« AnteriorContinuar »
From Miss Eusebia Neville to Mrs. Worthington.
I HAVE given you an account of my conversation with my father and sister. Since that time my father has gone to London, and I do not expect him to return in less time than eight or ten days. When he left me, he said with a determined tone, Eusebia, remember that, although I may bear
this venerable man (looking toward father Albino) to be your spiritual director: and observe, I shall expect to see you reconciled to our holy church at my return; otherwise, take notice, it will be at your peril.
My dear father, replied I, to make you happy, I could willingly lay down my life. Then, falling on my knees, and taking hold of one of his hands, I earnestly besought him not to desire my everlasting destruction.
Destruction ? cried he, lifting me up; God forbid ! If it were not that I earnestly desire your everlasting happiness above every other consideration, I should not give myself this trouble. Let common sense judge, whether all the learned doctors of our church, and father Albino, not to mention niyself, are not likely to understand things better than you who are a child ? Let every one move in his proper sphere. I: is your duty and mine to believe implicitly as we are taught by our superiors : in acting thus we shall be safe. If we were to believe nothing but what is agreeable to our weak capacities, every one would have a creed of his own. What would then become of uniformity ; and how could Christians be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment! .
Indeed, Sir, replied I, what you have said is not unanswerable.
I will hear nothing, said he, in behalf of heresy. If you have any scruples, mention them to father Albino or your sister : but when they have answered your doubts, that ought to suffice...
My father left me very unkindly. He bade me farewell coldly, without embracing me. I had not been used to such treatment. I went up to my closet and entreated the interposition of the Almighty
I know in some measure whence this unkind usage proceeds. Father Albino is what may be called a very friendly, kind man, where religion is not concerned, and has a real esteem for our family; but my being a heretic is an offence not to be forgiven. One of our maids, who, I believe, really sympathizes with me in my distress, tells me that she repeatedly heard him say to my father, that if fair means would not do, severity ought to be used. How far God may permit them to carry that severity, is known only to hini, but I am well persuaded, that even the wrath of man shall be so overruled by his providence as to contribute to his glory, and that the remainder of it he by his almighty power will restrain. O my dear friend, how happy should we be, if we always lived in the enjoyment of a perfect as. surance that our God is the sovereign of the universe; that every creature, animate and inanimate, is obedient to his will; and that his worst enemies have always, though un. intentionally, promoted his gracious designs of mercy to his people.
This morning I received a letter which surprised me, from Mr. Charles Clifford. He endeavours to deter me from returning to the church of Rome, of which he has drawn a frightful picture, but I believe a tolerable likeness.
I have great hope that the conversation I had with him at Mr. Barnwell's has been a mean of convincing him of the truth. Time only can discover whether the seed is sown on good ground, or only by the way-side, or among thorns. He seems fearful lest he should be left to return to his former deism, which is a good sign. We cannot trust in ourselves too little."
I was in my study when it came. My sister, therefore, took it in, and she and father Albino brought it up to me. My child, cried the father, a letter is come by the post, directed for you ; but your father charged me to let you receive no heretical letters, unless I saw them, in order that I might, by my counsel, prevent any evil impressions.
Sir, said I, it is in your possession, and you are welcome to keep it, as I am at a loss to know who should write to me.
O no, he said, he only desired to see it after I had read it. This I promised : but we often desire things to our hurt. When you have read it, Madam, you will not wonder that the contents enraged both him and my sister. This Clifford was the vilest heretic in the world, and de. served to be burned.at a stake ; and I ought to keep him company.
Indeed, my dear sister, cried I, you are opposing God. The apostles did not teach the religion of Jesus in this manner. * You do not consider, said father Albino, that they had no power to enforce obedience to the laws of Christ till the time of the blessed emperor Constantine, when the alliance took place between the church and the state. .
That alliance, father, replied I, was injurious to the
practice, if there had been no religious establishment, but not in so great a degree as those have done, who, armed with the civil power, have turned the noblest panacea into a poison, and the greatest blessing into a curse.
I am of a different opinion, said he ; and experience proves, that Christianity has never flourished where it has not been enforced by the sword of the magistrate. I intreat you, my dear child, to return to the bosom of the church. We wish to treat you in the tenderest manner. The church of Rome has never used severity until every other method has been tried without success. I find you have been reading that arch-heretic Fox. I appeal to yourself, whether the greatest lenity was not used toward
those stubborn apostates. If they would have renounced their heresies, even after they were fastened to the stake,
true. Besides, very few comparatively were put to the torture in England. In France, and other parts of Chris. tendom, heretics were not treated with such lenity; and we see the happy effects.
My dear Sir, replied 1, it gives me concern to see you and my sister bent upon your own destruction. Pray consider, that it was foretold in the Revelation, that an antichristian church would arise in the world under the Christian name, and that he who presided in it would usurp the divine authority, and act as if he were God. This church is represented as riding upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy: and to pass by many other of her characters, such as her riches, pride, and abominations, she is characterised as bearing a resemblance to ancient Babylon, that terrible scourge to the people of God. The words MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, were written on her forehead. And, lest any one should mistake, she is described as drunken with the blood of the saints, and of the martyrs of Jesus. Now, my dear friends, let me entreat you to inquire whether you are not members of that society, so awfully described in many parts of Scripture, but especially in the 17th and 18th chapters of the Revelation. It is a debt which you owe to yourselves ; for if you should neglect my advice, and perish with that miserable company, it will be but a small alleviation of your misery to say, that you could never have thought it.
Poor wretch! cried my sister, dost thou imagine that thou canst instruct father Albino ?
My dear child, said he, we have charitably endeavoured to instruct this poor conceited girl, who, if you will believe her, understands things better than you or I, or indeed tlie greatest doctors in our church. If you had one dram of humility left, (addressing me) you would submit to be instructed by those who are much your superiors in knowledge of every kind..
I held my peace, perceiving that what I said was disregarded. I am not anxious to know how these things will terminate, but commit myself to the protection of my heavenly Parent, who is able to do for me more than I can ask or think.
Miss Barnwell is now with me in my study. She has brought the melancholy news of her father's being married this morning to Miss Pink. As soon as the ceremony was performed, Mr. Barnwell and his wife, and Mr. Pink and his two other daughters, set off on a visit to Mr. Pink's brother, an attorney, who lives about twenty miles distant. My dear Miranda tells me she was asked very coldly to accompany them, which she declined, by telling her father, if he was willing, she would go to Thornton, to which he readily consented. She did not know that my father was from home, and only intended to go to our friend Livingstone's to inquire after me; but my sister accidentally met her as she was entering the village, and good manners supplied the place of affection, and procur. ed me the pleasure of my friend's company.
Miss Barnwell, Madam, has had no heart to write to you lately. She could only make you sorrowful by her complaints. Her father scarcely ever speaks peaceably to her. He tells her he shall never forgive her refusal of Mr. Clifford; that if he should have a young family, he will have very little to give her; and if he had, that he would never bestow it on a presbyterian parson, and no other husband, he supposes, will please her. A continual round of reflections of this kind is her daily portion, which makes her long, she says, to arrive at those happy regions, where God will wipe the tears from the eyes of his people.
I showed my dear friend the letter sent to me by Mr. Clifford, and told her I thought it very unhappy that she had given him such a positive denial, as I entertained favourable hopes of his becoming a Christian. I am not sorry, replied she. I did what was my duty at that time, and in those circumstances. My God has the direction of all events; and I am certain that I shall not be a sufferer