Imágenes de páginas

three times a week, and if any thing prevented me from making the usual call, he was one of the most miserable persons in the parish. If any one could be said to like physic, he did : he was never easy but when I was prescribing for him, he wished to try every new medicine, (not actually from a relish for the taste) but from a desire to experience the effects in his own frame. He had that miserable weakness too, which rendered him always afraid of death, and therefore apprehensive of epidemic diseases; at periods when they were prevalent, he would not venture to open a letter until first fumigated, nor stir out beyond the limits of his own garden, sometimes not even into it without having first ascertained that none of the garden labourers had communication with sick people. I myself was always excluded from his presence (by a special arrangement) on the day on which, in my turn of duty, I visited the fever hospital of an adjacent town.

This gentleman never enjoyed the passing hour, and he would alniost as soon have taken a glass of laudanum as a pint of port: he lived by rule in every thing connected with diet and medicine, for example, he took one teaspoon-full and half of cream, exactly in each of the two small cups of tea which he had for breakfast, and an egg boiled for two minutes and three quarters to the second; he took four grains of calomel every Wednesday night, and a seidlitz powder on the following morning precisely a quarter before seven; and at other fixed times digestive and antibilious pills, and draughts, the most harmless that I could compound for him. When the wind was even a point to the eastward in the early spring or winter, he would not stir out of doors, fearing inflammation of the lungs which were as sound as a new drum. On one occasion I hinted to his gardener the expediency of nailing his weathercock for a day or two to the western direction, and this had the immediate effect of setting him on horseback, for no inspector of telegraphs ever kept his eye more steadily on the moving signals of stations in communication with his own, than this strange patient of mine watched the veerings of his weathercock. Before he had returned from his ride, the careful servant had given liberty again to the cock which pointed to the unfavourable point, and nothing could exceed the satisfaction of Mr. Pine, on getting home, just as the wind had changed. He was by no means insane, but what is familiarly termed hippish, and could quickly perceive the peculiarities of other people. He was kind and gentle in his manners, and rarely displeased with his servants, (who were obliged however to be regular as clockwork in their movements) unless any thing was dove likely to give him cold or derange his digestion.

One day I witnessed rather a whimsical illustration of his peculiarity, and ridiculous self-love. Mrs. Pine, his indulgent and affec. tionate wife, had sewed a button for him on his shirt collar, just as he was going out, and in her hurry instead of taking her scissors to cut off the thread from the shank of the button, she used her teeth for the purpose ; poor Mr. Pine on putting his band to close the collar, perceived that a drop of saliva from Mrs. Pine's lips had moistened the circumference of a sixpence on the linen where it touched his skin—will it be credited that this self-tormentor apprehended a soro throat in consequence, and put a bit of flannel dipped in hartshorn and oil, as a preventive, to his neck.

What a contrast in some respects did those two men present. Mr. Flint depending on the continuance of his strength thought not of death at all, or if he did, he looked upon it as so remote as to be unaffected by its contemplation, and placed it in the class of those distant events, as an excuse for the non-consideration of which unwise men falsely apply the maxim, of " sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” Mr. Pine made himself wretched by anticipating evils, and guarding perpetually against maladies with which providence did not design to afflict him. He still lives, and has attained his seventyfirst year. Mr. Flint, who had been his school-fellow, and born in the same year, has been dead for a long time. I shall relate some particulars about him. He was attacked with apoplexy in his fiftyfifth year : I saw bim quickly, bled him, and prescribed the usual remedies; he was as meek and humble as a sick girl for some days afterwards, as long as the fright of the seizure influenced him, and took medicine readily. He spoke to me too a little of his spiritual state, and cried like a child while he dwelt upon one or two of his chief sins, and very seriously told me that he would hunt, if God forgave him this time and prolonged bis life, but twice a week, in order to attend more to his soul; nay, he consented to see the clergyman, who had called at his house that day, (as soon as he was a little stronger, he did not do so however) but I found him next morning endeavouring to attend to a very youthful nephew, wbom he bad kept from school for the purpose, while the boy read a chapter in the Bible. As the uncle unhappily bad no choice, and the nephew no judgment, the portion of Scripture chosen for perusal was most inappropriate. • Well, Doctor,' said be, looking quite pleased with his devotional exercise, ' you see how I have been employed-Johnny, that will do 'till to-morrow-what news? Can you tell me who is the winner of the Great St. Leger; I'm longing to know, and no one has sent me word ?' Alas! poor Mr. Flint! his ruling passion never left him. .

He rapidly amended, whilst his disposition to weep over bis offences entirely left him, and his good resolutions departed also : the Bible was closed, and no avenue open to him through which the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ could be brought home to his heart. At length when I was handing him one of those draughts. which had been of great benefit to him, he roughly said, • Come, Doctor, no more of that horrid stuff; l'll be cursed if I take it.' Yes! this man cursed the very medicine which, through God's mercy, had been a means of recovering bim; and he who had so recently bent his hard and proud mind to a religious tendency, now stood up vauntingly in his own strength as soon as the chastening hand was withdrawn from him.

The remedies used in his illness had been blessed to his recovery ; did he then become a new creature ? Alas ? no. Did he speak with gratitude to him who had said, “ Be thou whole ?" No. On the contrary, I was informed that he used to refer at the convivial board to the day when he had the staggers,' as he called his alarming fit; as a proof of the elasticity with which his constitution recovered from the shock, and from the physic which I had put down his throat.

In a year afterwards, he had a second attack, more severe than the first; he made pretty much the same resolutions, and went so far as again to listen to the clergyman, and ask him to read a few prayers : but gradually relapsed into his habits of excess at table. He went to church, but he had not the spirit of prayer, nor did he receive those humbling doctrines of the cross, by which alone he could be saved. A third fit some months afterwards carried him off very suddenly ; he never rallied more than to press my band, as if to assure me that he felt at last that my forebodings were correct; the pressure from that hand and the dim expression of his languid eye, seemed to say to me. I have postponed all preparation and care for the eternal world, upon which I am about to enter, until it is too late ; my day of grace is gone.'

Mr. Flint and Mr. Pine, though so different in their modes of living, had a common point of resemblance : self was the idol of each. Mr. Flint sacrificed every high consideration to the gratification of sensual enjoyments, and Mr. Pine lost the comforts and innocent pleasures of life, by his morbid sense of dangers that hardly existed, his folly in not letting well alone,' because he wanted to be better, and his apprehension of death.

Now if each of them had been influenced by the selfish principle taking its proper direction : care for the soul under a feeling of trust in the great Physician of souls; instead of making the perishing body the object of their desires, they would have done incalculably better. Unhappily neither of them, whether sick or well, desired to drink from the well of water which springs up into everlasting life ; neither of them desired the living bread; nor took the word of God as the guide to that medicine which heals, and nourishes, and relieves our moral infirmities. This prescription each of them rejected.

SHALL I, who boast Christ's hallowed name,

And look to him for life and bliss,
Attempt to hide fall'n nature's shame,

In any other robe than his?
Shall I another offering bear

Before my God? or in my own
Scant fig-leaf righteousness appear

In presence of the Holy One ?
No! let the moon repudiate

The sun's light first, and shine with beams
Unborrowed ; let the plant, elate,

The warming, and the moistening streams
To heaven restore, and still be rife

With verdure, and with sweetness fraught;
And nature give essential life,

To God who called her out of nought.
With Christ my hope, and Christ my song,

His merits made by faith my own,
I dare stand forth amidst the throng,

That circle his effulgent throne,
And counting all my gain but loss

For him, in borrowed beams I shine ;
Mine the dear product of his cross,

The righteousness of Jesus mine.

[ocr errors]


Continued from page 159.

There is one fact connected with the moral condition of the lower classes, which it is important to attend to the existence of an infidel feeling. This does not often appear to a casual visitor, especially if the object of the visit is known to be benevolent, but is at first suspected and afterwards plainly discoverable on a more intimate acquaintance, and when the visits are more simply spiritual in their character: thus a mission agent discovers it more readily, than a visitor in any way connected with charitable societies; the reason of this is obvious. It is not so decided in its character or so deeply rooted amongst the uneducated, as it is with those who have received some instruction, and can read with some facility ; but it is rather an ignorant unwillingness to receive and believe that which condemns their cherished habits and vices; and is best shaken by an appeal to conscience. Amongst those who are partially educated, and whose minds have been stirred up to any intellectual activity, this unbelief is fostered and strengthened by the publications of the Socialists, and the Sunday newspaper writers. The first not only offers a bribe to the vicious inclinations of the heart, but attracts by a philosophical jingle those disposed to exercise their mental faculties, and who have any ambition to set all the world to rights but themselves. The last appeal to the same feelings, but in a less methodical way. Their principal weapon is bold and unqualified assertion; they well know that in readers of Sunday newspapers they have those who cannot wish the scriptures to be true, and are glad to have their liberty of sinning justified. A portion of one of these papers happened to fall into the writer's hand, containing a letter from a constant correspondent, the object of which was, to shew that the Bible was totally unfit to be put into the hand of children in our public schools, on account of its immorality! and in the course of the remarks a number of references were given in proof of the assertion. There was nothing new in this affected love of virtue, and the attempt to prove the charge; but attention was arrested by the extraordinary amount of references - the writer turned to one of the first, in Genesis, and found that it had not the slightest bearing upon the question; he then turned to another and another, and found that along with one or two, which are commonly quoted and “wrestedby the Tom Paine school, there were a number of others thrown in at random, evidently merely for the purpose of increasing the appearance of proof; it was an attempt to carry the cause by a formidable array of witnesses. This was quite suffi. cient; there is a feeling within us which yields naturally to bold de. claration ; an unsuspiciousness that that which is distinctly affirmed is false ; a disposition to contide in one another : and there is something in this feeling which does homage to truth. How sad that it should ever be abused ! So generous a principle, giving peculiar strength and firmness to the natural ties of love. And not only is this feeling taken advantage of by such unscrupulous writers, but they well know under what circumstances their productions are generally read. Not simply on the Sunday when their readers are sinning, but in public-houses, coffee-shops, and tea-gardens, where there is no opportunity of testing the statements, even where they are taken up, and there was a disposision so to do, just to occupy the mind for the time. And if read at home, few of such readers have the Bible handy to refer to, if they have it at all in their possession. How strongly these considerations shew the importance of a thorough scriptural education, and such an one as tends deeply to impress Christian principles and feelings upon the young mind. This is the best bulwark against the subtilty and impudence of infidel attacks. The larger number however, probably, of the population of the district about Spitalfields and Bethnal Green, are affected by these influences only indirectly, so great a portion of them not being able to read, and many of those who can, having but little inclination for information of any kind, except it be the particulars of some revolting murder or other exciting occurrence,-a taste which they enjoy in common with some of the genteel' classes.

In the course of conversation with a pious weaver, a proof was afforded, not merely of the strength of Christian principles, even with the very ignorant, to repel the attacks of infidelity, but also, aided by a little shrewdness, of a power to defend. The man observed that he had had a visit from a relative, who not satisfied with simply dissenting from their religious principles, attacked also the foundation of their belief, and in bringing his learning to bear against them, spoke of the superior philosophy of the Chinese, and remarked that they had histories of the world which were written long before the time of Noah. The husband asked how he was sure of all this, but the wife not staying to question the statement, remarked, ' well, perhaps Noah once had them in his own possession, and took care of them in the ark; and some of his children, that wandered as far as Chiva might have taken the books with them. Though our Chinese Literari may not condescend to take advantage of the hint, yet it served to non-plus the more educated objector whose research had not extended to such minute particulars.

In the course of the details of a visitation to one weaver's family, an illustration will be afforded of the way in which the infidelity of the more ignorant operates. When visited they were not found in such circumstances of distress as many others, although suffering in common with all, from the general depression of trade. The rooms they occupied were pleasingly clean and tidy; the wife evidently taking a pride in keeping them so. She appeared on the first call 'very reserved, there being some difficulty in getting her into conversation ; but when the visitor did succeed in obtaining some confidence,

She had had a sense of religion for some time, and expressed a deep feeling of her own sinfulness, but looking round, she said sadly and seriously, “But you know, sir, conviction is not conversion. The manner and expression was an encouragement to be more earnest with her, and was a guide as to the best way of speaking. She appeared to be cherishing a hopeless state of feeling, and there was evidently a something within, yet untold. It was suggested that there probably was something she knew was wrong that she could not give up, some sin

« AnteriorContinuar »