Imagens das páginas

'The sweet remembrance of the just,
Shall flourish when they sleep in dust.'"

The lady of the manor having finished the story of Jenetta Mannering, said, "My dear young people, I hope that this story may be rendered serviceable in affording you some little insight into the nature of faith, which is, as you perceive, entirely distinct from mere head-knowledge on the one hand, and from formal observances on the other. I could add much more on this subject; but since our story has occupied a considerable portion of the present evening, and as I trust that in the course of our undertaking we shall have many opportunities of enlarging on the same subject, we will at present drop it, and conclude the meeting in our usual manner."

The lady of the manor then knelt down, and, accompanied by her young people, offered up the following prayer.

A Prayer on Faith.

"O ALMIGHTY and Blessed Lord God, thou glorious and incomprehensible Trinity, we thy unworthy creatures, who now presume to draw near the footstool of thy throne, do earnestly beseech thee to bestow upon us that first best gift of faith, by which alone the atoning death of thy Son can be made effectual to our salvation. We know that by nature we are all bound in sin and unbelief, and that we can never be delivered from this bondage, unless the regenerating power of thy Holy Spirit be exercised in our behalf. We know that we are unable to help ourselves, and that thou, O Lord, alone canst impart to us that faith without which it is impossible to please thee. Deign, therefore, O blessed Lord God, for thy dear Son's sake, to give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened to see the infinite worth of the sufferings of our Redeemer, and the sufficiency of his merits to redeem his people from their sins. Assist us also to evidence our faith by a holy walk and conversation; enable us to live by faith, to depend on Christ's strength both for the will and power to do well, and on his prevailing intercession for the acceptance of our prayers, laying them all upon


the golden altar which sanctifieth every gift. Grant that our whole dependence may be on Christ; that humbly relying on his grace, our whole conversation may be as becometh the Gospel of Christ, and calculated to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. "And now to God the Father," &c.


And Thirdly, that I should keep God's holy Will and Commandments, and walk in the same all the Days of my Life.

Q. Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe and do as they have promised for thee?

A. Yes, verily; and by God's Help so I will. And I heartily thank our heavenly Father, that he hath called me to this State of Salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And I pray unto God to give me his Grace, that I may continue in the same unto my Life's end.

As soon as the lady of the manor saw herself again surrounded by her little party of young friends, she caused Miss Sophia to repeat the third clause of the baptismal vow: viz.—' And thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life.'

"My dear young people," said the lady of the manor, "this is now the tenth period of our meetings; and I believe that not a single occasion has passed, in which I have not pointed out to you, either by precept or example, the exceeding corruption of man's nature, and his entire incapacity of turning and preparing himself for good works. The Article of the Church of England is decisive upon this subject; being such as I shall repeat:—' The condition of man, after the fall of Adam, is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God: wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.' (10th Article.) Such being the case," continued the lady of the manor, "as may be proved both from Scripture and experience, it is very certain that no person in his own proper strength can keep God's holy will and commandments, and that every attempt so to do will end in shame and disappointment. Nevertheless, when man is made a new creature by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, good works as naturally follow as good fruits from a good tree. Hence the faithful are known by their works; and it is invariably found that those teachers and ministers who succeed most largely in producing examples of good works among their pupils and auditors, are those who dwell most on the higher doctrines of religion, and publish, without disguise, the whole scheme of salvation, as it is delivered in Scripture."I have often intimated to you," proceeded the lady of the manor, "that no teacher or minister is in himself able to convert a single individual among those whom he is appointed to instruct. Nevertheless, it is invariably found, that true Christian instructions are invariably followed sooner or later with the divine blessing, while the moral teacher rises up early and late takes rest without producing any perceptible effect, commonly leaving his hearers just as he found them, unconvinced and without amendment: such being the nature of sin, that when opposed by merely human efforts, it either acquires new strength, and presents a determined resistance which defies control, or it assumes a new form, and in that form commences some new act of rebellion against the Most High. An enlarged acquaintance with the commandments of God only renders a man more sensible of his sins, without giving him any power to overcome them; the law convinces a man of sin, and leaves him totally helpless; the law wounds, and leaves the wounded to perish. Were I, my dear young people, to entertain you for months to come on the subject of the purity and excellence of God's commandments, without pointing out to you whence strength must come for obeying those commandments, I should but add to your misery and

Vol. Ii. L

guilt. The law can only assist an individual in his progress towards the heavenly way, by giving him a clearer view of his own depravity, and thus pointing out to him the need of a Saviour. Hence the law is a schoolmaster to bring the sinner to Christ: but after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." (Gal. iii. 25.)

The lady of the manor then proceeded, as her manner was, to* relate a little adventure of her early days which she thought much to the present purpose.—" I once," said the lady of the manor, "during my travels, which have been various, resided for a few months in a small town, or rather village, as it would have been called from its dimensions and rural appearance, had it not possessed the privilege of a market. While residing in this place, I became acquainted with a family of sisters, who conducted a small seminary at about the distance of a mile from the town. The house and whole establishment brought to my mind the Palace Beautiful in the Pilgrim's Progress. The house was a large and ancient mansion, situated on a lawn, shaded in the back-ground by a grove of majestic oaks, and fronted by a garden abounding with fruits and flowers. The sisters who conducted the establishment were all modest, discreet, and pious, possessing that kind of beauty which is the effect of well-regulated minds and graceful habits. But what chiefly delighted me in this place, was the evident happiness of the young people whom Providence had allotted this desirable place of education. There I saw order united with cheerfulness, and subordination sweetened by affection. I often visited this place on fine summer evening, and spent many hours sitting in a bower of the pleasant garden, while I saw the happy children playing about me, among whom were two little girls of my own, who are now rejoicing in the dwellings of everlasting bliss."

Here the lady of the manor paused a moment, and a slight blush overspread her cheeks; but soon recovering herself, she proceeded—" It was impossible for me to behold so much harmony and love, so much activity, modesty, obedience, and cheerfulness, in this little society, without feeling an unspeakable gratification. It is seldom that I think it right to use very strong expressions

« AnteriorContinuar »