« AnteriorContinuar »
vouring fire. You will acknowledge, Mr. Law, that if a man was arraigned for murder, and he were to plead that he was naturally choleric and revengeful, it would rather aggravate than extenuate his crime. In like manner, a man can only plead at the bar of God, that he was an unbeliever, because he was naturally wicked, and had no taste for divine and heavenly things. But this plea will be inadmissible. Why, said our Lord to the unbelieving Jews, even of yourselves judge ye not what is right ? Wheels
Tea was now brought in, which put an end to the controversy.
Our friend Eusebia is writing to you, and will give you an account of the conversation she had with Mr. Clifford.
My dear aunt, I ever remain s
than by my attendance countenance an idolatrous worship. I have through the divine mercy been much supported by the scriptural declaration, that all things work together for good to them that love God; and also by what our Lord said to Martha, Thou art careful and troubled about many things ; but one thing is needful ; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. I believe we are naturally too prone to be harassed and distressed about evils, which peradventure will never be permitted to befall us, how inevitable soever we may think them ; which, if they do come, we may be supported under in such a manner as we could scarcely have thought of; or from which an unexpected way may be prepared for our escape." Il Madam, we possess that pearl of great price which a wise merchant would sell all that he has to purchase, it becomes us to do our duty in our present circumstances, and then resign ourselves entirely to the will of God; since he who has given his own Son to die for us, will not suffer us to want any thing that is really for our advantage.
Your niece has given you an account of her conversation with Mr. Law nearly as it was conducted; only I perceive she has omitted some few things spoken by her father not at all to his honour as a Christian. She undoubtedly suppressed them because he is her father, and because it is therefore her duty to cast a veil over his infirmities. Mr. Law gave the first offence by reviling the dissenters. Nota withstanding he is what is called a good-natured man, I perceived by some hints he dropped while we were at tea, that he could hardly bear several things that Miranda had said. At length, Mr. Clifford exclaimed, I really think, Sir, that Miss Barnwell has treated you with all the decency and respect the nature of the controversy would admit. The slut used me with some severity : but I always say that a man should never either dispute, or attempt to be a member of parliament, until he is prepared to hear the worst that can be said, both of himself and of the cause he defends.
The old gentleman, who loves to talk, said to Mr. Barn
well after Mr. Law was gone, Pray, Sir, is this young lady always so sparing of her words? I think, Madam, (turning to me,) those lips have not been unclosed since dinner, except to admit the edge of the painted porcelain :
Ah, my friend, cried Mr. Barnwell, shaking his head; if you had heard her and your Charles the other evening, I dare say you would have thought her a proper counterpart to Ben Jonson's silent woman.
Well, said Mr. Clifford, this makes good an observation which I have often inade, that if persons know how to hold their tongue, it is almost certain they know how to talk. My Charles, continued he, says a great deal about you: but as I love a woman should be humble, I believe I shall keep it a secret. This, however, I must say; he was so altered when he came home, that I should not have known him, if his face had been changed as much as his mind.
I am glad to hear it, Sir, replied I. .
I do not know, Madam, said he, why you should. For my part, I do not see much necessity for it. Except in the article of religion, my boy is not a very faulty charac‘ter. He is brave, generous, and humane, and neither a drunkard nor a debauchee; and these are great matters as times go. With regard to religion, I was early set against it myself, by seeing it made a trade of. Do you think the parson believes a tittle more of Christianity than I do? No, nor half of them ; nor yet a tenth part of the other half. I am amazed, therefore, at their impudence, in undertaking to make others believe what they do not believe them. selves, and much more so at their claiming wages, when they are conscious they deserve the pillory as impostore Who in their senses can receive or believe a religion, which is made as mere a craft of as that of Demetrius the shrine-maker ?
I am sorry, Mr. Clifford, answered I, that you cannot distinguish between the pure religion of Jesus Christ and the corruption of it, especially, as that corruption was foretold in the Revelation as minutely as if that book had been written in modern times.' It was there predicted, that the kings of the earth would support a set of spiritual merchants, who should traffic in the souls of men. Your seeing this, Sir, come to pass, ought rather to have confirmed you in the truth of the Christian religion than have caused you to doubt it.
Yes, Madam, said he, but (you will pardon me) the miracles which have been wrought by holy jugglers in your church, many of whom have been detected in their pious frauds, are enough to make one sick of miracles. It would be a miracle indeed if I should ever believe in miracles.
Do you think, Sir, replied I, that it would be wise to conclude, from the number of counterfeit shillings, that there have been no real ones? I am sure you do not. On the contrary, the existence of counterfeits is a proof that there have been those which were genuine. But with res. pect to false miracles, the Scripture also informs us, that the coming of antichrist was to be after the working of Satan, with all powers, and signs, and lying wonders ; so that if wicked men had not arisen, impiously imitating the mighty power of God in their pious frauds as you justly call them, a powerful evidence would have been lost of the truth of those miracles which are recorded in Scripture.
And pray, Miss Neville, said he, who do you think an. tichrist is?
A body of people, Sir, replied I, who, under the name of Christ, are in reality opposed to Christ: and such is the church of Rome, and every other church which so far agrees with it as to render Christianity subservient to its own ambitious purposes. .
I did not hesitate, Madam, to speak the truth; for I knew it must soon be discovered that I am what is called a heretic.
"Mr. Barnwell was surprised. Are you in earnest, Miss Neville, said he, or in jest ? I have thought ever since you have been here, that you have talked differently from what you used to do; but I am now convinced you are as much a protestant as I am. I suppose this is my daughter's doing. I dare say she will receive no thanks from your father. Indeed, Madam, I think every person ought to keep to the religion to which he was brought up.. :
I have had a dispute with my son, said Mr. Clifford, concerning your being a catholic or a protestant; but I find I was in the wrong. He was positive, whatever your friends were, that you were not a catholic, Well, ladies, you have almost made a convert of him between you ; I doubt you will not have the same success with me. Now, for instance, Miss Neville, can you seriously think that a person could possibly be restored to life after he began to putrify, as Lazarus did, and indeed must do after, in so warm a climate, he had been dead four days ? I fear you will not give me so good an answer as when I asked who antichrist was. There, indeed, you hit the nail on the head ; for a tribe of hireling state-priests would, I confess, be no honour to any religi n.
I saw a poor man, replied I, soine time past, who had found a watch that had been run over by the wheels of a waggon, and both sides of which were nearly crushed together. Do you think, Sir, he would be able to repair it?
I think he would not, replied he.
But although, Sir, said I, this poor inan might not be able to repair it, you will not deny that it was in the power of the maker to repair it. Apply this to the case of Lazarus. You and I should indeed have been foiled if we had attempted to raise Lazarus from the dead; but he who made him was able to do it. Indeed, Sir, I may truly say of you, as Christ said to the Sadducees, who also disbelieved the resurrection, That you err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.
I must confess, Madam, answered he, that the comparison is plausible, though not quite convincing; since I know very well that a watch is made by a watch-maker, but I have not equal reason, nor indeed any reason to believe, that he who was said to restore Lazarus to life was he who made him. I acknowledge, indeed, that the Scrip. tures, speaking concerning Jesus, declare that all things