that this has been the case. Peter wept bitterly when he reflected how deceitfully and unkindly he had behaved respecting his Lord : and we may infer that the same apostle suffered considerable compunction on account of the insincerity and dissimulation for which Paul so kindly and so faithfully reproved him. On the contrary, the hypocrite, or the religious professor destitute of the spirit of Christ, cannot love God as his character is drawn in the Scriptures. He may love a God; but it is the idol of his own imagination. In like manner, if he love the gospel, it is a corrupted gospel ; for not being actuated by the Spirit of Christ, which leads to an entire dependence on Christ, he is necessarily influenced by a spirit of self-dependence. This is the case with every unregenerate man. Nor does he love the law of God, because it is a transcript of the divine mind, infinitely excellent in itself, and agreeable to his own renewed nature ; but he yields an unwilling and very partial obedience to it, because he loves himself, and is willing to compound matters with his Maker, and to give him the tithe of mint, anise and cummin. He is willing to sacrifice the blind and lame of his flock, provi. ded he may be permitted to gratify his pride, his covetousness, or his ambition. In a word, he loves the gospel for no other reason than because, through his mistaken view of it, he can sin without remorse; and the law, no further than he thinks that obedience to it secures him against future punishment.

How vain and silly were the arguments of Mrs. Barnwell in behalf of stage entertainments. No arguments against them need to be addressed to the servants of God; for he effectually teaches his children to abhor such principles, and such practices.

I intended to write also to our friend ; but upon peru. sing the above, I perceive that what I have said to you is equally proper to be said to her. I request you, therefore, when you have read it, to send it in a cover to Thomas Livingstone, to whom, as also to his wife, I desire my kind respects

I am, my dear niece,
Your most affectionate aunt,


« PoprzedniaDalej »