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of approbation when speaking of my fellow-creatures, since unqualified praise is only due to the Almighty, as the great First Cause and Author of all good. Nevertheless, I was one day so much delighted with what I saw in this family, that I could not help expressing my extraordinary satisfaction to the second sister, as we sat working together in the parlour.
"In reply to this, she answered, 'Whatever meets with your approbation in this family must be attributed, under the divine blessing, to our eldest sister, whose holy charity and truly Christian gentleness enabled her successfully to disseminate through this little society those precious doctrines of the Word which have produced the effect you so greatly admire.' She then entered into a little explanation of their outset in the way of life in which I had become acquainted with them. She informed me, that when their little seminary was first opened, her eldest sister being then absent, the control of the family was in her own hands. She owned, that she had at that time no knowledge of the doctrines of the Gospel, and that her religion was entirely legal; insomuch that she was for working out her own salvation by good deeds, and compelling others by the terrors of the law to endeavour to do the same. 'I have naturally, said she, 'a high spirit, and am of a firm and decided temper; you may therefore suppose that the poor children who were under my charge met with no mercy when they did wrong. Every misdemeanour that came within my view, or the knowledge of which I could by any means obtain, I punished with the most exact justice, being determined to pursue offences of every kind with rigour, till sin, as I hoped, should be banished the house. But what were the consequences of this conduct? My untempered justice, although it checked some open and flagrant acts of evil, excited such a spirit among my pupils, as would effectually have put an end to all hope of my usefulness. Sin was committed as frequently as before, but with more caution; and if it forsook one form, when opposed, it instantly assumed another. I laboured to advance that which was right, but made no progress. Frequent tumults and partial rebellions arose in the family; and I could not but observe
that when by some severe punishment I had excited the angry passions of one child, others would seem to be infected with the same feelings, till the whole house appeared, as it were, at once and in a moment to be all agitated by one evil spirit.
"' Though amazed at the ill effects of my own efforts, yet I felt that sin was not to be allowed in my neighbour; and therefore I continued to visit every breach of the law on my little rebels with unabating strictness but without the smallest apparent benefit, till the arrival of my sister, who had been residing for some time in a truly pious family. This happened just at the crisis when the poor children were duly prepared by the terrors of my government to enjoy the sweet influence of her gentle manners, and to profit by the truly evangelical modes of instruction which she adopted. As the traveller in the parable would not have rejoiced in the healing balsam administered by the good Samaritan, had he not first fallen among thieves and been wounded; so the poor children, humanly speaking, would not have reaped any lasting benefit from my sister's mild instructions, had they not groaned for a time under my severer discipline.
"' I soon made my sister,' continued the young lady, 'acquainted with the situation of the family. Upon which she immediately pointed out to me the error of my management, making me sensible that the heart of man can never be kindly influenced or amended by the terrors of the law; and that, although correction must be used at times, it should only be employed as a means to lower man's lofty thoughts, and prepare him for the reception of divine truth. She then intimated, that she could never hope to see an improvement in the state of the children, until Christian principles should begin to operate among them; adding that, although faith was the gift of God, and therefore could not be imparted by any human means, she felt it an indispensable duty to use such means as were in our power for the purpose of facilitating so blessed an acquisition.
"' My sister,' continued she, 'immediately began to act upon these views so perfectly new to me. She endeavoured to make the children acquainted with the Christian religion, taught them to understand wherefore they were unable to do well, and where they were to seek assistance for that purpose. And from that time the system of correction, though not wholly interdicted, was much seldomer recurred to in the house: and such now is the general influence of religion in the family, that there are several individuals among the young people with whom we have never found reason to adopt any other methods of treatment than those of the gentlest kind.' »
Here the lady of the manor having concluded her little story, added, "My dear young friends, in this little anecdote which I have just related, you will perceive the different effects of the Law and of the Gospel on the human mind, and how entirely ineffectual the law must needs be in changing the heart. But since I shall have occasion frequently to recur to this subject in our consideration of the Commandments, I will now proceed to the next clause in the Church Catechism; and for this purpose shall request you, Miss Sophia, to answer the following question.—' Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe and to do as they have promised for thee?'"
In reply to this question, Miss Sophia repeated these words.—"' 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.'»
"It was my intention, my dear young people," resumed the lady of the manor, as soon as Miss Sophia had finished all she had to say, "when I undertook my present engagement, to present you with a course of instruction upon all the most important parts of our holy religion; and also to direct your judgments, as far as in me lay, with respect to many of those lesser matters which fall peculiarly within the province of women in your rank of life. It might indeed be said, that I am not fit for so large and important an undertaking. I grant this: I own myself to be utterly incapable and unworthy of such an employment: but after being urged to this work, and made to feel that I ought to attempt it, I was enabled also to trust that strength would be given me from on high to perform the duty assigned me. I remembered on this occasion the words of the promise— As thy days, so shall thy strength be, (Deut. xxxiii. 25.) and acting conscientiously upon this principle, I have hitherto found the requisite assistance. I now, however, am entering on a point at once so delicate and of so much importance—a point on which it is absolutely necessary to open your minds, and yet, one in which the slightest error or misstatement might have the most injurious effect, that I feel more than ever the need of divine assistance, lest I should darken counsel by words without knowledge. (Job xxxviiii. 2.)
"In that part of our Catechism," proceeded the lady of the manor, "which we have chosen for our consideration this evening, supposing ourselves to be believers, we thank our heavenly Father that he hath called us to a state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And we pray unto God to give us his grace that we may continue in the same unto the end of our lives.
"Now," said the lady of the manor, "in these few words we find, in a concise form, an acknowledgment of that doctrine which is stated more largely and plainly in the seventeenth Article of our Church. This Article, which treats of predestination and election, is thus worded.—' Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity. As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfal, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation. Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.' (17iA Article of the Church of England.)
"From this Article of Predestination," continued the lady of the manor, "it appears that those who are to be saved were chosen before the foundation of the world, to be delivered from curse and damnation, and to be brought by Christ to everlasting honour. It also appears, that they are called according to God's purpose by his Holy Spirit; and that through grace obeying the call, and being made sons of God by adoption, they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, attain to everlasting felicity.
"Thus it appears, that there is but one way in which fallen and sinful man can be accepted with God, and justified before him, and that is entirely of grace, through the perfect atonement of Christ alone, and not through the merits or deservings of the person saved, or through any good works which he has been enabled to perform either before or after his calling. For our Church expressly decides upon these different sorts of works, in her separate articles, and declares her opinion that neither the one nor the other can have any influence in procuring man's justification in the eyes of God. Hence man is left utterly without any cause of boasting; and thus, as a celebrated writer on this subject states the case, 'the