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spring for one under more genial skies, I set off on this excursion pretty early in the year, and took my route for the British metropolis, by the stage coaches that pass through the central parts of England. And I hope my reader will not insist on our making one stride from the land of cakes' to Paris, but bear with me while I touch slightly on some matters that occupied my attention in our native land.
In proceeding through the south of Scotland, and north of England, a commercial gentleman travelled in the party, and a bold forward lady along with him, who addressed him as her brother, although it appeared singular that he should be a decided Englishman from his language, and that she should vociferate in broad Scotch. I do not enter upon further particulars, or detail the real situation of the parties : it would be at best a disagreeable task ; but it is part of my plan to state such things in this tour, as came under my own observation, that may prevent us from forgetting that our own country is also fertile in its own disgrace, and that practices having a deleterious effect upon public manners, are not confined to other nations.
Drawing farther to the south, a more agreeable moral cene presented itself. Having breakfasted at a certain place, where I was the only “ inside,” I found, on returning to the coach, that it was occupied by two females. One was a milliner's apprentice, if I might judge from the fore finger : the other a young lady of about 24 years of age, of a pleasing appearance. From this new compagnon
I received various information respecting the localities of the country through which we were passing. In the intervals I read to myself from a French Testament and Malan's Hymns. Some people have a delightful facility of elevating conversation on an indifferent subject, by linking it with its reference to eternity. They do not forbid the play of fancy or the sound of mirth; but neither do they consider the Blessed Name an iutruder on their joys, or a jarring note, as Cowper expresses it. Such an attainment is worthy of being aimed at, but it is one in which I find myself lamentably deficient. Shame of the cross lies at the bottom, and is the prime obstacle. I experience, nevertheless, even after a strenuous combat with this base propensity, a peculiar unskilfulness in getting possession of the thread of religious conversation.Being attracted however by the animation of my new associate, and the penetration of her remarks, I felt desirous that the discourse should take a more serious turn. This word “serious," is not perhaps the most apposite to use, for a dissertation on which head, see Mr. Jay's sermons. I therefore commenced in a circuitous sort of way, soliciting to know who was Bishop of the diocese, who the neighbouring rectors, their characacter, what kind of preachers they were, and so forth.
Finding from the edge and bearing of her replies, that she was not unaquainted with the distinction between what is termed evangelical preaching and the other, but that she seemed to admit and approve of a marked separation between the two; I grew bolder, and talked of certain controversies that at present agitated the religious public in Scotland, namely, the questions upon the subjects of prophecy, and of assurance being a necessary concomitant of faith. From her answers I inferred that these topics were not so generally discussed in the north of England, as with us ; for my new acquaintance, though by no means uninformed upon these points, did not seem to have heard of them as controverted matters. But with regard to the import of the millennial prophecies, she drew a very small bible from her pocket. I confess I was struck at this action; it was the first time that it had been my good fortune to have seen the sacred volume exhibited in a stage coach, and referred to as the supreme authority on any subject of conversation. She turned up the 20th chapter of Revelations, and stated her views with precision, and with the appearance of ardent aspiration after the accomplishment of the blissful events there foretold. It was impossible after this not to augur well at least of her spiritual state; the very sluices of confidence were opened, and a fervent conference of some hours followed, at which I wondered at my own loquacity; and during which, my lively and engaging fellow traveller spake of the assurance of the favour of heaven as a fruit and sequence of faith ; its nature, the obstacles to it, and the desirableness of its attainment. It was a matter of astonishment with me to hear the same opinions confessed and upheld, as are said to be the exclusive property of “ Assurance Christians” in Scotland, by one who had never so much as heard of the names of the most renowned among them. On the whole it was not a little gratifying to meet in this casual way, a young person, not without many attractions that might attach her exclusively to the world, but with her mind, to all likelihood, established upon the basis of eternity. I asked if she were a Wesleyan Methodist; but she declared herself to be of the church of England ; yet alleged it as undoubted, that of all classes of the inhabitants of South Britain, the Methodists were superior in setting their affections on things above, in renouncing self and its dependencies : and among this despised sect were many who experimentally enjoyed that unspeakable peace of mind which results from having every care, small or great, incident to humanity, made over and charged upon the Rock of Ages, who is well pleased to sustain all the burdens of those that venture their trust upon him. Like most other Scottish Calvinists, I had once, as I now suppose, erred in a sweeping condemnation of the followers of the great Wesley; but personal contact with some worthies of that class, have set my conclusions perhaps more to rights upon this subject. I was therefore not unprepared to acquiesce in the above favourable sentiment, or rather it did not shock me, as it would some excellent Presbyterians that I could name. Perhaps the scorn of the profane, to which the Wesleyans are subjected on the one hand, and the contempt of spiritually and intellectually proud Calvinists, which it is their lot to incur upon the other, has fixed this class of christians in a state the most favourable for piety of any under the sun ; where they remain free, in a measure, not only from the intoxication of sense, but from the perhaps more fatal influence of high intellectual arrogance, and the dangerous possession of admirable doctrinal knowledge, without a corresponding improvement of the heart. I shall close this digression with a hymn of M. Malan's, which formed a part of the above discussion :
Quelle est au ciel cette brillante etoile
Vers l'orient jetant un feu nouveau ?
Des sombres nuits n'avoit percé le voile.
Vers Ephrata, dans la sainte Judée,
Elle a porté ses celestes lueurs,
De qui la foi sur le Christ est fondée.