« AnteriorContinuar »
is. convinced the arguments against the catholic religion, merely as a national religion, are conclusive. But, added he, as it is not in this country the national religion, we have nothing to do but to leave out every thing, both in doctrine and in ceremonies, which has been added by the caprice of men, and which has no clear foundation in the word of God.
And this, in fact, said Mr. Neville, will be doing nothing more than many sensible and pious catholics have supposed ought to be done. They despaired of its ever being done, because they thought it must be the work of such a multitude of persons, erroneously taking it for granted that a part could not be reformed without the whole. But surely it is right for us to do what we ought, let others do what they may.
We all cried out that we were willing to be catholics upon this condition. It was agreed, therefore, that till we should have an opportunity of closely examining the New Testament, our worship in public, in the family, and in private, should be as simple as possible; and that we would rather be obliged to add what we might perceive to be ne. cessary, than be forced to lop off luxuriances.
Mr. Neville desired that so good a work might be begun that evening, asking the opinion of his son in what manner it should be conducted.
I think, Sir, answered he, it would not be improper to read two or three chapters out of the Old and New Testament, and to conclude with prayer. This was the practice of a friend of mine in France.
Should the prayer be with a form, or without one ? said father Albino.
Without one, Sir, in my opinion, answered Mr. William Neville ; for we have many accounts in the word of God of prayer without a form, but not one instance of praying with one.
This was acknowledged by all ; and my dear friend, at his father's request, began with reading the first chapter of Genesis, and the first and second chapters of Matthew, intending to go through the whole in order. He concluded with a short, but solemn and pathetic prayer, in which he blessed God for opening our blind eyes, unstopping our deaf ears, and bringing us out of darkness into his marvellous light; and prayed that he would perfect-the mercy begun, and that he would give us his Spirit to lead us into all truth. He acknowledged our sins, and implored mercy in the name of Jesus Christ. And he finished with praying for all the subjects of Christ's kingdom, and for its enlargement ; for our friends and enemies; and for the nation and its rulers. Father Albino and Mr. Neville ac. knowledged, that they were persuaded that all ostentatious additions made by men to this unornamented worship, were as unnecessary as lighting candles to assist the sun ; and they blessed God for making them perceive the folly and wickedness of human inventions intended to make the religion of Jesus more perfect. . .
You will be glad to hear, Madam, that Mr. Neville has made our friend Thomas Livingstone his bailiff, and also that, as the housekeeper is on the point of marrying, Mrs. Livingstone will have the offer of the place, for which she is well qualified, as Thomas married her out of a gentle man's family. Mr. Neville told me, that as they were friends to his daughter, he was determined to be a friend to them. But, added he with tears, much more so because they are the friends of the Redeemer.
The mercy which God has shown to Miss Neville and her friends has had no small share in lessening her disor. der, which was a good deal nervous. She is so well satisfied, she says, of the safe arrival of her sister in the heavenly Canaan, that her grief on account of her death is mixed with joy.
All my friends, when they know I am writing, desire their love to you. Mr. Neville and father Albino have spoken of you lately with great esteem, I can only add that I shall ever continue, i Dear Madam, Your most affectionate niece,
From Mrs. Worthington to Mr. William Neville.
MY DEAR SIR,
THE company of Mr. and Mrs. Barnwell indisposed me for writing, or I should have acknowledged by the first post the receipt of your obliging letter. The great respect shown by your friends to my niece demands my best thanks; and I hope the high regard you have 'manifested for her, will be repaid by the tenderest affection, the most cheerful submission, and a prudent economy ; and then you will have the less reason to regret that you did not marry a wife with a fortune equivalent to your own. I lately heard a gentleman say, that he could not afford to marry a wife with a fortunę. For, said he, custom and education teach the ladies before marriage, to consider wealth as the one thing needful; and after marriage, wlien they are freed from the restraint of their parents, elegant houses, superb carriages, and an imitation of genteel peaple, are what the husband must indulge them in, or he must seek that happiness abroad which he will in vain seek for at home. If I thought my niece were not in disposition the very reverse of such young persons, I could not wish her to be the wife of Mr. William Neyille.
Mr. Charles Clifford called yesterday morning to see me, or rather to inquire whether I had heard any thing more concerning our dear Eusebia. He was just come from Ireland when the news arrived of her shipwreck, and, being overcome with grief, he and his man immediately took horse, and visited all the towns upon the coast, both in England and France, hoping to hear something of her; but in vain. He then went to St. Omer's, where he found several persons who were acquainted with you, but could not gain any intelligence concerning your sister. He was there at the time the Bastilę was destroyed, and would have visited Paris at that eventful period, if his grief for
the loss of your sister had not swallowed up every other consideration.
Mr. Clifford has recommended himself to my esteem, both by his great affection for your sister, and by the unaffected piety that adorns his conversation. Yesterday in the afternoon at tea, after we lrad been discoursing of his being confuted by Eusebia, () Madam, cried he, it is not a desirable thing to be a deist or an atheist; such persons are of all men the most miserable.
True, Sir, replied I; and there is no important difference between deism and atheism, the god of the deist being an unknown god, which is no god at all. Had you no thoughts of religion, Sir, continued I, before your conver. sation with Miss Eusebia Neville and my niece? .
Yes, Madam, answered he, I had. My mother, who was a pious woman, had endeavoured to store my infantile mind with divine knowledge, in consequence of which my conscience many times severely reproved me upon the commission of sin, and the neglect of prayer. Her death, which happened in my tenth year, was a great misfortune to me. When I came from school, I had no one to counsel me respecting religious duties, and I became more and more remiss, and at last totally regardless of them. At Oxford, however, providence so ordered it that I became acquainted with a very religious youth, by whose entreaty and example I was induced to enter upon a new course of life. I resolved to sin no more against God; to watch over my thoughts, words, and actions; and to be constant in my attendance upon divine worship, and in private prayer. Many, very many failures, exceedingly discouraged me. I again became remiss ; after a while I consorted with those who had no religion; and at last was the forea, most among those who derided it.
I doubt not, Sir, said I, but there were many steps before you entirely cast off the fear of God, and sat in the seat
So many, Madam, replied he, that time would fail me to - pelate one half of the gradations by which I arrived at athe
ism. Yet I am obliged to acknowledge, that in all the different stages I trusted in my own righteousness, and was as ignorant of the design of Christ's coming into the world as a savage of the desert. I first added Arianism to Arminianism, in consequence of my falling into the company of one of that persuasion. That the Messiah was a demi-god, or secondary Jehovah, did not shock my reason so much as his true and proper deity. I also found, that both the ancients and moderns, who maintained that doctrine, varied in their ideas concerning it.
So you gave up, Sir, said I, the scriptural doctrine of the deity of the Messiah, because the defenders of it are not perfectly agreed how the Father, Son, and holy Spirit, are the one Jehovah. But you might have considered, that notwithstanding the eternity of God is an indubitable truth, yet a comprehension of the nature of existence from eternity cannot be attained either by angels or by men. Many things are clearly revealed, for which we can assign either no reason at all, or at best, reasons that are unsatisfactory. Wherefore did not God prevent sin from entering into the new creation ? And why did he bring Cain, Judas, and many others into existence, when he knew that it would be infinitely to their disadvantage? Yet shall we de. ny these certain things, because we cannot reconcile them with the goodness, mercy, and compassion of God, which are equally certain ? Is it right to suppose, because our Creator has given us minds and abilities wonderfully capacious, that they are infinite ? and yet they must be infinite, to comprehend him who is infinite. When God visited his creatures, it was to be expected that questions would be proposed by inquisitive mortals relative to so wonderful an affair, which an angel could not answer. But how long, Sir, did you continue in this rational religion ?
I soon became acquainted, replied hc, with several Socinian gentlemen, who undid all that my Arian friends had been doing. They endeavoured to prove, that Jesus was nothing more than a prophet commissioned by God to instruct mankind, and that he died a martyr to the truth of