« הקודםהמשך »
God. He who is so taught is separated from the world, and a different spirit is given him : he is indeed a new man. Such a person can discern both those who are in his former state, and those who are in his present : and although there may be some few difficult cases wherein he may judge wrong, yet even in such cases, if he keep the rule in view which our Lord has given for that purpose, he will judge as he ought to judge. We can know men only by their fruits. If therefore I were to see a thorn bring forth grapes, I ought to esteem it a vine, until time and experience convinced me that they were not its natural fruit.
I confess, Madam, said he, that you have answered very well. But as you lay claim to the gift of discerning spirits, I have a favour to ask, which is, that you will as a friend sincerely and honestly tell me whether you think me to be a believer or an unbeliever? I give you my word that nothing you may say shall offend me.
The children of God, replied I, know that they are passed from death unto life, because they love his character, and love his saints. You therefore, Sir, ought to conclude that you are yet in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity, because you have persecuted one of his children, and occasioned her death ; one who truly esteem. ed you, and offered many prayers mixed with tears for your happiness, as well as for the happiness of the rest of her friends.
The poor gentleman was greatly moved. He cried out, with hands lifted up, and with tears in his eyes, I have done my patron's child much injury, beside being the indirect cause of her death. I have not been actuated by the spirit of Christ. Like Saul, I have persecuted Christ. God be merciful to me. I beseech you to pray for me.
I hope, Sir, replied I, that God has given you repentance unto life.
Alas, cried be, my sins are of infinite magnitude. ,
Suppose that were really the case, said I, there would be no necessity for despair. The price paid by the Re
deemer was an infinite price; so that notwithstanding sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded. If you think that you are the greatest of sinners, you only think as other sinners have thought. But, Sir, have you not had some thoughts concerning these things before to-day?
Yes, Miss Barnwell, answered he, very many, I assure you. My conscience frequently smote me when that excellent lady, whose death I have occasioned, conversed with me. I was, however, so exasperated against all those whorn I then thought to be heretics, that I stised every conviction. But since her father accused me of being the cause of her death, I have not enjoyed a moment's peace: and your kind interposition in my favour brought afresh to my mind the divine philanthropy of that excellent young lady, whose kindness seemed to increase in the same proportion as I persecuted her. Oh, Madam, I perceive myself to be as different from you and her, as a wolf is from a lamb: and the undisguised truth is this; I came into the wilderness on purpose to converse with you.
I told father Albino, that if God should mercifully cause him to be a real Christian, he would most probably be thereby exposed to many evils in this world, from the resentment of Mr. Neville especially.
Do you think it necessary then, my dear friend, said he, that I should become a protestant, in order to become a Christian ? Are there no catholics who are Christians ? • You will find it necessary, replied I, to regulate your conduct by the New Testament. If you should find in that divine book the Roman catholic religion, I do not advise you to abandon the church of Rome. I do not wish you to leave that church any further than she has left the apostles.
How forcible, cried the old gentleman, are right words! With the divine assistance I will take your advice, and endeavour to learn what I fear I have not yet learned, the first principles of the oracles of God. And I thou Foun. tain of light, I beseech thee for the sake of thy holy Child Jesus, to dispel my darkness. To this I replied, I pray that God may next and answer your prayer.
My friends were agreeably surprised when I related this conversation. They unite in love to you with,.
My dear aunt,
Your dutiful and
MY DEAR NIECE, I RECEIVED Mr. William Neville's letter, and also yours. Please to tell that gentleman that his correspondence will afford me great pleasure.
What short-sighted creatures we are ! I dreaded the consequence when Mr. Neville should know that his son and daughter were protestants. But things now, I thank God, wear a promising aspect; for that gentleman seems to view persecution, which is the most horrid part of poper'y, in its true light.
I also thank God on account of what you have related concerning father Albino. I hope he has been renewed by divine grace; for that only is able to make the wolf dwell peaceably with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid. This is the man who but a fortnight ago breathed hatred and malice against the saints of the most High. God has touched this lofty mountain, and has levelled it with the lowest valley. We may say to the proudest sinner, and to every thing that opposes the cause of the Redeemer, Who art thou, O great mountain ? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain. Many have I seen who were exceedingly furious, and even mad, against the ways and people of God, whom in the midst of their carecr an arrow from the divine quiver has smitten, and who have immediately laid down their arins, and become the reverse of what they were before. Paul was a remarkable in
stance of God's acting in this sovereign way; and in all his writings he took abundant care that succeeding ages should know that he beheld himself in that light. I do not say that no real Christian can be an Arminian; but he must be a very inconsistent one, if it is indeed true, that we are saved by the obedience of the Son of God. I say obedience; since his sufferings are a part of that obedience, and indeed the finishing part. It is nevertheless true, that all who perish where the gospel is preached, will have only lo blame their own depravity, which showed itself in their voluntary neglect or rejection of the Saviour.
Since I wrote the above, Mr. and Mrs. Barnwell have arrived here. I have received many favours from your father; I therefore invited them to be at my house, to which they consented. I am sorry to tell my dear niece, that I see no tokens of good in either of them. Her mind is wholly taken up about places of diversion and amusement, and how to adorn that body which will in a short time be the food of worms.
I asked your father whether you were at home?
No, Madam, replied he, I dare say you know that: nor do I wish to see her there, unless I could have my own daughter again. I have heard of children's being changed in the cradle, but never before of their being changed after they were nineteen or twenty years old ; and yet that is the case with my foolish girl. I cannot forgive her. Indeed I shall never forgive her: she knew how much I abhorred all canting and whining about religion. My daughter? she is none of my daughter ; she has not a drop of my blood in her veins, or she would not have gone into a conventicle ; a mere barn, with a few forms in it, and a tub turned upside down for a rostrum. I will take an oath that I heard either that it was a tub, or no better than a tub.
I will take your word, Sir, replied I; it is not an affair of sufficient importance to require an oath.
Nay, Madam, replied he, I must beg leave to differ from you, Is no regard to be paid to decorum ? Was it
proper that my daughter should herd with the scum of the earth.
Indeed, Madam, cried Mrs. Barnwell, it was a meeting to which no persons of fashion resorted; none but lowbred people; so that I do not wonder at Mr. Barnwell's being so angry.
Were you not a dissenter, Madam? said I.
Yes, replied she, but that was a very different affair; the most respectable tradesmen in the town went to our meeting. Mr. Pine I dare say is worth forty thousand pounds: dont you think he is, Mr. Barnwell?
He is undoubtedly very rich, answered he. And I have often said that in market towns, and great trading places, where they have a genteel place of worship, and a good salary for a reputable minister, I do not blame persons for going to meeting, especially if they were born dissenters; for I think every one ought to go where he was brought up.
Your father is come to town about his chancery-suit. By what I can learn he is not very sanguine that it will terminate in bis favour; and if it should not, the loss of this estate, and a little assistance from his wife, may put it out of his power to do much for you, even if he had the inclination. I esteem it no small mercy, my dear child, that God has put it in my power to supply the place of a parent lo you. I shall long to hear how affairs go on at Thornton Abbey. Pray remember my kind love to all the servants of our divine master there.
I am, my dear niece,
LETTER XLVIII. From Miss Barnwell to Mrs. Worthington.'' LEAR MADÁM, I THANK you for your kind letter. I have indced small expectations from my father. As I continue to receive