Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

deemer. Such society preys upon the heart of vital godliness, and leaves scarcely the appearance of religion. Of what advantage is Dr. Mildmay's preaching the gospel, when his family, and all his parishioners perceive it has no apparent effect upon himself? Will they not compare him to a way-post, which points out the road to others, but does not move a step itself? And must not his real friends fear that, like a planet, he is a dark body himself, notwithstanding he enlightens others? How can a person who takes up the cross of Christ daily, who is dead to the world, who has his conversation in heaven, who has communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, and who prays without ceasing, indulge himself in music, dancing, and cards, and in the company of irreligious persons almost every day in the week? Can he who believes that Christ came into the world to redeem him from his vain conversation, enter upon secret prayer, without resolving to break off every sinful indulgence, and without determining, like Joshua, that both he and his house will serve the Lord ?

My brother related to Dr. Mildmay the unkindness of Mr. Barnwell to his daughter, because she would not promise to go no more into a meeting. The doctor behaved very differently from Mr. Law. He said, that he wished every person to go where he could profit most ; that the going of his parishioners to meeting gave him no. um. brage ; that he could not doubt of the gospel's being preached there; and that he sincerely wished success to the gospel wherever it was preached. Indeed, Madam he is a most amiable man: and if he had married a wife who knew and loved the truth, he would probably not only have preached, but adorned the gospel. Riches may be bought too dearly. If his wife had not discouraged the practice of family worship, he would no doubt have conti nued it; and if the visits of irreligious persons had no been thus introduced into his house, closet prayer and di vine meditation would not have received a deadly wound from the frothy and trifling conversation of worldly men.

So far I had written last night. This morning Mr. Clifford and his son arrived at the Abbey a quarter before eight. My friend, said my father immediately, as you have made Miss Barwell the generous offer of five hundred pounds if she marry with my approbation, I request you to perform the ceremony of giving her to the bridegroom. In half an hour she is to be married to a young man of this parish, and the wedding is to be kept at my house I will do it with pleasure, answered Mr. Clifford ; and I will not only do what I promised, but I will endea. vour to assist them in other respects. Mr. Charles Clifford said the same. Some severe observations were made by Mr. Clifford on the conduct of Mr. Barnwell which I shall not repeat.

A servant came to tell us that Dr. Mildmay was in the church waiting for us. Your niece and I immediately repaired thither, where we found Thomas and Mary Livingstone. We were soon joined by the Mr. Cliffords and my brother. The old gentleman looked about him when he came in. Where, cried he, is the bridegroom? I suppose master Livingstone is not the young man my friend Neville told me of? Miss Barnwell, said he, where is your intended husband ? Indeed, Sir, said she, I expected him here by this time. Well, Miss Barnwell, said my brother, will you accept of me? Sir, replied she, curtsying, I cannot refuse the honour you do me. I did not think, Sir, said Mr. Clifford to my brother, that I should have the pleasure this day to congratulate you on your marriage. I assure you I do it with great satisfaction, and am happy you have made so wise a choice. I shall esteem it an honour to present this lady to you; and I am persuaded you will receive a fortune in her, if not with her.-The ceremony was soon performed, to the great satisfaction of all present.

I intended to relate the whole of this day's proceedings; but a post would be thereby lost. I therefore conclude with assuring you that I am, Dear Madan,

Your sincere friend,
And faithful servant,

MARIĄ NEVILLE.

LETTER LXV.

From Miss Neville to Mrs. Worthington.
DEAR MADAM,
I

CONCLUDED my last letter with the pleasing account of my having a new sister. After we had breakfasted, during which time many obliging things were said by the Mr. Cliffords, my father observed, that if his dear Eusebia had been here, his happiness would have been as complete as mortality can possibly enjoy. This is the sorrowful string which my parent is continually striking : and it renews my grief, on account of the unkind treatment she received from me. I can only say with Paul, that I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Mr. Clifford remarked, that persecution on account of religion came with a bad grace from his friend Barnwell, who had no religion at all. He indeed, said he, goes to church pretty constantly, except in September, when partridge shooting comes in; but he knows nothing of Christianity, nor of the sects into which it is divided. Every one who dissents from the church of England he calls a Presbyterian.

If, said my father, there were no other proof of his want of religion, his being a persecutor would abundantly prove it. The less a man knows, the more positive he generally is. But I have the least reason of any person living to reproach Mr. Barnwell. I always considered him as a person destitute of religion. But a person may be very zealous, and his zeal may be exceedingly culpable, and even worse than irreligion. This, Sir, was my own case.

Pray, Mr. Neville, said Mr. Clifford, what in a few words do you think is the essence of Christianity? This question was productive of the following conversation.

Mr. Nev. The love of God, with which the love of mankind is invariably connected. And he only loves God, who loves divine revelation ; for divine reyelation contains the mind of God.

Mr. Clif. Wherefore is that worship given to a man which is due only to God? This practice, and the wicked lives of Christians, have been great stumbling-blocks to

me.

Mr. Nev. No Christian worships a man.

The Socini. ans, it is true, have laid this to our charge. We worship the Messiah, the Son of God, but not as a different God from the Father: much less do we believe his body and soul to be God. Is it impossible for him who is every where, and can do every thing, to manifest himself to his creatures ?

Mr. Clif. I do not know that it is : for although neither our bodily senses, nor our mental powers, can comprehend infinity, yet it does not follow that God cannot manifest himself to his creatures, in a manner and degree suited to their capacities.

Mr. Nev. You have given my own, and every Trinitarian's sentiments upon this subject. Let me further ask you, If God were graciously disposed to manifest his moral perfections to his rational creatures, would he act improperly if, assuming a form like their own, and thus putting himself upon a level with them, he were to dwell

among them?

Mr. Clif. I should esteem myself perverse, were I to say that such a way of proceeding would be improper. I will also grant that a Being, possessing infinite perfections, cannot be immediately discerned by fipite beings. I ingenuously confess, therefore, that you have answered my objection.

Mr. Nev. I hope, Sir, I shall live to see you a Christian. There is nothing in Christianity contrary to right reason, although every thing in it is contrary to the reason of those men, who, through the influence of the god of this world, are dupes to their own folly. But further, do you think it possible for God and his rational creatures to be at variance, and that they, through their perverseness, should hate him who is the fountain of natural and moral perfec: fion?

.

• Mr. Clif. I have had too sad experience of this.

Mr. Nev. And I likewise.

Mr. Clif. Your sins have been mole-hills: mine have been mountains.

Mr. Nev. I think the contrary. You have not murdered a child because she feared God; however, we will not dispute this point. Granting that an enmity exists between God and his creatures, must not a reconciliation take place before they can for ever dwell in his presence ?

Mr. Clif. There can be no doubt of it.

Mr. Nev. I think not. What niethod then did it become the divine Being to take, that he might render his enemies a grateful, loving, and obedient people? If he had forgiven them at the expense of his truth and justice, might they not at some future period have violated the di. vine law with hopes of impunity?

Mr. Clif. Perhaps that might have been the case. But I think I see what you are aiming at, and I beg you to proceed.

Mr. Nev. I hope, Sir, you will soon acknowledge, that there is nothing in Christianity so contrary to common sense as its adversaries would insinuate. Suppose the di. vine Being were to pardon some of these rebels, would it not be wise in him to suspend the pardon upon such conditions, as that they might behold in it a terrible display of his justice, and of his severity against sinners, as well as a display of his mercy ?

Mr. Clif. How can this be accomplished ?

Mr. Nev. Would not the exhibition of a voluntary surety, acting and suffering in their stead, answer this end?

Mr. Clif. I think not. Does not Christianity confound moral justice with commercial? It is the latter only which admits of a substitute. Crimes are not transferable, like property. Commercial justice is satisfied, if the debt be paid by a surety, the recovery of property being the only end sought after. But where the end is example to the community at large, justice requires the punishment to be inflicted upon the person of the offender. In case of mur

« PoprzedniaDalej »