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tion to Mr. Lester on behalf of a poor man; his repulse; the figures of description, &c. &c. &c. in the most exact order.
This mechanical fidelity in the narrations of the aged, may supply to the philosopher an interesting subject of inquiry; while it often affords to the young and the facetious a source of innocent gratification; yet it teaches all a most humiliating lesson, by exhibiting the infirmities which may befall the deathless spirit of man, ere he gain that state of intellectual and moral perfection which is to be enjoyed when he is presented faultless before the presence of the only wise God and Saviour.
"Has Mr. Lester, who resides at the old mansion, any family?"
"Yes, Sir, he has several children; but Miss Lester is the chief ornament of the family. She is equal in beauty, and in charity, and in condescension, to Sir Thomas' lady; but I think she surpasses her in religious knowledge. It is to her instruction that I owe, under the divine blessing, my clearer views of Scripture truth, and the hope of a blissful immortality, that now gilds the evening of my life with its brightening beams."
The statement which he gave us, though often heard before by my esteemed friends, was new to me; and as it may interest the pious reader, I will record the more prominent parts of it. And though by doing this, I may give the spirit of infidelity an opportunity of accusing me of painting from fancy rather than from life, yet as I feel no terror from its frowns, nor dread from its sarcastic invectives, I shall not suppress a well-attested fact, as a compliment to its igno
rance and antichristion onmite
The olk clerk was born within the pale of the establishment, and taught from his earliest days to observe all its laws, customs, and ordinances with the most scrupulous exactness; and as he felt anxious when a lad to gain the situation which he had now filled for the greater part of half a century, he became no less distinguished for his chaste morality, than his regular and punctual attendance at church. He had early imbibed the notion that God requires nothing more from man than a strict conformity to the religion of his forefathers, and the practice of the social virtues; and as he had never heard this opinion controverted, it became an established doctrine of his creed. Hence, when about fifteen years of age, he was confirmed by the Bishop of Salisbury, and soon afterwards took the sacrament; and so desirous was he to excel in his religious attainments, that in addition to the Catechism and Belief, he learnt all the Collects and Prayers which are contained in the established formulary of devotion. Thus his life was gliding away, unruffled by the agitations of controversy, free from the cares which oppress the great, calmly waiting for the hour of his departure, when he expected a reunion with the spirits of his departed friends. Soon after the Lesters came to reside at the old mansion, he received a visit from the amiable Miss Lester, who spent the greater part of her time in going about amongst the poor, distributing her alms of charity, conversing with them. on religious subjects, and lending them books to read.
"The first time I saw her at church," said the old man, "I thought she looked more like
an angel than a human being; and when I heard of her deed of goodness, I thought my opinion was confirmed." She came to see me when I was ill, about two years since, and I shall never forget her visit; for though what she said gave me a great deal of uneasiness for some time, yet it led me to derive my hope of future happiness from a purer source than that from which I had been accustomed to derive it."
He was sitting in his arm chair, very ill, when she entered his cottage; and having made some general inquiries respecting his indisposition, his age, &c. she expressed her hope that he was anticipating his entrance into that better world, where the weary are for ever at
"Yes, Miss," he replied, "I have been fit to die for more than fifty years; for it is more than ifty years since I was confirmed by the Bishop of Salisbury, and since I first received the sacrament; and I don't know that I have ever done any thing to injure any body."
"I am happy to learn that you have lived a comparatively blameless life, and that you have attended to the sacred ordinances of religion; but still, if you read the Scriptures, you will perceive that something more than this is required of us, before we can be admitted into the kingdom of heaven."
More than this! What?"
"Our Saviour says, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
"I have been baptised, and my name stands in the church register."
"But our Saviour says, Except a man be born of water AND OF THE SPIRIT, he cannot enter
into the kingdom of God. He here expressly states, that the baptism of the Spirit is necessary to fit us for heaven; and if you read the Epistles of the New Testament, you will perceive that the same requirement is enforced by the Apostles again and again; as in the following passage:-But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
"This, I must confess, is a new idea; and as it is one which appears to receive the sanction of the holy Scriptures, I will examine it."
"And you will permit me to say, that I think you do not place you hope of final bliss on the proper foundation. You alluded to your religious habits, and to your comparatively blameless life, as forming the basis of your hope of gaining an entrance into heaven; but if you read the New Testament with close attention, you will perceive that we are all sinners, in relation to God, though we may not violate any of the laws of human society; and that if we are ever delivered from that state of condemnation in which our trangressions have involved us, and admitted into the kingdom of heaven, it must be through faith in Christ Jesus, who has suffered for us, the just for the unjust, that we might be brought to God. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
"All this," said the old man, "was new to me; and though expressed in very plain language, yet I could not understand it. However, when Miss Lester left me I took my Bible, and examined it, to see if her statement was correct; but before I began, I prayed to the Almighty Spirit to assist me by his teaching If wrong, I prayed that he would correct my errors; and if right, I prayed that he would keep me from erring. The more I read, the more I wished to read. I was soon convinced that the foundation on which I had been building my hopes of salvation was a false one. This alarmed me. I now felt like the jailer at Phillipi, and adopted his What must I do to be saved? My peace prayer, was gone, till it pleased God to enable me to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and then it was restored, and became like the gently flowing river, that passes through our village, calm and permanent."
"Are you not surprised that you should have remained for so many years entirely ignorant of the scriptural plan of salvation, notwithstanding all the advantages you have enjoyed to gain correct information?"
"I was, Sir, till I read the following passage of Scripture:-But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. When Í read that passage, the mystery was explained; but now, blessed be his holy name, I can say, He hath revealed them unto me by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."