« AnteriorContinuar »
ing had dreadful experience of what Solomon had in view when he said, The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear ?
Mrs. Worthington, walking one day with her niece in the fields, said to her, I form great hopes, my dear Miran. da, that yours will prove a real conversion to God: I say real; for conversion, like other excellent things, has its counterfeits. Many followed Christ, concerning whom we read, that they went back, and walked no more with him. In the parable of the sower, likewise, some are represented as receiving the word with joy, who yet endured but a while. I will not however conceal from you, that they did not understand the word which they pretended to believe. Our Lord himself assigns this as the reason of their apostacy. They manifested their ignorance and unbelief, when their present ease, the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, in a time of trial, outweighed in their judgment the things of eternity. Temptations of this kind, however, are the lot of every Christian, that the trial of our faith may be much more precious than of gold that perisheth.
Nothing, Madam, replied Miss Barnwell, has so much allayed my happiness, as the fear of relapsing into my former unbelief: not even death itself would be half so dreadful.
I am glad to hear it, said Mrs. Worthington; I trust this is that childlike fear, which is implanted in the breasts of all who are born from above, and which is intended by the . Divine Donor to be a preservative in time of danger. Every creature of God has some defence against its enemies. The majestic lion, and the timid hare, are alike provided for by their beneficent Creator : to the one he has given strength and courage; to the other swiftness and fear. As the fear therefore of the hare is its security, so Gud has put his fear into the hearts of his children, that they may not depart from him. The martyrs of Jesus were no fonder of sufferings and death than other mortals. They only chose racks and gibbets, the teeth of wild beasts, and the
burning of their bodies as smaller evils. The favour of God on the one hand, and his just displeasure on the other, outweighed every other consideration.
I pray, said Miranda, that God may number me among his children, and that I may endure to the end.
It is my earnest desire, replied her aunt, that that may be the case. In the meantirie I would have you observe, that the manner of a person's conversion weighs nothing with me. If God in his mercy bring a poor sinner unfeignedly to believe the gospel, because he perceives the finger of God in every line ; if the gospel be to him a precious gospel, and Christ a precious Christ; the manner in which those sentiments are conveyed by the Spirit of God cannot be improper. Some are led to sit at the feet of Jesus by slow and almost imperceptible degrees ; whilst others, like you, are brought to heaven by the gates of hell. Yet the means and the end are the same in both, and only differ in degree; since all who are born from above, understand and approve the Scriptures as they speak of Christ. Salvation by one who was crucified, is no long. cr disregarded, or esteemed as foolishness; but it is accounted by them the power of God, and the wisdom of God. They are renewed in knowledge, after the image of him who created them : they approve of the things which he approves, and late the things which he hates. They take his yoke upon them; and are determined, by his assistance, to make his revealed will, so far as they un. derstand it, the rule of their faith and practice.
O that I may be enabled, said this young lady, to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, through good report, and through evil report! In his favour only there is life. He is the ark of my rest, and unto him I cannot but return; since, like Noah's dove, I can find no place upon earth which is not overflowed by the curse.
Yes, my dear, replied Mrs. Worthington, thorns and thistles, troubles and disappointments, is it bringing forth to all its children ; but to us it is an enemy's country, a. parched wilderness, and a barren desert. Nevertheless,
he who hath delivered us from spiritual Egypt, will guide and guard us on every side; he will cause us to drink of the smitten rock, and to feed upon the true bread which came down from heaven. These things were types or shadows of the superior blessings which God's people were. to enjoy under the gospel dispensation. The Lord of hosts will fight all our battles for us, as he did for the Israelites, and will make us more than conquerors through him that loved us. Let every Christian, therefore, cry out with Moses, If thy presençe g'o not with us, take us not up hence.--I foresee, my dear Miranda, that you will have many difficulties to encounter, but remember, that we can both do and suffer all things through Christ strengthening, us. After the conflict is over, let us join the sweet singer of Israel in songs of praise to him who smote great kings, for his mercy endureth for ever. The world and Satan, like the enemies of the Israelites, will endeavour to obstruct our passage to the heavenly Canaan; and we shall be able to gain a victory over them, only through the same Jehovah, who is the Captain of our salvation. I have long known your father; he not only has no taste for divine things, but he is enmity against them.
I thought, Madam, replied Miss Barnwell, that you had this in view : but God is able to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, as well as the heart of the children to the fathers.
He can do every thing, answered Mrs. Worthington; but in the mean time there will be need of great prudence on your part, as well as of a becoming resolution. You must join the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove. You are not, I trust, the same person you were ; old things are passed away, and all things are become new; yet your father will expect you to behave as you have always done. I don't say that every amusement is inconsistent with Christianity ; but this I say, that every thing is unlawful which we cannot do to the glory of God. Our pleasures, as well as every other thing we ; engage in, we should endeavour to make subservient to
ousands preferred Peasant and hear, for instan
our eternal interest. How innocent, for instance, is this walk, as well 'as pleasant and healthful! How much is it to be preferred to those guilty pleasures, by which thousands are ruining their health and fortunes ! Here every creature of God, animate and inanimate, is teaching some useful lesson to those who are disposed to learn. That poor, despised ass, the poverty of whose owner obliges him to feed by the way-side, on thistles and other Weeds, reminds us of the meck and lowly Son of God, riding upon this animal, and entering triumphantly into Jerusalem amid the acclamations of his followers ; which was a prelude to his entering upon his heavenly inheritance by the ignominious death of the cross. The useful, harmless sheep, whose flesh feeds us, and whose fleece securés us from the cold, puts me in mind of the Saviour of the world, who was led as a sheep to the slaughter ; while the meek and innocent lambs call to my remembrance the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. The noble, well-proportioned horse, I consider as the gift of God, to ease our labour, and to bear part of our curse. The cow I behold with pleasure and igratitude. When I meet those useful creatures in an evening returning to their owners, their breath sweet as the Tose, and their udders distended with balmy nectar, I viei them as one of the kindest gifts of Providence; since here the poor have provided for them a cheap, salubrious, and delicious repast: a repast, how infinitely superior to costly dainties, contrived with a view to 'gratify a depraved appetite; in which gratification too often consists the sad pre-eminence of riches. Wherever we are, we cannot look around us without perceiving the goodness and mu. nificence of the great Creator; of that immense Being, who is good to all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works. Those little birds, though they have neither storehouse nor barn, are liberally provided for by an unseen hand. One would be almost tempted to think that they were sensible of the goodness of him who feeds them, and that they were warbling' songs of praise. At least, they teach us, my dear, to bless that God, who hithin .erto has helped us, and who is the author of all our mercies. The trees, also, the succulent herbage, and the hills and vallies standing thick with corn, proclaim that every creature is subject to the will of Jehovah ; otherwise, what is in itself so unlikely to provide food for man and beast as the clods of the valley, the dirt that we trample under our feet? Contemplations like these are not only innocent, but exquisite gratifications: they refresh the spirits, gladden the heart, and leave no sting behind them.
I desire, Madam, said Miss Barnwell, to engage in nothing wherein I cannot pray for and expect the divine blessing. As Jesus is all my salvation, so inay a conform. ity to him be my earnest desire. · It is your reasonable service, my child, replied Mrs. Worthington : nor indeed is there any other medium, by which we can distinguish a real faith from one that is counterfeit or nominal.
Thus did this excellent lady take every opportunity to establish her niece in the great truths of the gospel; and the mind of this young lady, like that of Lydia, was opened and influenced to receive the good seed of the word; so that she soon made a great proficiency in divine knowledge.
Mr. Barnwell kept a noble house, and was visited by the best company, as they would be termed by the world. Bụt his daughter had so far lost her inclination for things of this kind, that she frequently told her aunt there was ng any thing which she dreaded equally to returning home. While she was meditating on the difficulties she had to encounter, her father arrived in town, with an intention to take his passage in the first ship that should sail for Jamaica. The overseer of his estate in that island being dead, his presence was necessary, that he might superintend his affairs.
After waiting in London about a week, he embarked in a vessel, the captain of which was bis intimate friend. This