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I must reserve Mr. Bethune's answer for
my concluding letter, and sincerely subscribe myself,
“ My father was a descendant from a younger branch of the family of the duke of Sully. Having lost my parents at the age of twenty, I sold a small paternal estate in the neighbourhood of Cassel, and determined to seek my fortune in America. My forefathers, notwithstanding much persecution, having adhered to the faith of their ancestors, I also retained the name of a protestant, but without any real religion. llaving long determined to leave my native country, I had prepared for it by making myself master of the English language, in the course of which I read many English books, written by persons calling themselves Unitarians. These greatly delighted me ; and I became a convert to their sentiments.
“ Having deposited my property in the hands of a banker, I embarked for Quebec, and after a passage of seven weeks, landed in a country, where the works of God are sublime and magnificent; where there are forests the bounds of which have never been traced, and rivers that have the appearance of seas. I did not dislike Canada ; yet, having an inclination to live under the English government, I went, in the middle of summer, with several companions, to New-York. I found the country more pleasant and fruitful, the further I advanced toward the south. T'he situation of New-York pleased me very much. It is, I believe, as well situated for water carriage as any
place in the world. That city, however, was not appointed by him who settles the bounds of our habitation, to be the place of my residence.
“ I was now determined to visit Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire ; and I believe I should have done so, had I not been arrested in the way by this lady, (pointing to Mrs. Bethune.)
“ In my road from New-York to Boston, I stopped a few days at New-London, which is about seven miles from this place. On such occasions it was my custom to make excursions into the adjacent country, a place to settle in being kept constantly in view. Being obliged by the scantiness of my patrimony to practise economy, I travelled on foot, and had been walking some hours, and viewing the little townships which are scattered over this delightful country, when, having lost my way, I wandered a consi. derable time without seeing a house, or any person from wliom I could gain information. I followed the path I was in, till I arrived at a hamlet consisting of a few scattered houses. Stopping at one which had the best appearance, a gentleinan came to the door about 'sixty years of age, tall, and rather thin, but with a most amiable countenance. As soon as he knew my situation, he desired me to walk in. It is very improper, Sir, said he, that you, who are a stranger, should attempt, at the close of the day, to find a road which at best is but intricate. I accepted his friendly invitation to stay all night in his humble dwelling, as he pleased to call the comfortable and
house wherein I now reside. After taking some refreshment, I sat down with him and this lacly, (looking at Mrs. Bethune,) and briefly narrated my history, and that of my family, to the time of my calling at his friendly mansion, and also mentioned my intention of purchasing an estate when I had found one to my mind. He told me in return that his name was Woodbridge, and that his grandfather had left England in the reign of Charles the second, that he might enjoy the liberty of worshipping God in the wilderness of America, as this country might then be properly
called ; that many branches of his family resided in differ. ent parts of the continent ; that the providence of God had preserved him in the place where he then lived, almost forty years ; that he had been enabled to settle four sons on estates which he had bought for them ; and that having lost his wife, he and his daughter, the only child he had, unmarried, resided together.-But, my friend, said he, you will pardon me if I observe to you, that not. withstanding your family were protestants, yet, in relating the many difficulties which you have encountered, and the deliverances you have met with, you have not once as. cribed
any of the mercies which you have received to that divine providence which guards us on every side.
“ Conscious of the justice of this kind rebuke, I blushed, and had no power to speak.
“ Sir, continued he, I do not wish to offend you : but, as you are young, and have no tender parent to counsel you, it is my desire to supply the place of such a friend.
“ I began to take courage, and ingenuously confessed, that my thoughts had hitherto been too little employed about religion, but said that I would thankfully attend to any thing which he might advance on the subject, being convinced that he could have no other object in view than my good.
“ Young gentleman, replied he, I thank you : it would indeed highly gratify me to render you service. You are conscious, continued he, of your existence. You know that you are a rational creature, and that you are far exalte«l, in the scale of being, above the elements and animals which surround you.
You find yourself in possession of an ability to contemplate, measure, examine, and compare the natures and properties of almost every thing which you behold. Now it is evident, that all these excellent properties did not meet in one creature by chance, but that they flow from admirable wisdom, contrivance, and design; and it is equally evident, that He who conferred on one part of the creation these peculiar excellences, intended that some valuable purpose should be answered by them. We were not sent into the
world merely to eat, to drink, and to sleep. He who has given us a power of regarding his works with pleasure, and his providential care with gratitude, has undoubtedly intended us to be his humble companions, when we shall have learned to think properly of him and of ourselves. In the present state, the human race resemble a magnifi. cent structure in ruins. If we are wise, we are also foolish; if we are strong, we are also weak. But our moral imperfections are much greater than our natural. Selfishness is, by nature, the spring of all our actions. It does not merely show. itself in pride, vanity, self-dependence, covetousness, envy, hatred, murder, and all those vices which are odious in the sight of men, but can also assume the appearance of humility, candour, self abasement, liberality, contentment, love, and universal beneficence.
“ And pray, Sir, said I, what would the world be without these virtues?
« Without them, replied he, or without the appearance of them, it would resemble a desert filled with beasts of prey. From whatever motive actions flow, which conduce to the happiness of mankind, they who perform them deserve the gratitude and esteem of society. But those whom the Parent of the universe honours with his friendship here, and will reward with endless felicity hereafter, are influenced by a nobler motive than what I have mentioned. Not that I think it either possible or desirable to devest ourselves of self-love: it rather is to be wished, that that passion should be in subordination to a more exalted principle. This principle they only possess, who are so wise as to make this book (taking up a bible) their bosom friend. It is with propriety called the word of God. Here he speaks to the children of men. Here the original and the present state of man are displayed, and the divine character is revealed. If, Sir, you know yourself, you must have acquired your knowledge from this book : nor is there any true knowledge of God but what is drawn from the same fountain. And unless you are by some means brought to think nearly in the same manner with the divine Bea ing, you will never dwell in his presence,
« I was struck with the solemn manner in which he spoke these words. My dear Sir, exclaimed I, what would you advise me to do?
“ Take this book, replied he. Esteem and keep it for my sake; but much more for your own; and most of all from a regard to him who has put such an invaluable treasure into the hands of his creatures. Read it, and meditate on it, every day of your life. It will afford you matter for prayer and praise in your closet. If you value it as you ought, it will make you thankful for your existence ; it will make you a blessing to your family, and to the world; it will be an antidote against the fascinating smiles of prosperity, and the stings of adversity ; it will give you true felicity, by causing you to love the Author of your being : and it will make you consider death as your friend, by giving you a pleasing view beyond the grave.
“ These things, and many others which this good man said, had a wonderful effect on my mind; and a sense of the love of God in the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ made an abiding impression on my heart.
“ In a few days I departed with considerable regret. Having visited Boston, and many of the principal towns in Massachusetts, I returned. When Mr. Woodbridge was satisfied that his good instructions had not been without effect, he consented to present me with this lady, for which favour I had before solicited him in vain. When we had lived together happily about thirty years, my family who had heard me talk a great deal about France, became anxious to see the place of my nativity ; and, as almost every person has a desire to revisit the haunts of his childhood and youth, I did not oppose their inclination. We went by the way of London to Dunkirk, and after seeing many parts of France, took up our residence at Cassel, where I was born, and where I had the happiness to meet with your brother. But the alarming state of public affairs made us anxious to return to this country. A worthy friend of mine, who lives about two miles distant, bought my estate when I went to France, and was so kind, when I returned, as to let me have it again for the price that he gave me for its''.