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getting up and coming close to me, tapped me on the back, exclaiming, 'Well done, Jenetta! well done, cousin! So much for Christian meekness!'
"And here I must pause a moment, to remark that my situation at that time was a very difficult one. Nevertheless, had I possessed that Christian meekness, with respect to which even my giddy cousin had perceived my deficiency, these difficulties would at first have been infinitely less, and would probably have entirely disappeared after awhile. It was in fact, I am well persuaded, not my religion, but my want of religion, which at that time rendered the opposition I experienced, and the trials I encountered in my uncle's family, so very painful.
"Before I had time to answer my cousin Bessy, a violent rap was heard at the street-door; and instantly afterwards my cousin Frank walked into the room, accompanied by a young man, in whose appearance there was nothing remarkable, excepting that the lower part of his face was entirely lost in an enormous cravat, and that the upper part seemed to be almost entirely occupied by an immense pair of eyes, of which nothing more could be said, but that they were eyes having as little expression of any kind as any pair of eyes in a human head could be supposed to possess.
"At sight of this last personage, the young ladies sprang up as if they had that moment received an electrical shock, exclaiming with one voice, 'O! Sir Timothy! who would have thought of seeing you here 1 we believed you were in town.'
"'And so I was last night at ten o'clock,' he answered; 'but here I am, as you see, now, at your service, ladies.'
"And in fine preservation too,' said Frank, 'though in danger of being lost.'
"' Lost!' said the young man,'lost! how so, Frank V
"'Why lost in the folds of this monstrous neckcloth,' returned the other, stroking his hand over the cravat.
"' There now, upon honour, can't be quiet, Frank,' returned Sir Timothy, pulling up his neckcloth. 'But, ladies, we are come to propose a frolic: have you heard that , the great comic actor from the Loudon tlm
atre, is to exhibit in our town to-night? What say you about going to see him?'"' Say V said Bessy, 'why I say that I should like it
"' But don't you know that we have not yet been out since my poor aunt's death?' remarked my cousin Dolly; 'and it might be thought improper to make our first appearance in the theatre.'
"' O!' said Sir Timothy, 'I don't want you to make your appearance, I want to go incognito, to mob it, you know, to go in masquerade, and sit in the gallery. Eh, Frank? Nobody will think of looking for us there. Borrow the maids' bonnets, and I will wear my servant's hat and great coat.'
"' But what masquerade am I to wear V said Frank. "' O, go in your own character,' said Sir Timothy; 'you won't disgrace the gallery: no one will take you for a gentleman when not in gentlemen's company. Eh, Frank, eh V
"'I shall shoot you, Sir Timothy, as sure as you say that again,' said Frank, laughing.
"' A fine thought,' remarked Bessy, 'a fine thought has just occurred to me: I'll borrow my cousin's Methodist bonnet. Jenetta, will you lend it me?'
"By thus addressing me she drew upon me the eyes of Sir Timothy, who, coming near to me, begged to be introduced, and then said, 'I trust, fair lady, that you will not lend your bonnet to any one, but rather make use of it yourself, and honour our party with your presence.'
"'vNo, Sir,' I answered, with cold reserve;'I never go to plays.'
"' Don't you V said the baronet, fixing his large eyes upon me;'and why not V
"' O, Sir Timothy,' said Bessy, 'she would not go to such wicked places for the world: she is a Methodist.'
"Sir Timothy turned on his heel, whistled a tune, and said in a loud whisper to Frank, 'If all Methodists were like the one before me I should be inclined to be one too.'
"I cannot describe to you what pain I feel in repeating this light and frothy conversation, but I have compelled myself to give it you at some length, in order to lay before you, in its true light, the weakness of that heart which is not upheld by divine strength, and to shew you how little dependence can be placed on those who walk in their own strength, and are not divinely upheld. 'O, Theophilus! how was it possible for one who had known and loved Theophilus to be drawn aside by such characters as I have just described V
"The mobbing-party for the theatre was determined upon and carried into effect; but I found little difficulty in excusing myself, the recent death of my mother being thought a sufficient apology even by these worldly people.
"This same evening, after the younger ones were gone, while I sat at tea with my uncle and aunt, my cousin Geoffry came in, and sat down with us. His mother expressed some surprise at seeing him, saying, that she supposed him to have been at the theatre.
"'No,' said the young man haughtily; 'I certainly shall not give my countenance to such doings.'
"' And why, son V said my uncle; 'are not the girls in good company V
"' They are with those who are ashamed of them in higher society,' replied my cousin. 'Sir Timothy is willing to make our house his inn when he comes to town, and to amuse himself privately in my sisters' company; but have they not had experience enough to prove to them, that this their fine friend will not even be seen to speak to them in public?'
"' There is much truth in what you say,' replied my aunt.
"' Well then,' said Geoffry,'I am amazed that you do not put a check upon schemes of such a nature as have been allowed to take place this evening.'
"'You know, son,' replied the mother, 'that your sisters are not to be persuaded on matters of this kind by me. 1 would have prevailed on them to remain at home this evening; but as they did not choose to listen to my counsel, I should have taken it well if you had accompanied them, for the purpose of affording them your protection.'
"' I persist,' said the young man, 'in declaring that I will have nothing to do with this business.'
"The mother replied, that she took this conduct of her son's very ill, on which the young man grew sullen and walked off; and being soon followed by his father, I was left alone with my aunt, who amused me, during the rest of the evening, with long histories of the little cabals and suspected intrigues of the town—inveighing violently against a certain Miss Hawkins, the granddaughter of an earl, who was reckoned the most accomplished belle in the place, and was singled out by the world for the future wife of Sir Timothy.
"When my aunt first began upon these matters, I remember feeling such an extreme degree of listlessness as hardly to refrain from yawning; but, insensibly, as she proceeded, I found my interest excited, and caught myself several times saying, 'Well, and how was this affair concluded V—'And how did that matter terminate V The result, however, of my aunt's communications was shortly this: that Miss Hawkins and my cousin Esther were supposed to be rivals in Sir Timothy's regard; that he really preferred the latter, but was ashamed of her family, and therefore paid his respects to the one in public and the other in private.
"My mind was so full of these things, which were all perfectly new, strange, and incomprehensible to me, that when I retired to my own apartment, which I did before the return of the party from the theatre, I found myself utterly incapable of attending to my customary religious duties. I opened my Bible, indeed, and held it before my eyes, but not a single idea was communicated to my mind from the sacred volume; and I went to sleep, thinking how I would treat Sir Timothy were I in the situation of my cousin Esther.
"It may seem remarkable that I should recollect all these things with so much accuracy. But I have been in the habit for many years of making daily memorandums, or keeping a kind of journal; and although the memorandums I made at that period of my history to which I now allude are written in a spirit very different from that which at present actuates me, yet they serve as exceedingly powerful helps to my memory. But enough of this for the present.
"I will therefore now proceed to point out what appears to me perfectly evident—that, notwithstanding my late loud professions, and the mode of life which I had led from my youth up—notwithstanding my prayers, my knowledge of Scripture, my serious observances, and my pretended love of the brethren in Christ—religion had as yet taken no hold whatever of my heart. It is written, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. xi. 1.) In this faith the child of God passes through present things as if they were not, and being secretly supplied by the bread of heaven and the water of life, he is enabled to sustain the parching heats of the wilderness of this world, running without weariness, and walking without fainting. So far, however, from being at that time advanced in the walk of faith, as I then supposed myself to be, I had not taken the first steps in that sacred path. I had, it is true, much head-knowledge; but the Word of God had not yet been made effectual by the application of the Holy Spirit, to teach me even the true nature of the divine law. I had not yet been brought to feel myself a fallen creature—though I could expatiate with no small volubility on the doctrine of man's depravity, and even of my own particular corruptions, frequently calling myself the chief of sinners. And as to a renewal of heart, I had never experienced any such thing, although I descanted continually upon the need of it, and did not scruple to speak of myself as one who had undergone this blessed change, fancying I almost knew the hour and the moment when it had taken place; and, without fear or doubt, speaking of such and such feelings, and such and such events, as having taken place before or after my conversion.
"Having therefore not as yet been brought within the threshold of a regenerate state, it could not be expected that I should find the benefits of that state, which to the believer are two-fold: first, it places him in a condition of safety, consisting in a deliverance by the Saviour from every evil and danger, both in time and eternity, to which sin had justly exposed him 5 and, secondly, it af