Imagens das páginas


Q. You said that your Godfathers and Godmothers did promise for you, that you should keep God's Commandments. Tell me how many there be ?

A. Ten.
Q. Which be they ?

A. The same which God spake in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, saying, I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

First Commandment.-- Thou shalt have none other gods but me.

On the usual day of the week appointed for the assembling of the young people at the manor house, the lady of the manor received them all in her wonted graceful and affectionate manner; neither were they sorry to observe a small manuscript lying upon her work-table, from which they promised themselves the pleasure of hearing some interesting and profitable narrative. However, the lady commenced the business of the evening without any reference to this manuscript, by putting several questions from the Church Catechism to Miss Sophia. The questions and answers were to this effect.

" Q. You said that your Godfathers and Godmothers did promise for you that you should keep God's commandments. Tell me how many there be ?

“ A. Ten.
"Q. Which be they?

6 A. The same which God spake in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, saying, I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

“ It cannot be necessary, my dear young people, to remind you of the time and occasion when these commandments were delivered," said the lady of the manor. “I will not therefore expatiate on this part of our subject, but proceed to remark what perhaps some of you may already be acquainted with—that the ten commandments comprehend not the whole communication made at that time from Mount Sinai ; but that there were many other laws and ordinances given on the same occasion for the observance of the people of God. These have always been classed under two heads; viz. the moral, and the ceremonial : the former of which are of eternal obligation, having been ratified by Christ, and being in their own nature essentially good; but the latter, consisting only of types and symbols, all of which received their completion in Christ, are now passed away, even as the shadow gives place to the substance. With respect to the moral law, it has been found, by the universal experience of every individual throughout all ages, that no man has ever been able to keep it undefiled in the smallest point. Hence St. Paul says, Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Rom. iii. 20.)

“ Could a man perform every article of the moral law," continued the lady of the manor, “and were he so to do from his infancy unto his death, he would have undoubtedly such a claim on the divine justice, as to have nothing to apprehend, were the earth itself to be dissolved, and the heavens to melt with fervent heat; for death could have no dominion over such a man, neither would he be subject in any degree to those pains and infirmities, which are the effects of sin in all our fallen race. But while it seems almost profane to fancy the existence of such a man, you will be surprised to hear me assert, that many persons, either from their ignorance of themselves, or of the nature of the divine commandments, imagine themselves to be nearly without sin; presuming to speak and act as if eternal happiness was the merited

reward of their good works. But in order, my dear · young people, to convince you of the spiritual nature of

the commandments, and to make you sensible of your

incapacity of fulfilling the duties which they enjoin, we will consider each commandment one by one, beginning with the first."

The lady of the manor then requested one of the young people to repeat the first commandment; which being done to this effect, “Thou shalt have no other gods but me,” she proceeded to make the following remarks.—“The Lord is our King, and therefore we owe him the duty of subjects. He is our Saviour, and therefore has a right to our utmost love and gratitude. His united glories and excellences render him worthy of our adoration; but our praises and prayers must for ever fall short of his infinite perfections. In this enlightened country, my young friends, we are not tempted to that open breach of this commandment which we condemn in the heathen: nevertheless, I fear, that with respect to this commandment, we are all habitually and presumptuously guilty; and perhaps those persons who are of the household of faith, or are at least professing Christians, are more perversely blind in this respect even than thé men of the world. The love of self is a species of idolatry of which I have often spoken to you. The idol self reigns in every unregenerate heart; and I wish I could say that it was dethroned and stripped of its dominion in the hearts of those of whom we might hope better things. But as I shall have much to say to you on this subject in our future discourses, I shall now only speak of that peculiar species of idolatry which seems to obtain so largely in the Christian world. I mean that excessive veneration which is shown to ministers, preachers, writers, missionaries, and other persons whom the Almighty vouchsafes to employ in his service on earth, whereby their usefulness is frequently marred, the Saviour thrown into the background, the Spirit grieved, and the abomination of desolation set up in the holy place.

“ But,” continued the lady of the manor, “ lest I should be tempted, perhaps, to speak too warmly upon this subject, the evil of which cannot be too strongly felt, I shall proceed to read a little narrative to you which is much to our purpose.”

The lady of the manor then opened the little manuscript before mentioned, and read as follows.

Human Praise.

Mr. James Eliot, a young man of respectable though not of high family, went out to India, about forty years ago, as a free mariner; and having, during the stay of the ship to which he was attached, formed a friendship with a young man in a merchant's counting-house in Calcutta, he remained in the country when the vessel returned to England, and soon found a situation in a mercantile house in Calcutta, where after remaining a few years, and amassing a small sum, he left that city, and entered into the indigo business, in a part of the country about two hundred miles distant from the presidency, where he was entirely separated from European society.

The indigo business is one of peculiar hazard and uncertainty; some persons obtaining by it sudden and immense fortunes, while others as speedily prove bankrupts. It pleased the Lord, however, to bless the store of Mr. Eliot, so that in a short time he acquired a very considerable property, and was actually thinking of an immediate return to England for the peaceful enjoyment of his fortune, when, during a short visit to Calcutta, he fell into the society of some of those pious men who for a few years past have devoted themselves to the promotion of the Gospel among our native subjects in India.

Mr. James Eliot, who had lived for the last ten years in the jungles, where he had not acquired a single idea on the subject of religion, and had considered the conversion of the natives as a thing entirely out of the ques. tion, beholding with amazement the exertions then making in and near Calcutta, began to form a more advantageous idea of that religion which could induce persons brought up in civilized society to give up numerous pleasures and comforts, and to endure many considerable privations, in order to promote the spiritual welfare of the heathen. From that time, he became an inquirer after Christ, and was presently found of him whom he had been léd to seek. His time in Calcutta was short; but as soon as his eyes were in any degree opened, so rapid was the change produced in him by the light of the Gospel, that he returned to his jungles, as it were, a new creature, and even before he reached the end of his journey, he had resolved to quit all present thoughts of going back to England, determining thenceforward to devote all his leisure hours to the instruction of the poor natives by whom he was surrounded.

It is not my purpose in this place to enter into any particular account of the methods which he adopted for the promotion of this blessed undertaking. His plans were, probably, such as now under various modifications, are adopted by holy men in different parts of the world for the conversion of the heathen. He established schools, and built a small place of worship, where, in default of a more duly qualified person, he read and expounded the Scripture himself in the native tongue: he provided readers to go forth into the neighbouring villages : he assisted the sick, the fatherless, the orphans, and the widows; and used every lawful means in his power to make himself acceptable to the untaught heathen around him. He found in this, his blessed career, many disappointments and some encouragements. And though he endured much fatigue, particularly from labouring in a climate so peculiarly relaxing as that of Bengal, yet he was blessed with great peace of mind, and an entire freedom from that dejection of spirits to which he, in common with the greater part of the European inhabitants of Bengal, had formerly been very liable. It is true, that when he read the accounts of what his Christian brethren were doing in other parts of the world, especially of the great anniversaries of the Bible and Missionary Societies in England, where thronging multitudes, made up partly of the great and the noble among men, were assembled together to promote the work of their heavenly Father-he would sometimes look round from the solitary elevation on which his house was situated, on the villages with their bent roofs and bamboo porches, on the swampy plains, the tops of trees, and the vast meadows on which herds of buffaloes cropped the rank pasturage; and as he looked he would feel a momentary dejection of spirit at the thought of his entire separation from all Christian society. At these seasons he could not forbear crying out, “ Had I but one friend, one Christian brother, to whom I might open my heart, to

Vol. 11. X

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »