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Father Albino attempted to bleed me, but in vain. He gave it as his opinion that I was dead. My dear parent shed floods of tears, and declared that he could not survive me.
The first thing I can remember is, that I looked up, and saw a number of people about me, some holding a bottle to my nose, and others rubbing me. I could not imagine at first where I was, or what had been the matter. The first face I noticed was that of my dear father, bathed in tears. I put out my hand, and took hold of one of his, and with both mine pressed it to my lips. () Madam, there never was such a father! My dear child, cried he, how happy am I to see thee alive : all, I trust, will yet be well. I beg, Sir, said father Albino, you will not mention a word: O my dear father, said I, still pressing his hand to my lips, may God bless you, and my dear sister, (I saw her weeping,) and my dear brother: then should I die in peace. Father Albino desired I would not talk. I again found myself very ill, and requested to go to bed. There, instead of sleeping, I reflected on the divine goodness, which had hitherto preserved me. I thanked God that it was known by my friends that I was a protestant, and earnestly prayed that I might not be ashamed of him or of his cause. I also recollected, that, in Rev. xxi. 8, the fearful are numbered with the unbelieving, the abominable, and murderers. And certainly, to fear man, who can only kill the body, more than God, is a proof of unregeneracy.
While I was thus meditating, I heard somebody approach softly toward my bed. I looked up, and saw my sister. She kindly asked whether I found myself better. I told her I was a little revived. O my dear Eusebia, said she, what have you done? You have made the happiest family in the world the most unhappy.
My dear Maria, answered I, my fellow-mortals may con. demn me; but my God will justify me.
What then, cried she, hastily, is it not true that you are a beretic ?
I acknowledge, replied I, in the words of the Apostle Paul, that after the way which you call heresy, so worship 1, if not the God of my fathers, yet the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And do you not remember, said she, what we have often declared to our dear father, that if we should ever become heretics, we desired no favour? Have we not assured him, that we should consider our guilt to be as great as that of Cain, and that we should expect an equal punishment?
I can only say, my dear sister, replied 1, that it is a vain thing for worms like us to say what they will do, or what they will be. I then spake sincerely : and I should have acted very imprudently, when I embraced my present sentiments, if i had not been prepared to suffer, as well as to do the whole will of God.
So then, cried she tauntingly, it seems you are determined to go on with your show.
I am determined, with God's assistance, answered I, to be obedient to him, so far as I understand his will. But if any person can convince me out of the Scriptures that I err, I trust I shall alway preserve a teachable mind.
The Scriptures! The Scriptures ! forsooth, cried she ; I find you are like all the heretics. And pray who is to judge of the meaning of the Scriptures? Yourself, undoubtedly.
Nay, my dear sister, said I, I would allow you to be judge, if the state of your mind resembled that of the writers of them ; and without that state of mind, no one can be a proper judge.
I thought I heard something move, and turning my head, perceived my dear father standing just within the room. When he was aware that I saw him, he came forward, and said in the kindest manner, How does my dear angel do? I hope she is a little better. I thanked him, holding out my hand to take hold of his. O my dear father, said I, you think me culpable ; and yet you are kind to me : your goodness overcomes me,
He sat down by my bed-side, and, holding my hand, said, I have indeed had too much reason for it : but I know the sweetness of your disposition, my own Eusebia, and ain persuaded that the sense you have always had of your duty to God, to his church, and to your parent, will be more than sufficient to make you return to the true religion. It was a kind providence that your sister found your letters: you might otherwise have continued longer in your wandering from the fold of Christ, and have been thereby hardened in your apostacy. Many sheep have strayed from the right ways of God, and yet been brought back again. Father Albino has wept as if you had been his own child. The tenderness with which he loved you, and with which we all loved you, is inexpressible. The venerable man declares, that his own soul is not dearer to him than the souls of his three children ; but that his Eusebia was the last he should have suspected of falling into heresy.
I desire no favour, Sir, replied I, if I am guilty of heresy. A heretic I humbly conceive, is one who departs from the truth delivered by the holy Spirit through the medium of the apostles and prophets. I cannot be a heretic; for I reject no article of divine truth.
I have not read the letters, said my father, which have passed between you and your friends. But your sister and father Albino, who have read several of them, declare that you are as great a heretic as Luther and Calvin.
That is possible, Sir, replied I; and yet I may be no heretic after all. We ought not to judge according to notions, which we have embraced merely because our ancestors held them ; but we ought to judge righteous judgment. It grieves me to the heart, my dear father, to hear you give that name to persons who stand in the divine presence. To speak against the servants of Jesus, is to speak against him.
My father and sister seemed astonished beyond measure. My child, cried my father, you amaze me. I should as soon believe that Satan and all his angels were in heaven, as those two arch-leretics. Were not those emissaries of the wicked one the means of rending the seamless coat of Christ? And what has been the consequence ? Just what might have been expected. Those who left the holy catholic apostolic church have received the just reward of their iniquity, in the divisions and subdivisions into which they have been crumbling from that time to this. O my love, (taking hold of my hand,) you need only look at the lives of those who are divided from us, in order to know what kind of reformation that of Lu. ther and Calvin was.
I acknowledge, my dear father, replied I, that protes, tants in general appear to be destitute of the fear of God : but that is no proof that all protestants are so. As to their being called by different names, I look upon that to be no evil at all, any more than that the seven churches of Asia were called by different names. It does not follow, because different societies of Christians are unconnected with each other, that therefore the church of God is divided. If Christians adhere to divine truth, though they be scattered in a hundred different countries, they are all one in Christ Jesus : and, on the contrary, if they have departed from it, they are not the churches of Christ, how: ever they may be united.
Churches of Christ, child ? cried my father; there can be but one church of Christ. Does not the spouse in the Canticles say, My dove, my undefiled is but one ? And is not the church this one church, termed by the apostle St. Paul, the pillar anıl ground of the truth? Now if any church except the holy Roman church, can lay claim to these characters, tell me which of the numberless sects and parties it is?
I bless God, and I thank you, Sir, said I, that you will hear your child. In answer to what you have said, I acé knowledge that the church of Christ is one church, and that this church is called the pillar and ground of the truth. It is so called, because every member of it both supports the truth, and is built upon it. But if it be asked, whether
the church of Rome, of England, or of Geneva, is this church, I answer, None of them. If it be further asked, whether any particular congregation of protestant dissenters is this church, I must still answer, No. The one universal church is composed of all the saints who are now in heaven, and of all the friends of Christ who are now on earth, wherever they are scattered, or by whatever name known. To suppose there is a visible church, consisting of a great number of congregations united under one visi. ble head, is the foundation of almost every error in the church of Rome; and no protestant church that follows the church of Rome in this particular, is a church of Christ.
I am amazed at your confidence, Eusebia, cried my father angrily : this is telling me that the church of Rome is not the church of Christ, although she has stood the test of more than seventeen hundred years, while a hundred sects and parties liave risen up, and made a noise for a while, which are now sunk into oblivion. The church of Rome was famous, even in the time of the Apostles : her faith was then spoken of throughout the whole world, as St. Paul himself testified. You deny that the visible church is composed of many congregations under one visible head. But was not this the case with the Jews under Aaron, and the high priests his successors? And was. it not also the same with the churches under the Apostles, and especially under St. Peter, the prince of the Apostles, and his successors the bishops of Rome?
With respect to the Jews, Sir, answered I, they were considered as one church, because in fact they were but one congregation. The high priest was a type of Christ, and is so declared to have been in the epistle to the Hebrews. As he was the head of the Jewish church, so Je. sus Christ is the only head of his church and people, and they are all brethren, and upon a level with each other. If there be any preferment in Christ's church, it runs counter to preferment in the world ; since he who is greatest in his kingdom has, like his divine master, nou