« ElőzőTovább »
direction to be given to such is plain : let them search the sacred epistles, and learn in what manner the apostles exhorted their converts to walk so as to please God. If you follow the footsteps of those who are gone to glory, in all holy obedience, you will thereby not only greatly honour God, but also demonstrate that your knowledge is real, your faith unfeigned, and your joy such as the world can neither give nor take away.
Your fear that you have committed the unpardonable sin is, I am convinced, without foundation. This sin is called, by way of eminence, the sin against the holy Ghost, because the committers of it, after having in some measure been enlightened, and after having tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, have out of regard to some present advantage returned to their former way of life. Judas was a fearful instance of this kind, as were those Jews who could no otherwise excuse their rejection of the Messiah than by maliciously insinuating, in opposi- ' tion to their consciences, that his miracles were wrought by the power of the devil. Saul the persecutor did not commit this sin; because, notwithstanding he had much malice, he had much ignorance ;-nor Peter, when he denied his master; for although he had great light, yet he had no malice. It is the infinite mercy of God's children, that they are so kept by his power as never to be suffered to commit this sin. Here the wicked one toucheth them not, because they are born of God, and because his seed. or his Spirit and truth, remaineth in them. I hope that you will never be left to deny the kedeemer in any way; but above all I. pray that you may never more be left to hate and despise him in his followers, since that would be the unpardonable sin now, though it was not so a fortnight past.
The doctrine of election, about which you inquired of Thomas Livingstone, is one of the deep things of God, for which he has assigned no reason but his sovereign plea.
That it is true, not only divine revelation, almost in every page, but the universal voice of nature proclaims.
Eyery creature was brought into being for the glory of him who is Lord of all. He in a sovereign manner has formed them animate and inanimate, noble or ignoble, with. or without reason, as seemed good in his sight. We can assign no other cause for the creation of noxious insects, reptiles, and ravenous beasts, than that it was the pleasure of the Sovereign of heaven and earth. This reason will satisfy every one who is truly humble.
If it be asked, wherefore God permitted sin to enter into the world, and why he saves some and not others from that dire calamity ? I can only answer that so it is. The reason I know no more, than why some of his creatures are toads or serpents, while others are harmless and use. ful. Neither can I tell why one great part of the world is immersed in paganism, another in Mahometanism, another in popish darkness, nor why the inhabitants of a fourth part, though called protestants, are as ignorant of the true God, and as destitute of a well-grounded hope of eternal life, as the former. Yet these are facts. It follows, that revelation concurs with experience in declaring, that a remnant only of Jews and Gentiles was intended to be saved ; and that this reinnant is composed of those only whom the Son of God redeemned from among men. If you and I, my dear child, have just ground to believe that we are part of this remnant, it becomes us to serve, to love, and to bless him who has loved us with an everlasting love, and who has distinguished us from thousands on our right hand and on our left, who were stones of the same quarry, and clay of the same pit with ourselves.
Since I wrote the above, I have received a letter from your sister, which I shall enclose. Poor dear girl, slıç is involved in great difficulties ; but she bears up under them like one who has made the Lord her refuge. I shall every day impatiently expect her. · My kind love to 'my niece, and to Thomas Livingstone and his wife. I am with true respect,
Your sincere friend,
From Miss Eusebia Neville to Mrs. Worthington.
DEAR MADAM, THROUGH the kind providence of God, I have it in my power to say that I am yet on the right side of the walls of a convent, notwithstanding the pains which have been taken by my father and Signior Albino to gain my consent to take the veil, or at least to commence my noviciate. With the divine permission, no entreaties shall induce me to do any thing which I know to be contrary to the will of God.
The conversion of my dear brother from popery to Christianity is a great mercy to me as well as to him. I have all the happiness in his conversation that I could wish. It is a support provided for me by my heavenly Father when I most needed it.
We went yesterday to see the Abbey of St. Bertin. It is what some would call a noble structure ; but if its value were estimated by its usefulness, a very little money would purchase it. It was about eleven o'clock in the forenoon. We found the monks at matins, or morning prayers, if the repetition of a form of words in concert, with a loud noise, and no apparent devotion, can be so called. After we had staid a little while to see this mock-worship, our guide took us into the vestry, and showed us such quantities of rich vestments as amazed me. They were flowered with gold and silver, in a very curious manner, and with the utmost profusion. We see by this, and by every other kind of magnificence which abounds in their churches, how offensive the cross of Christ, and his poverty, are to the natural man. We were next shown the sacristy. A large pair of folding doors being opened, we beheld a quantity of useless wealth, which it would require a volume to describe. In general, it consisted of a collection of relics, in cases of gold ornamented with jewels, together with a great number of vessels of the same metal. The gigantic silver candlesticks, among so much other wealth, appeared but like common things. I was sorry to see my dear father and Signior Albino take so much notice of these vanities, which, as well as every thing else that these spiritual merchants have gained by trafficking in the souls of men, are doomed by the righteous judgment of God to come to nought. When my poor sister intended greatly to offend me, she used to tell me of the barns in which the heretics held their religious assemblies. But I perceive no impropriety in worshipping him in a barn, who made his public entry into his dominions in a stable. I do not like these poor, these pitiful things. Upon what baubles do we set our affections before we are possessed of the true riches !
After dinner, my father asked me how I liked the Abbey of St. Bertin. Not at all, Sir, replied I; such great wealth and splendour ill become the followers of him who had not where to lay his head.
You seem determined, young lady, said father Albino, to find fault with every thing belonging to our holy religion: otherwise you might discern, that these noble structures, costly jewels, and splendid vestments, were intended by the donors to do honour to him who is Lord of lords and King of kings.
Whatever might be the motives, Sir, answered I, of those who gave away their wealth for such vain and ostentatjous purposes, since they did not do it in obedience to the command of Christ, they will not receive a reward.
Why, child, cried my father, the tabernacle of Moses, and the temple of Solomon, which were appropriated to divine worship, were as expensive and magnificent as they possibly could be made. By analogy, therefore, Christian temples ought to be as sumptuous as the circumstances of the worshippers will permit.
The tabernacle and the temple, Sir, replied I, together with the whole Jewish economy, were shadows of good things to come. Those places were honoured with the sensible presence of Jehovah; and were intended to pre-, figure the tabernacling of the Son of God here below, in the sinless body and soul which were prepared for his reception. But the best temple now is the body and soul of a Christian, which God sanctifies to be the place of his residence. Wherever a few believers are assembled in the name of Christ, he is present among them; and the place they meet in, whether a barn or a stable, an upper or a lower room, is better ornamented in God's esteem than the abbey, we have now been surveying.
The jaundiced eye, cried father Albino, sees every thing yellow; and with a similar disease is that mind affected, which is prejudiced against the good ways of God by having drank of the foul and muddy, streams of heresy. How could it be possible otherwise for you to prefer a barn or a stable, for the worship of God, to a solemn and stately temple? Pray, Mr. Wm. Neville, did you ever hear or read of any person that was so obstinately bent upon his own destruction as this poor deluded girl?
Father, replied he, I beg you will excuse me. I must again declare that I am determined to take no part in this controversy, because I feel myself unequal to the task you would impose upon me. If you
honoured parent cannot silence the objections of my dear sister, how can I expect to succeed?
My father commended my brother for his wisdom and prudence; and observed, that young people, when they met with an heretical argument which they could not answer, were apt to conclude, though not very modestly, that it was unanswerable. With regard to you, my child, it had been happy for you and me too if you had never been born.
Ah, my dear friend, said father Albino, this young lady is a fearful monument of the just displeasure of God, manifested against those who give ear to lying vanities, or who in any measure depart from the faith once delivered to the saints. The .common observation, that the best