Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

my good, my kind father, cried I, I trust that God win indeed favour us so highly as to cause us to spend an eterni. ty together in his presence. It is my constant prayer that this may be the case. O thou Father of mercies, grant for the sake of thy dear Son, that these my friends may come to me ; for thou knowest I cannot go to them. You must not say so, interrupted father Albino. Your honoured parent has shown that the church of Rome has always been friendly to holiness of life. In proof of the same thing, I may also appeal to the saints, and even to the days set apart to commemorate their bright example, which are intended to help us forward in our Christian course. Pray, my child, look around you, and see if among all your heretical acquaintances, you can find any one whose purse is ever open, like that of your father, to relieve the distresses, and alleviate the miseries of mankind. Moreover, you will not easily find those who spend as much time in their closets in a year, as he does in a day : and in their families they are alike remiss. Whereas you, my child, have been brought up in a family, where prayer without ceasing has been offered to the divine Majesty, both with you and for you; so that your defection from the only true church of Christ is as amazing as it is dreadful. .

Pray, my good father, replied I, hear me patiently. I do indeed grant, that that religion is the most perfect whichi is the best calculated to promote holiness of life ; and I am not to learn, blessed be God; that without personal holiness no man shall see the Lord. Yet I can conceive it to be possible, that a person may give all his goods to feed the poor, and even his body to be burned, and be destitute of love to the true God. I can also easily conceive, that persons may be very diligent in private, domestic, and public worship, while they have only the form of godliness, and are destitute of the power. True religion consists in a knowledge of the true God, and of his Son Jesus Christ; and in being conformed to him through the influence of the holy Spirit, who, to accomplish these desirable ends, takes of the things of Jesus which are revealed in

the Scriptures, and shows them unto us. The children of God are sanctified by the truth, and not by any contrivances of men. With regard to prayer, although he is certainly no Christian who is not habitually breathing out his soul unto God in prayer, yet it would not follow that we were Christians, were we to spend twenty hours out of the fourand-twenty in private, family, and public worship; since, without faith, or a right understanding and belief of divine truth, it is impossible to please God. The Pharisees made long prayers, and were not destitute of a form of godliness; and the Turks in general most conscientiously pray five times a day, and will not neglect the appointed times of prayer, be their business ever so urgent. Zeal may prove a person to be superstitious; but it does not prove him to be holy, unless it be regulated by the oracles of truth.

And pray, my dear child, cried my father, who is most likely to understand the oracles of truth? The fathers, doctors, and learned men of our church, some of whom lived in the days of the apostles ; or you, a mere babe, who indeed are almost literally but of yesterday?

If the Scriptures, Sir, are true, replied I, the chance is in my favour; since they declare that God has hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.

Alas, Sir, cried father Albino, whatever you say, she has an answer at her tongue's end. This is the old road which we have travelled over and over again. Scripture may be brought to prove almost any thing, which shows the necessity of our understanding it as the church does. Here lies the great difference between us and heretics. If you ask a catholic what is the rule of his faith and prac. tice, he will tell you, The Scriptures, as they have been understood by the church in all ages, which church those, very Scriptures declare to be the pillar and ground of the truth. If you ask a heretic what is the rule of his faith, he will also tell you, The Scriptures; but if you further ask him who is to judge of the sense of the Scriptures, he rea' ry modestly replies, himself. When a person is judge in his own cause, it is no marvel if he decides in his own fa. your.

I was going to tell Signior Albino, that the servants of Jesus are both the only true church of Christ, and also the only pillars or supporters of the truth ; but my father stopped me by observing, that the friends of the Redeemer manifest their love to him by obeying, and not by disputing. He therefore earnestly desired me, he said, to weigh these things calmly, and to endeavour to manifest my love to God by my obedience to my parent.

The morning after the above conversation, my father told me, that, as the weather began to be fine, he and father Albino intended to take a journey to St. Omer's, to see my brother; and he earnestly entreated me to accompany him, and to take the veil, either at that city, where there are always a great many English people, or at Catais, if I should like that place better. Father Albino backed this request by observing, that, in the company of the holy sisters, I should soon forget my unhappy prejudices; and that he should expect no less than to hear I was become a saint.

I implored my father, on my knees, not to think of placing me in a nunnery ; for that I would rather be turned out of doors, than be imprisoned for life with persons with whom I could expect no kind of happiness.

Well, my child, cried my father, if you will consent to go with us to see your brother, for whom I know you have the most sincere affection, I give you my word and honour that no method shall be used to make you comply with my request, except entreaty. But I flatter myself, my dear Eusebia, that the piety and persuasion of your dear brother may be the means of your seeing both your duty and your happiness, which are so inseparably connected.

Ah, my dear child, said father Albino, if you should es. cape this dreadful shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, I solemnly vow to go on a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella.

My dear father also vowed, if I was once more merciful. ly brought into the bosom of the church, that he would give to our Lady of Loretto a new robe, and a pair of silver candlesticks of fifty pounds weight.

I could do no less than thank my friends for the concern and zeal they manifested for my welfare : and I promised to go with my father on the conditions he had mentioned ; for I long to see my brother, between whom and myself the mutual affection was so great that one soul seemed to animate us both.

I do not know when we shall set out, but I expect it will be soon ; nor do I know whether my sister will accompany us. I rather wish she may not, as she has greatly persecuted me. Poor girl, the greater is her misfortune. I ought not to think it hard ; for who in their right minds would not rather suffer affliction with the people of God, than enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season?

You may depend upon it, Madam, that I shall embrace every opportunity of writing to you, which my dear Miss Barnwell must consider as writing to her also ; and I hope to have the pleasure of copying another of Mrs. Worthington's letters for the perusal of my brother. I have transcribed in a fair hand the whole of our correspondence; since, as my friends as well as myself will be accused to him of heresy, it is but just he should see wherein our heresy consists. Requesting the prayers of you and my dear Miranda, that God will mercifully preserve me, I once inore subscribe myself,

Dear Madam,
Your affectionate friend, and . .
Humble servant,

EUSEBIA NEVILLE.

LETTER XXVI.

From Mrs. Worthington to Miss Eusebiu Neville.

MY DEAR MISS NEVILLE,

I AM sorry that you are going into a popish country ; but having promised to accompany your father, you cannot retract, especially as he has engaged not to force you into a nunnery. I commend you to the care and guidance of the Shepherd of Israel, who neither slumbers nor sleeps. Cast all your care upon him, my dear friend, for he careth for you.

The argument used by your friends to prove the excellence of the church of Rome, founded upon the holiness of many of its members, is inconclusive. In self-denial and mortifications of almost every kind, the devotees in the most corrupt religions have neither been exceeded nor equalled by catholics or protestants. Many of the Hindoos use such cruelty to their bodies in order to atone for their sins, that the hair-shirts worn by catholics on the same account, together with their whipping themselves, and other austerities, bear scarcely any proportion to it. The priests of Baal also were sincere worshippers of that senseless idol ; witness their crying unto him from morning to evening, and cutting themselves with knives and lancets; and I have no doubt but in their day they had the repute of being very holy men, as well as those idolaters who made their children pass through the fire to Moloch, giving the fruit of their bodies for the sin of their souls.

I believe mortals have never erred more concerning any one thing than concerning holiness. The generality seem to think, that if they are sincere, devout, and what is called moral, they must be holy. But it ought to be consi. dered that devotion may have for its object an idol of the imagination ; an unknown God, who may be ignorantly

« AnteriorContinuar »