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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.

RICHARD NELSON.

No. III.

“ Ye hear in the Gospel the express words of our Saviour Christ, that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Whereby ye may perceive the great necessity of this Sacrament, where it may be had."-Office of Baptism for those of Riper Years.

DURING the summer, after the conversation last related, in which, as the reader may remember, we had been speaking of the Athanasian Creed, I was called away to a distance from home by the unexpected illness of a near relation, which became serious, and lasted so long as to keep me absent for two or three Sundays. The time of year was about Midsummer, and it so happened that one of the Sundays was the eighth after Trinity. Thinking over the first morning lesson of the day, as I sat watching by my kinsman's bedside, I was forcibly struck by the awful way, in which it appears to impress upon men the duty of separating themselves, in some way or other, from unbelievers. “ Eat no bread, nor drink water, neither turn again by the way that thou camest :" that is, "however tired, hungry, and thirsty you may be, and however kind and pressing they may be, have nothing at all to say to them : do not even return the same road, but make yourself as strange among them as ever you can." Long and deeply, with my Bible in my hand, did I muse upon this history, and the more I thought, the more I was convinced, putting every thing together, that such as I have said is its true moral and meaning. I must own, however, that the train of thought was not altogether agreeable to me. I could not disengage myself from an unpleasant, though not a very distinct, conviction that this material part of piety, separation from the enemies of God, had not been suffi

VOL. I.

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Gilbert & Rivington, Printers,

St. John's Sonare Lord

ciently pressed on my people, in my course of parochial instruction. The thought came across my mind, “ What if any of them now should go astray for want of due warning on that point, and should come to a bad end ?" And I secretly determined with myself, in the silence of the sick room, that I would endeavour for the future to supply this great deficiency, and that until Church discipline can be restored again (which the Prayer Book teaches us to wish and pray for), I would try to prevail on those who were most likely to be prevailed to act upon the principles of it, and establish something like it in their own houses : using a kind of holy reserve towards those who will not hear the Church. These thoughts occupied me that night during most of my waking hours, my patient happily sleeping soundly, and my anxiety about him of course growing less : and when towards morning I was relieved on my post as nurse, the same thoughts still haunted me in my dreams. At last I settled into a sound slumber, and, as was not unnatural, overslept myself. I was awakened on the Monday morning, an hour after the usual time, by my friend's servant bringing a letter into my room, which I saw by the postmark came from my own parish, but I could not at all recollect the hand writing. I opened it eagerly, not knowing what to expect, and read as follows:

“ Honoured and dear Sir, “I make bold to trouble you with a few lines, as I find on calling at the Parsonage that Mr. Mason is not yet well enough for you to leave him : which a little troubled me, for I wanted to ask your kind advice on a matter of some consequence, and I could do it much more comfortably by word of mouth. As it is, I must try and state my case to you by letter, hoping that I shall be able to make it plain, and knowing that you will excuse other defects, which will be many. The thing, Sir, is this : you have seen something of my nephew, young Philip Carey, the bricklayer of Amdale. For I remember, when he had some work in our parish, he went to you to buy a Bible, and you had some talk with him, and named him to me afterwards, seeming rather pleased with him ; and indeed he is a steady, good tempered lad, though I say it that should not say it. Well, Sir, that Bible was intended for a present, he would not tell me then to whom, but I afterwards found that he had given it to a young woman named Vane, who was in service, where he last worked : and in short, there was a talk among the people, which I as a kinsman was one of the last to hear, that they were very soon going to be married. I was not very much surprised at this : but I own to you, Sir, I was more vexed than some of our people can well account for. Not that I have any thing to say against the young woman's conduct; indeed I believe she has always borne a good character, and is, as the world goes, very respectable: but I know very well that her father had been for many years unsettled in his thoughts on religion-more, as I believed, of a Baptist than any thing else : and I thought to myself, if Letitia (for that is her name) is not very different from her father, how can the Church's blessing go along with such an union ? and without the Church's blessing, how can they expect to be happy ? So I made it my business to see my nephew, and asked him quietly, if no scruple of this sort had ever come into his mind; and a good deal passed between us, which I need not at present tire you with. However, the upshot was, we parted good friends, but both of the same mind as when we met. And on the Sunday I walked over to Amdale, and called on my sister Lucy, Philip's mother (his father died last year), and we had a long discourse, in which she seemed to think me strange and bigoted : but yet I hoped that what I had said would keep them from going on quite inconsiderately. So much the more was I disappointed at receiving a note from my sister this morning, begging me to order my matters so as to be at Amdale church at ten o'clock next Saturday, they having fixed on that day for the wedding, and wishing me to give the young woman away. I can see, they quite reckon upon it, and I fear they will be very much affronted should I refuse. I conclude they hardly thought me quite in earnest in what I said to them. But though it will be a great grief to me to have them look unpleasant at me (for next to my own family, I have always delighted in my sister's), I seem to have made up my mind, unless you, Sir, should think differently, not to have anything to do with this marriage ; and I cannot help thinking they will one day thank me for it. I shall not now intrude on you with my reasons; but one line just to say yes or no would greatly oblige,

“Honoured and dear Sir,
“ Your obliged and humble servant,

“Richard Nelson." When I had read this letter, though I was grieved to think that my friend Richard, who had always lived such a quiet life, and with whom I had sometimes talked of the great happiness we both enjoyed--a rare happiness in these times-of belonging, each of us, to a family undivided in religious opinions : though, I say, I was grieved to think of Richard's being thus disturbed, yet

I was on the whole more pleased for the thing to have befallen him than if it had happened to any other man in the parish, for reasons which the reader will easily guess. I wrote to him as he desired, not a long letter, but such as to show him that I heartily approved of his principles, and trusted to his discretion for applying them in the inost effectual way. While I stayed with my relation, I heard no more of the matter, but I thought of it day and night, and wondered how it would turn out. The middle of the next week, my relation having nearly recovered, I returned home; and the first thing I did was to contrive a little job of walling, that I might have an excuse for sending to Richard Nelson. I saw at once, when he came into the room, that he had been going through a good deal; he looked anxious, though very calm and cheerful. The following conversation, or something very like it, passed between us, after I had given my orders about the work :

“ And how goes on this wedding, Richard ?”

“Pretty much as I expected, Sir: we have had a good deal to say to each other about it, I, and my sister, and Mr. Vane; but though I spoke very plainly to them, they would not believe I was in earnest, till the very day before that intended for the marriage. And when they saw that I meant what I said, they were forced to put off the marriage, till a friend of theirs can be written to, and come, with whom it seems they had made an old engagement, that he should be the father at their wedding, if any one was, out of their two families. In the mean time I am sorry to say they look rather black on me; and not only they,

but a many of the neighbours too. But luckily I had made up my mind to that beforehand.”

“ They must look black upon me, too, then. For I should have done just the same, according to what I understand of the case. But I suppose you told them on what ground you went ?”

“I did, Sir, as well as I could, in my plain way. I saw them all at different times, Mr. Vane, and my sister, and the two young people, and told them all the same thing; viz. that I look on marriage as a sacred thing ; that the Church never meant her sacred things to be made common; that such would be the case, were a person in Letitia's state (for do you know, Sir, she is not yet even baptized) to be admitted to Christian marriage ; that the neglect of this rule is every day doing great mischief; and that, being as I am, Philip's godfather, as well as his nearest relation, I was bound especially to do what I could to hinder him from the sin and the peril.

“And it was curious to me, Sir, in the midst of my vexation, to observe in what a different way the different persons I had to deal with received what I had to say. Each had his own objection, one to one part of my notions, and another to another. Mr. Vane thought it very strange that marriage should be made so purely a matter of religion; my sister, I am sorry to say, was inclined to think very slightly of the difference between us and the Baptists; Philip was quite sure, that let him be once married, he should soon bring his wife to the same way of thinking as himself, (for to do him justice, he has no thought of leaving the Church ;) and, as for the young woman, she said but little, but what she said, affected me more than all the rest ; for she really seemed to think me unkind and cruel, in exposing and discrediting her, and making her out (so she said) to be no Christian."

“ I do not much wonder,” said I, at the young people ; but I own I am a little surprised that Mr. Vane should utter a thought which appears to me so very shocking, as that marriage need not be sanctified by religion at all."

“Why, Sir," replied Richard Nelson," he has been of late much out and about, talking with all sorts of people ; and then he meddles with politics and elections, all rather in a wild way, and it

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