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"Remote as the period is when I first formed an acquaintance with this excellent child, I still in my mind's eyebehold his figure as he stood before me at the moment he presented me with the ball: the exercise he had taken had given a fine glow to his cheeks, and his dark blue eyes sparkled with innocent joy. 'There, little girl,' he said,' I have found the ball, and my mother says I may give it to you; and I hope you will keep it: I made it myself. And that little book is a very pretty one: I will lend it you if you would like to read it.'
"' But there is no reading in it,' I replied, as I turned the leaves over.
"' O! I forgot that!' returned Theophilus. 'But though there is no reading in it, there are beautiful stories belonging to all those pictures, and I will tell them to you, if you please, though I cannot do it so well as mamma does.' So saying, he placed himself on the grass by me, and taking the little pictures one by one, he made it appear that some Christian anecdote and some beautiful moral were attached to each. I cannot exactly remember any one of these little tales, yet I recollect the effect of the whole, and even to this day there is united in my mind, with the memory of this book, certain ideas of the Saviour's love, of heavenly glory, and earthly peace, which never can be separated from it.
"When Theophilus had completed his innocent task, I remember that I made some remarks on what he had said, which were such, no doubt, as to give a stander-by a favourable impression of me, though spoken without intention, and as from one child to another. But these remarks were remembered by my little companion, and repeated to his mother. The consequence of which was, that I was the next day invited to drink tea with this lady, and from that period allowed to converse freely with the little boy as long as I remained at my grandfather's, which was about half a year—a privilege which was highly valued by my grandmother, who frequently assured my mother that I was the only child in the neighbourhood who was ever permitted to play with Theophilus.
"I have but an indistinct recollection of the many happy hours spent during that interval with Theophilus and his widowed mother: I remember only that I loved them both, was very happy in their company, and that they made religion sweet to me, without inflating me with high ideas of my own spiritual attainments. I remember also, that the lady and her little son both shed tears when I was lifted into the carriage to return home; and that they seemed to stand weeping at the door of their garden till I could see them no longer.
"And now I recollect nothing more till I was again settled in the old house at Leeds, and once more saw before me Mrs. Hannah Wingfield, the two old servants, together with the antique beds, chairs, tables, and pictures, which had been before my eyes from the days of my earliest infancy.
"How long I retained any remains of the simplicity I had brought with me from Staffordshire, I know not; but this I recollect, that when I was about nine years of age I one day heard Mrs. Hannah Wingfield remark to my mother, that Jenetta had lately become very fond of her Bible, and that she was thence led to hope that a saving change was about to take place in me.
"Little as I understood what the old lady meant by a saving- change. I was capable of comprehending by her manner of speaking, that it was something good, something desirable, something praiseworthy; and that it was connected with reading the Bible. I was also aware that my poor mother looked upon me with delight on hearing this remark: and I heard her reply,'I wish it may be so, Mrs. Hannah; Jenetta is young to be sure, but we have heard of such changes taking place even at a more tender age; nay, that some have even been sanctified from the womb.'
"I took no more notice of this conversation than if I had never heard it, although not a syllable of it had been lost; but, in consequence of it, I failed not to be oftener seen with my Bible. And after awhile, hearing my kind but injudicious friends speaking with rapture of that love of the Scriptures which I evidenced, I thought that I might as well endeavour to advance another step in their good opinion; accordingly I took frequent occasion to establish myself in my little chair, with a stool before me which served for a table, in the corner of the wide oldfashioned parlour which my friends occupied, where I busily employed myself with my Bible and hymn-book, singing, and praying, and reading aloud.
"Thus I accustomed myself to play the hypocrite; for I do not remember that I had the slightest feeling of religion during any of these seasons. Now a judicious conduct on the part of my friends at this time, would have proved the insincerity of my pretensions; and if they had not power to lead me on to better things, they might at least have induced me to look into myself, which was what I at that time chiefly needed. Had my friends not noticed me at all on these occasions; or had they spoken of these exercises as mere common duties exhibiting nothing particularly praiseworthy; or had they pressed upon me the importance of serving God with the heart, and the necessity of seeking the divine assistence to enable me so to do; they would then have done all that in them lay to render my formal service a service of the heart. But on the contrary, I found much in their manner when I used to be thus engaged, particularly calculated to excite my pride and vanity, and nothing which could at all indicate the smallest doubt of my sincerity; in consequence of which, I raised my voice still louder, and lengthened out my prayers and hymns till I was often wearied of them myself.
"A very little observation might have enabled my friends to discern that I was deceiving myself as well as them, by my seeming acts of devotion. They might have seen that all I did of this kind, particularly at first, was always in their presence; and that I was never found alone at my prayers and devotions in the closet in which 1 slept within my mother's bed-room, although that place was much more convenient for the purpose than the one I had chosen, and I was allowed to go into it whenever I pleased. By this criterion I might have been fairly judged in the early days of my Christian profession. But afterwards, as the delusion became stronger in my own mind, it led me to as exact a performance of the formal duties of my closet, as to those of a more public nature—thus exhibiting an alarming proof of the great lengths to which a formal professor may go in the work of deceiving himself and others, without having one vital spark of grace within him. But to return to my narrative.
"After I had carried on this childish farce for some time, and had heard myself much and frequently praised by my poor mother and Mrs. Hannah, my religious progress was at length reported to the friends who visited my mother; some of whom, no doubt in the simplicity of their hearts, failed not to congratulate me on having found the right way at so early an age: and at these seasons I heard my case compared with those of Timothy, Samuel, and other youthful saints.
"Shortly after this period, I began to talk a little in company, as well as with my mother and Mrs. Hannah Wingfield, on religious subjects; when I was accustomed to make a few apt quotations from Scripture, which were speedily reported and retailed in my hearing. And on these occasions I have heard several mothers declare how much they envied Mrs. Mannering the possession of such a child; adding, with all the warmth of Christian and parental feeling, that they would be glad to purchase for their children such spiritual blessings as I enjoyed, were it at the expence of half their fortunes. Now although these things were not addressed to me or meant for my hearing, I overheard too many of them; and they acted as powerful stimulants in urging me to support the character which had procured me so much credit.
"From this time till I was eighteen years of age, I wanted no motive which the world could hold out to induce me to preserve the distinction which I had obtained.
"Before I was twelve years of age, I ceased to be treated as a child by my mother's religious friends, who freely allowed me to make one in most of their religious parties. I acquired also much credit at this time by my knowledge of Scripture: with which knowledge my head was so well stored that I could often turn to a text when all the rest of the company were at a loss to find it: and how would the blood mount up to my cheeks with conscious pride on such occasions as these!
"I was a neat needlewoman, and handy in cutting out and making garments; insomuch that my assistance was often solicited by those who had clothing to make for the needy. By these means I continually grew in the good opinion of the excellent people with whom I associated; and if others were deceived in me, it cannot be wondered at if my mother was equally deluded, since it is well known how much the heart of a mother is naturally inclined to think the best of her child. In the mean while, I was fully persuaded in my own mind that my character was a decided one: and as nothing occurred in the way of temptation to awaken me from this dream, I became every day more and more confirmed in the persuasion, that I was one of the excellent of the earth; while at this very time every original corruption of my heart was in full, perfect, and undisturbed power. But to leave these reflections.
"At the age of seventeen I was advanced to be teacher, first of a child's school, and soon afterwards of an adult school, which I attended at stated hours in the week. In this situation I was called upon to give advice, to censure and commend, to catechise and pray; all of which duties I performed with so much prudence as to obtain still further testimonies of the approbation and esteem of the society. I now presented myself as a candidate for the communion; and being required to make confession of my faith, state of mind, and sense of sin, with other matters of importance, I gave such an account of myself as afforded much satisfaction to my friends. Mr. Barret, the minister, indeed, pressed me particularly, I remember, upon the subject of conviction of sin, and in such a manner, I have since thought, as discovered some doubts of my humility: but my self-delusion was quite sufficient to carry me through this examination with comfort to myself; so that I gave him such an account of my experiences of this nature, the strong convictions I had felt, the horrible views I entertained of my own heart, the deep sense I had of my own utter helplessness and the need in which I stood of a Saviour, that he finally expressed himself satisfied, and I presented myself the next sabbath-day at the altar, under the supposition of my being one of the most contrite creatures present.
"Should it be here enquired, whether I meant to speak