« PoprzedniaDalej »
Madam, cried my sister, truth obliges me to say, that I should not have experienced the ill treatment I have received from my once tender parent, had it not been for the ill offices you have constantly rendered me. He has been the dupe of your artifice. With regard to clothes, if my father will give me nothing, I ought not to wish to make a grand appearance. I hope I shall neither ask for them, nor want them.
At these words the colour came into Mrs. Barnwell's face, and she poured forth a torrent of abuse, with which I shall not defile my paper. We left them, and went to dress for dinner, and I then wrote so far my account of the proceedings of this happy day.
I believe when Mrs. Barnwell sees my sister at dinner, she will not think that she stands very much in need of clothes. It cannot be long kept secret that there is a wedding. Mrs. Mildmay and all our family will be in white, and Mrs. Neville will sit at the head of the table.
Mr. Small, a tenant of my father's, has just called to know whether we have any commands which he can execute in London. I will send this letter by him, as you will have it a day sooner; and should any thing occur worth relating, either your niece or I will write to-morrow. She is now with me, and desires your prayers for her happiness, and that she may conduct herself with propriety in this new state. It is agreed that she shall write to-morrow. She then hopes to inform you when we shall be in town,
I am, dear Madam,
From Mrs. Neville to Mrs. Worthington.
MY DEAR AUNT, Miss NEVILLE has informed you of my interview with my father and Mrs. Barnwell, and of some of her unkind speeches. She has however considerably altered her behaviour, and we are all invited to dine at Barnwell Hall. Mr. Neville and my dear husband would not promise to accept the invitation, till they had consulted me. I told them that the sufferings I had endured in my father's house, my God having much more than recompensed me, I considered as though they had never been. Besides, said I, how much better is it to suffer injuries than to do them. These reasons satisfied my friends, and we are to go on Monday next. On Tuesday we shall prepare for. our journey; and on Wednesday evening, with the divine permission, Mr. Neville and Miss Neville, and my dear Mr. Neville and myself, hope to see you at Islington in good health.
Maria intimated in her letter how elegantly I was dressed. This I submitted to, rather than desired. In future I shall be left in that respect to my own judgment.
When we were called to dinner, my friends were in the dining-room, and I went without ceremony and placed myself at the head of the table. This and my gay appearance astonished my father and Mrs. Barnwell. She sat at my left side, and immediately looked at my hand. She afterward said, that the moment I sat down she knew I was married. She remained silent; but my father could not conceal his surprise. Am I at a wedding, cried he to Mr. Neville, or am I dreaming? My girl at the head of your table, and dressed like a princess ? This is what I cannot comprehend.
I think, Sir, replied Mr. Neville, there is no difficulty in understanding that every one does not view your daughter
in the same bad light in which you have done. The heach of the table is the place where my son's wife ought to sit.
Silence ensued for nearly half a minute. My father then said, My friends, I am astonished; but I am happy, .and I am thankful. I cannot forget that I am a father, nor did I ever forget it. I acknowledge that I have treated my child very roughly, and I am sorry that I have done so. I did it because I considered her as rushing upon her own destruction: it gives me pleasure that I have been mistaken.
Sir, replied Mr. Neville, you have said enough. My son did not ask your consent, for two reasons : first, because he saw that your mind was unhappily alienated from your daughter; and in the next place, because he wished to show you that he expected no portion.
Be assured, Sir, said Mr. William Neville, that every thing which has passed is buried in oblivion. You had an aversion to strictness in religion, thinking it would injure your daughter in the esteem of many persons, as it certainly has done. · We all know you acted according to your views of propriety, and we excuse you. Indeed, all would be well, were there not another tribunal at which the issue will be more important. The plea of ignorance will there be over-ruled, because the statute-book of heaven is in your hand.
Friend Barnwell, cried Mr. Clifford, you and I have been very unwise. 1, for rejecting a volume which promotes the happiness of those who follow its instructions, in this world, and which will, I doubt not, make them happy hereafter ; and you, for thinking yourself a Christian when you do not know the first principles of Christianity. Whenever
talk about it, you represent a person's paying his debts as the whole of Christianity: whereas that is what men of all religions are agreed in.
I know so much, Sir, answered my father, as not to be drawn into a dispute about it. Besides, I feel myself so very happy in my new son-in-law, and my other new relations, that I have no mind to put myself out of humour.
Well, my dear children, continued he, I hope, as a proof of your being reconciled to me, that you will dine with me on Monday next, together with all my friends who sit round this friendly board.
This, atter I had been privately consulted, was agreed to. Many obliging things were said to us by all present, the repetition of which would be uninteresting. Even Mrs. Barnwell was not sparing in her compliments. They came indeed with not the best grace from her; but neither I nor my friends were disposed to be offended. My father was happy in a high degree on account of my marriage : for notwithstanding his dislike of religion and of religious people, yet his hatred of religion in me was chiefly because he thought it would hinder my wordly advancement; and as he thinks that is secured, every thing else is with him of -small importance.
I should here conclude, did I not know that you would be glad to hear the substance of a discourse between Mr. Neville and Dr. Mildmay.
The doctor began with saying, that as God in his kind providence had delivered Mr. Neville and his family from the errors of popery, and which was of much greater importance, had brought them to the knowledge of salvation by Jesus Christ, he hoped he should have the pleasure of seeing them at church.
Mr. Neville replied, I would gladly attend, Sir, on your ministry, if I could conscientiously do it; for I believe you have clearer views of the nature of the gospel than the clergy of the church of England in general, or even than many dissenting ministers : but I am not convinced either of the lawfulness of religious establishments, or of their use. fulness.
If, Sir, answered Dr. Mildmay, you have any scruples about the lawfulness of attending at the national church, I will not urgé it; for I wish every person to go to that place of worship where he can gain the most advantage. I preach, I am persuaded, the same gospel which the apostles preached; but I am not so uncharitable as to suppose that it is
not also preached among dissenters of different denominations. I wish, however, to hear your objections to religious establishments.
I disapprove of them, Sir, answered Mr. Neville, because they are unscriptural. We read of them no where in the New Testament, except in those parts which predict the corruption of Christianity. The revelation of John, especially, treats of the grand apostasy which was to take place in the Christian church through the interference of the kings of the earth. From the moment I understood the predictions of that apostasy, I had not one word more to say in behalf of the church of Rome : and as soon as Doctor Mildmay views them in the same light that I do, the church of England, and every national church, must sink in his esteem. Our Lord declared before Pilate, that his kingdom was not of this world. Every church invested with worldly power, and endowed by the state with riches, is related to that apostate church which is drunken with the blood of the saints. However corrupt in doctrine or in practice private churches may have been, they have never been bloody and persecuting churches.
Happily for them, that has not been in their power.
May not every religious duty be practised, said Dr. Mildmay, and every religious blessing be enjoyed, as well in the church of England as among dissenters?
I think not, answered Mr. Neville ; Christians in churchfellowship are warranted by Scripture to expect considerable advantages, provided they conform to the rules laid down by their divine Master, to which rules a national church cannot conform. They are not united together merely to hear the gospel in one building, but it is also their duty to choose one to preside over them, who they judge will watch for their souls, as one that must give an account; and suitable directions are given them for that purpose. Their pastor must be a lover of the gospel, a lover of good men, and one that rules well his own house ; none of which qualifications is deemed of any importance in a national church. It is likewise the duty of a