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deeply, and exercised a profound piety. They were glad to converse when it happened — which was very seldomthat their father was not present; and I often thought that their countenances expressed sorrow that the subject must be dropped on his entrance. I one day expressed my surprise to them that their father should habitually absent himself from public worship. They replied that it had been so ever since their memory; and that they believed he did it from principle.

"Has he no sense of its importance and value?" said I; "does he feel nothing, think nothing, of the great truths of religion?"

"Alas!” replied the eldest, whose name was Charlotte, "I fear he thinks but too much, and feels too much. I have reason to suppose, although he never speaks of it, that it is this which lies at the bottom of his unhappiness, and that, if this burden could be removed, he would be a cheerful and happy man."

I looked at her for explanation. "Unreflecting men," said she, "may be happy without religious faith; for their habitual thoughtlessness excludes the subject from their minds. But a man who is in habits of reflection, and who cannot keep from his mind the thoughts of the Author of his being, and the great concerns of futurity, must be often wretched without a settled faith."

"It is true, then," said I, "as I have suspected, that your father is not a believer in the Christian religion?"

"It is," she replied; “and to you, who know him, this will account for all his appearance and habits. For how can such a man, who longs and pants for the refuge of its truths, be happy without them? He may have every thing else; but the want of these will leave an aching void, which nothing else can fill. O, what a blessed day it would be to

He has every

us all, which should make him a believer! thing else to render himself and us happy; but for want of this, there is a bitter taste to every enjoyment, and discontent in every scene."

"Is he not aware of the cause of his dissatisfaction?" I asked.

"He is," replied Charlotte, " and yet he is not. That is to say, he acknowledges the power of the Christian faith in others, and I believe is truly happy that we possess it. But he will not allow that it would do any thing for himself. He insists that, in his literary and philosophical pursuits, he has all the satisfaction that the human mind can attain, and that nothing could add to his happiness. But it is very seldom he speaks on the subject. Indeed, he is so strongly prejudiced, that we avoid any allusion to it altogether. For I think he is the more violently positive from the very feeling he has, that there is an essential thing wanting. He tries in this way to stifle his feelings, and to convince himself that he wants nothing."

"I have seen something like this," said I, "in other cases; but I should not suspect it in your father. How is it that he is thus prejudiced?"

It is partly," she answered, "his misfortune, and partly his fault his misfortune, because in early life he was thrown into the midst of fanaticism and bigotry, which disgusted him, and rendered the whole system incredible to him; his fault, because he suffered prejudice to sway him, and did not deliberately institute an inquiry which should separate the false from the true, and show him that the system itself may be true and excellent, notwithstanding the follies of its friends."

"Can you state to me at length," said I, "the circumstances under which these indelible impressions were made?"

Before Charlotte could more than commence a reply to this question, Mr. Garstone came in, and conversation took a different turn. I returned home, deeply interested in what I had heard, and anxious to hear more.

CHAPTER XV.

WHAT I had now heard interested me too much to suffer me to rest until I had learned more. The history of Mr. Garstone I found to be this: He was the son of parents whose religion partook of the character of austerity and superstition. He was educated in the most rigid restraint, and imbued diligently with the dogmas of the Assembly's Catechism. When he had grown to years of understanding, being of a strong mind and peculiarly susceptible feelings, his reflections on the subject of religion became earnest in the extreme, and occupied him day and night. A fear of God, rather dreadful than pleasant, as he expressed it, had always oppressed him, and it now made him miserable. The doctrines which he had learned in childhood he now began to understand and reason upon, and apply to himself. He saw that, if they were true, he was condemned by his birth to an eternal curse, which only the re-creating grace of God could remove. to visit only a chosen few. Should he ever taste this grace? Or was he to be abandoned by the discriminating Spirit of God to his horrible destiny?

And this grace was appointed Was he one of those chosen?

Beneath the agony of heart which this personal application of his creed produced, he struggled long and wretch

edly. His misery, he told me, was indescribable. His life, for months, was a burden of terror and torture. Every thing lost its relish, in the desperate attempt to gain satisfaction and hope, from what appeared to him the sentence of despair a sentence which he was sometimes tempted to pronounce inconsistent with every attribute of justice and goodness. But this temptation he was taught to reject as blasphemous, and a foul instigation of the devil. He strove to smother every feeling of this nature, and, in spite of the clear demonstration, which, the more he reflected, the more strongly was forced upon him, he compelled himself to believe that all this might be so, and God still be just. In this tumult of contradictions, in this struggle of his mind to be reconciled to what he felt to be dreadful, and tried in vain to perceive to be right, two years of misery passed away, and health and cheerfulness passed away with them. Reading, reflection, tears, prayers, were all in vain. The coun

sel of friends was also vain; for his state of mind was a cause of congratulation to them, being, as they supposed, the struggle of the natural man in the throes of the new birth, from which he would come forth regenerate and rejoicing. They rather increased than allayed his perplexity. They rebuked his attempts to reason on the subject, and told him it was vain to hope for satisfaction, except only in that prostrate faith which God would give if he pleased, and when he pleased. They bade him, therefore, wait, and not be guilty of the blasphemy of trying God's ways by the rules of human reason.

He did wait, but to no purpose. He humbled himself, and strove to quell what was called his pride, and to believe the consistency of what appeared to him contradictory, and made it the burden of his prayer, that he might only find peace, and he would willingly sacrifice every other thing.

It was all in vain. No peace came. But, not to prolong the story, the powers of his mind at last triumphed. He found it impossible, after every effort, to attribute to the government of God what he had been taught to attribute to it. He gradually came to the determination that such a system could not be true, and he rejected it, as contradict ing almost every high and holy truth which nature and common sense teach of the great Creator.

I could not help being deeply interested in this history. Unhappy man, thought I, thus driven away from the light and comforts of God's word! How different might have been the result, if he had been blessed with early opportunities like mine! He would have found help in his difficulties, as I did; he would have learned that the gospel. of God's love is not implicated with any of those dogmas, " at which Reason stands aghast, and Faith herself is half confounded;" and he might have received it in its native beauty and uncorrupted lustre,

"Majestic in its own simplicity;"

the ornament, support, guide, and joy of his soul, conducting him tranquilly through life, to an everlasting hope. But of all this he had been deprived. He had come to reject the gospel, from never knowing truly its real character. He had thrown away its peace, from having a counterfeit offered in its stead.

But though he had rid himself of this cause of trouble, he was far from tranquillity. His religious propensities were strong, and his education had been such as to associate ideas of the highest importance with the subject. His reverence for God was deep and habitual, his belief in a future state fixed, and his conviction that God had revealed himself to the world was too deep-rooted to be easily removed. There was a great deal, too, sublime, and beautiful, and

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