my friend took me by the hand, which no mortal can ever hope and his voice confirmed what his to equal, but which I daily study, countenance expressed, that he as a model of unattainable though was really glad to see me. imitable perfection ; a character

We had chatted more than an which combines such dignity hour, with all the hilarity and and condescension, such subliminterest which a renewed friend-ity and humility, so much forship, after long separation, in-bearance under affront, such paspires, when we were most dis- tience under ill usage, such love agreeably interrupted by rude to God, and such good will to noises at the gate : a servant en- man, evinced by habitual piety tering announced the arrival of and philanthropy, that even men some clamorous complainants, of the world are compelled to who required the interposition admire it, whilst those to whom it of my friend as a magistrate. is given to understand it love and He immediately arose, apologis- adore it. Imagination never coned for the necessity of attending ceived a character so amiable, his duty, and was preparing to so elevated.” From this and leave the room, when I request- some other expressions I sused to accompany him. The par-pected Theophilus had become ties stated their complaints, a Methodist,and the morning and which had arisen out of a drun- evening use of family prayer, ken brawl, with the greatest ve- with the general tenor of his hemence, although they were so conversation, so different from trifling and ridiculous, that I what it used to be, tended strongcould not suppress my vexationly to confirm the suspicion, alat the ill timed intrusion. My though I saw nothing in his befriend, however, heard them, havior or in that of his family, of not merely with patience, but the cant, precision, and formaliwith complacency, and I admir- ty attributed to people of that ed the dexterity with which he denomination. The suspicion, soothed and composed the enra- however, (I now with ged opponents, and the well ad- shame,) abated somewhat of that apted, impressive admonition cordiality which I felt on the with which he discharged, after first renewal of our intimacy ; having reconciled, them. All bùt an intercourse of a few days this was done without any emo- completely annihilated it, and tion, and with so much good hu- my admiration of his character mor, that I could not conceal my and love of his person hourly insurprise. Theophilus, smiling, creased. His deportment was replied, “ You knew me at a so invariably courteous and kind, time when I should not have his conversation, though serious, horne such a scene with so much was so free from gloom, so affacomposure, but since our sepa- ble and cheerful, his whole deration I have been studying mc- meanor was so graceful and enrals and manners in that book, gaging, that I never saw the (pointing to one which I saw was character of a fine gentleman a bible ;) in that," continuing more strisingly displayed than his discourse with a rising ani- by him. Decorum, civility, and mation in his voice and eyes, politeness, we expect, and usual" there is a character described, I ly find, in persons of a certain rank in life ; but in him they ap- duct was beneficially felt wherepeared the expressions of innate ver they were known. The embenevolence. His complacency barrassed applied to him for adwas without effort, the result of vice, the distressed for assistance, principle, the indication of a and the unhappy for consolation, mind disciplined and composed, and the sympathy which he felt and although I knew that his and exhibited on such occasions thoughts were frequently occu- gave a grace to his generosity, pied by business of urgent im- and a softness to his admonition, . portance, which required intense | which gained the affections, as consideration, I never saw him well as the gratitude, of those absent or embarrassed in society, whom he relieved. I regretted or inattentive to conversation, that I could not see him in the to which, without any appear character of a husband and faance of dictating, he often gave ther, but he had lost his wife an improving and entertaining three years before my visit to tone. But nothing struck me him, and the death of his only more forcibly than his behavior child had preceded that of its to young people ; he seemed to mother. feel that to be extensively useful When I visited Theophilus it to them he must possess their was my intention to pass a few esteem and confidence, and as days only with him, but I was this was an object which he had attracted by the irresistible fasconstantly in view, he concilia-cination of his society to prolong ted their attachment by a famili- my stay. I joined in all the daiarity which never lessened their ly devotions of the family at first, respect for him; he would join rather (I will not disguise the them in the hours of recreation, truth) from a motive of conforme participate their gaiety, and pro-ity than from a sense of religion. mote their innocentamusements; But it was impossible to be long and without the repulsive for- in the company of Theophilus mality of instruction contrived, without feeling the influence of even at those times, to impress his character. The union of pi. upon their minds useful know-ety and external elegance is irledge and important truths ; and resistible ; in him they were when he assembled them, as he united, beyond what I ever saw often did, for the express pur- in any man, and it was evident pose of instruction, it was con- that he had not learned politeveyed in such a mode that they ness from the fashionable world seemed as anxious to receive it only, but that it was the expresas he was willing to impart it. síon of principle and feeling Nor was the society of Theoph- combined. The prayers which ilus less agreeable to the aged; he used in the family were eithe same behavior endeared him ther those of our church, or comto them which conciliated the pilations from the different seryoung : in short, as a master, a vices of it, or compositions of landlord, or a member of socie- our best divines; and they were ty, he was equally respected and uttered by him with so much unesteemed by his family, his ten- | feigned devotion, that it was imants, and his neighbors, and the possible to hear them often withinfluence of his opinions and con- out being affected by them. I had, in fact, become in love with ments. Let the friendship of our religion before I knew what it declining years be cemented by was, for although my mind had the rational desire of promoting not been indurated by the max. the eternal welfare of each other. ims of infidel philosophy, I had I now look back to the time when never seriously considered the we passed our mornings and subject of revelation.

evenings together, in follies and Theophilus remarked with pleasures, as a period of delirium; pleasure the traces of this altep- and whilst I tremble at the reation, he improved the opportu- collection of the dangers in which nity afforded him by it, of intro- we were plunged by it, I adore ducing moral and religious to- with unspeakable gratitude the pics of conversation, to which, in mercy which rescued me from the first days of our renewed ac- it. To you I am bound to make quaintance, I should have paid this confession as an atonement little aitention ; and he led me for my criminality, in encoura. insensibly to the perusal of books ging by my example and particalculated to enlighten my un- cipation the thoughtless dissipaderstanding, and awaken and tion of your younger years. Iga alarmmy apprehensions. Some norant of your situation abroad, times he would descant on the and unapprised even whether frivolous or vicious pursuits of you were living or dead, what the times, expatiate on the mis- pain have I not felt from the rea ery occasioned by them io indi- collection of that period, and of viduals, families, and the nation; ten have I raised my voice in or contrast the turbulence and prayer for you to the God of anxiety of a life of dissipation mercy, that he would book down with the solid composure of a upon you with compassion, and religious mind, and the dying recal you from the dangerous despair or insensibility of the im-courses in which you began the penitent sinner, with the serene career of life. I-Iosi devoutiy do confidence of the true believer. I thank him, that he has affordAll this was done with so much ed me an opportunity of telling judgment, that I felt its effect vou this myself; most devoutly without perceiving the object of f'do I implore him, that under his it. To shorten the narrative, I good providence I may be the had passed a month with him, means of rescuing my friend when one evening after he had from the misery and destruction read a discourse to his family, of sin. Eighteen years, the third which furnished the subject of part of our lives, have elapsed our subsequent conversation, he in absence from each other; they addressed me with an awful, af- have passed like a dream, and fecting seriousness, and in terms the remainder of our allotted exwhich I shall never forget. istence, be it more or less, will

“ I love you, Edward, (said he) soon vanish in the same manner, and I mean to give you a solid and the question, which we carproof of iny affection. Our not evade, will then be asked, friendship began in yonth, and how we have passed our lives? was founded on a similarity of Have we lived to the glory of dispositions, which led us to the God or to ourselves? What an same occupations and amuse alarming question to beings, who

[ocr errors]

are created for an eternity of its thrones and potentates, their happiness or misery, deriving dignities and splendors, fade befrom nature a propensity to evil fore it like the shadows of the and aversion from good, with an night before the rising sun. But incapacity in themselves to will it is a theme too vast for mortal or to do any thing pleasing to tongue, a vision too bright for God ! But the gracious Father human eyes.” of mankind has not placed his Here Theophilus paused for a children in a state of remediless few moments, absorbed in conmisery, he has not imposed ob- templation of the divine wisdom ligations upon them which can- and benevolence displayed in the not be discharged; and though redemption of man. we cannot save ourselves, he has “ Such (continuing his disprovided a salvation for us. Pe- course) is the glorious hope ruse the volume of eternal life, which God in Christ has revealwhich has been given for our in-ed to us ; it is no fiction of the formation ; there the mystery of imagination, but rests upon the the redemption of man, which immutable promise of the eterhuman imagination could never nal word, by whom the world have conceived, is plainly reveal. was made. He calls upon all ed. Ruined by sin, man must men to accept it, and prescribes have perished for ever, if the the indispensible conditions of Son of God had not descended repentance and faith. Believe from heaven and made atone- and be saved ; but faith, let it ment for the sins of the world. be remembered, must ever be He has borne the burthen of our shewn in love to him evinced by iniquities, and the gates of im- obedience to his commandments mortality are no longer barred that love which will make the against us. Through faith in duty of obedience easy and pleabim we have access to the man-sant. sions of heavenly bliss, for he is « But the same Jesus has althe way, and the truth, and the so declared this alarming truth, life. But we cannot enter them that there is a state of endless with the pollutions of carnal de- misery for those who reject the sires and appetites, with earthly gracious offers of God through passions and affections ; our de him ; who refuse to believe in siles must first be spiritualized, their Saviour. Strive, my dear our affections sanctified, our na- Edward, to escape it, whilst yet tures must undergo a purifica- the hour of grace is given to you. tion, we must become new crea- The first step towards religion ture before we are meet to be is a deep, humiliating conviction partakers of the inheritance of that you are a sinner, and as the saints in light; for this pur- such, an offence to a holy God, pose a sanctifier is no less offer- whose eyes are purer than to ed to man than a Redeemer, behold iniquity ; this will lead who sheds his purifying influ- you to the consideration how ence upon those who devoutly you are to escape his wrath, and implore it; in the name of Jesus. to the interposing mercy of Thus redeemed and sanctified Christ. May the divine grace what a scene of glory opens to impress this conviction deeply Our view. The earth with all I on your heart ; implore it in the name of Jesus ; pat up your pe- to relieve my mind from des. titions also for understanding to pondency, earnestly inculcated comprehend the great mystery the duty of benefiting by the of redemption through a cruci- grace of God, which through his fied Saviour, for repentance and means had been offered to me, faith ; and I will offer up mine as well as the danger of rejectthat the Holy Spirit may pour ing it. down upon you his illumination, You will anticipate the conand by his sanctifying influence clusion of my narrative : my inrenew you in that righteousness valuable friend, who, by the blesand holiness without which no sing of God, sowed the seed of man shall sce the Lord.”

the word in my heart, never The tears fell from his eyes ceased to water it and promote as he concluded, and mine had its growth. We daily read the bedewed my cheeks whilst he scriptures together, he shewed was speaking. He strained me me the connection between the to his bosoan with an affection- Old and New Testament, pointate embrace, and we separated ed out the most remarkable profor the night.

phecies which had been com. I was too much affected by pleted, particularly those relathis discourse to enjoy much re- ing to the Messiah ; explained pose, and although my mind difficult passages, and noticed was in some degree prepared others as affording important for its impression, it excited a subjects for meditation, and he variety of ideas which I had ne- read the sublime strains of dever before, or imperfectly, en votion in the scriptures with a tertained. “ If this be true, in rapturous animation that seem. what condition am I? Have I ed almost inspired. not lived without God in the How different do I now apworld ? a mere conformist to pear to myself from what I was the practice of religion, without when I entered the house of any knowledge of its spirit ? | Theophilus. I look back with What would become of my soul, horror to many scenes of my if God this night should require life, which I used to retrace it of me?" Such amongst ma- with complacency; and I feel ny others were the reflections more satisfaction from this conwhich occurred to me. I felt trition than I ever derived from

to pray, as well as the that dissipation in which I fornecessity of prayer, but I could merly thought myself happy, scarcely utter more than repeat-. Under a deep and humiliating ed ejaculations. In the morn- sense of the iniquities of my past ing, though dejected, I was life, I take a delight in spiritual somewhat more composed, and meditations, which, six months I then confessed my sins to God, ago, I was incapable of conceivand implored his pardon in the ing. I look with trembling hoper name of Christ, with a devotion for pardon and redemption, thro' which I had never before felt. the atonement of a crucified SaI made no hesitation in commu- viour ; and whilst, in humble nicating all my emotions to The dependance on the assistance of ophilus ; he rejoiced to perceive divine grace, I endeavor to work them, and whilst he endeavored 1 out my salvation with fear and


« VorigeDoorgaan »