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From Miss Barnwell to Mrs. Worthingion:
DEAR MADAM, I
STILL continue with Miss Neville. We expect a letter from you every post, containing news from our dear Eusebia, and in the meantime console ourselves with the consideration that she is under the protection of an almiglity Guardian
About five o'clock this evening, as we were sitting in the court, Mr. Clifford rode by in his way to his own house. He stopped to tell me that he had received a letter from Ireland from his son, whose return to Poplar Grange he expects every day. We invited him to tea. In the course of the conversation, he told us that the ietters he received from him were full of religion, which, cried he, is thrown away upon me. This produced the following conversation.
Mir. Is it because you really think that if you were a believer, you would be unhappy, that you so obstinately resist the evidences of Christianity?
Mr. C. Undoubtedly. Pray what should I gain by its being true?
Mir. Nothing, Sir, if you were to live and die in unbelief. But permit me to assert, that if you were to believe it, you would be a great gainer. Mr. C. I think you cannot defend
assertion. Suppose I were to believe this moment every thing written by the apostles, I should immediately become a miserable creature.
Mir. I must beg leave to deny this. And I challenge you, Sir, to lay your finger upon any one proposition in the New Testament, and to prove that the belief of it would make
miserable. Mr. C. It is every where declared that the wicked will be
damned. I know that I am a wicked man. Can you persuade me that to believe I shall be damned would make me happy?
Mir. If, Sir, you were to believe that the threatenings of the gospel will be executed, what effect would it have up
? Mr. C. I say again, it would make me miserable. Mir. And what do miserable people do?
Mr. C. They try to get rid of their misery. But the Christian religion does not encourage men to try to save themselves. Heaven is not to be purchased by good works,
Mir. It is true. Go then to the Almighty Parent of the universe for mercy. Implore the pardon of your sins for the sake of Jesus Christ, and your suit will not be rejected.
Mr. C. Alas, Miss Barnwell, it is a vain attempt to endeavour to cleanse this Augean stable. Answer this question, Was the reputed son of the carpenter the Creator of the world?
Mir. I believe he was.
Mr. C. Well done, girl, that is honest. I hate those who defend the religion of Jesus by asserting that the deity of the Messiah, and the doctrine of the atonement, are no parts of it. Do you think they believe themselves what they endeavour to impose upon others ? Not a tittie, not a tittle of it, I assure you.
Mir. I cannot say that, Sir. They undoubtedly are but partial believers.
Mr. C. I am too honest to become a Christian upon those terms. If Jesus did not assert his divinity, and if his death is not maintained to be an atonement for the sins of his followers, there is no meaning in language. He was condemned and crucified for blasphemy. If his enemies had misunderstood him, would not his disciples have declared after his death that he laid no claim to deity? I require that you show the reasonableness of the divinity of Jesus.
How could that Being who fills the universe become a man, and be brought up to a trade ? Indeed, how can he become the object of sight, who being every where, is necessarily invisible.
Mir. You appear to allow that there is a great Being who created the world ?
Mr. C. I cannot doubt it. Wonderful contrivance is displayed in every thing which I behold.
Mir. I am glad you believe the existence of a God. I further ask, Wherein does man eminently differ from the brute creation ?
Mr. C. In his ability to contemplate and admire the works of God, and to reverence their Almighty but invisible Author.
Mir. Is it not probable that a part of the rational creatson will be the companions of that God whose works they now contemplate and admire, and whom they now reverence and love ?
Mr. C. Companions, my friend ? God is every where, and beholds his creatures ; but his creatures cannot see him.
Mir. Cannot God visibly manifest himself to them ?
Mr. C. Such a manifestation would not display a thousandth part of his perfections.
Mir. I do not ask whether creatures can comprehend their Creator, but whether he can visibly appear to them?
Mr. C. Suppose I grant it.
Mir. If you grant it, you cannot tax with absurdity the appearance of God as a man, a poor man, anda carpenter. The great possessions of the rich, and the martial robes of the warrior, attract the notice of the giddy throng; but every thing is valued by the sovereign of the universe according to its moral excellence.
Mr. C. All the world shall never persuade me that there are three Gods.
Mir. I shall not attempt to do it.
Mr. C. But does not Athanasius in his creed declare that there are three Gods ?
Mir. He tells us that the Father is God, that the Son is
God, and that the holy Spirit is God; yet that there are 'not three Gods, but one God. This is equal to saying, that the one Jehovah is both the Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit. Every Athanasian maintains this; and you, Sir, have acknowledged the possibility of it.
To this Mr. Clifford could only reply by saying that I argued tolerably well, but that I had chosen a very im. proper subject to work upon. I told him the greater was his misfortune ; but that I would pray for him, for which he thanked me.
He has been at the Hall since I left it, and he tells me that my father and mother live very much at variance. They quarrelled before him about what she had lost at play, and about debts that he had paid which were coritracted before her marriage.
Miss Neville unites with me in the best wishes for your happiness,
I am, dear Madam,
From Mrs. Worthington to Miss Neville.
DEAR MISS NEVILLE, I RECEIVED your letter and that of my niece. My 1 delay in writing proceeded from the hope that I should be able to give you the happy intelligence of the arrival of your sister, from whom however I have not at present heard.
I rejoice that the great truths of the gospel are not offensive to you ; but it gives me still greater pleasure that
you approve and embrace them. I learn by my niece's letter that you have had Mr.
Clifford with you. Poor man, he has long been enlisted under the banner of infidelity. We may perceive by the conversation he has had with my niece, how little it is that infidels have to say in defence of their rejection of divine revelation. Those truths which in his view are the most unreasonable and absurd, such as the dreadful threatenings to sinners, and the divinity of our dear Redeemer, she has shown to be as agreeable to right reason as they are to the Scriptures. Infidels talk of the absurdity of God's dwelling with men. Yet much of the heathen mythology is, I am persuaded, nothing but this truth in ruins. God's visiting the patriarchs seems to give but little uneasiness to unbelievers, whether Jews or Gentiles. To what can we attribute this, except that there was not that visible poverty in those appearances of the divine Majesty under the Old Testament which there is under the New.
You desire me to give you a description of a true Christian. It may not be improper previously to observe, that unregenerate persons may possess partially, and for a time, many of the marks of a servant of God. It is not improbable that our heavenly Father, who is wise in counsel, has left instances of those who have been almost Christians, that we may watch over ourselves and each other with a holy jealousy, and never think of laying down our arms, and making peace with our internal enemies, which he has determined that we shall expel under the conduct of the Captain of our salvation.
A Christian is one whose ears God has opened to hearken to his voice; whose understanding he has enlightened by his Spirit to discern the divine glory shining in the character of the despised Jesus of Nazareth ; and who is convinced that the righteousness of the Redeemer is the only robe in which he can appear before God. Though a person should hold a number of error's, which to you or me may appear inconsistent with this fundamental truth ; yet if this truth be held fast, his spot is but the spot of God's children. The plague of leprosy has affected nothing but the skin ; the vitals are not touched : therefore the high