Imatges de pÓgina

of God, then is his burden lightened, and his tongue instinctive ly exclaims in the language of inspiration-"The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

"As for myself, why should I grieve? because the dear object of my earthly affection has entered into the joy of the Lord? for such is the blessed confidence with which her faith in him has inspired me. No, my dear friends, though I am deprived of a companion in whose society I enjoyed all the happiness, which this world can afford, though my children have lost a most affectionate endearing parent, yet my sorrow is well nigh absorbed in the thought of the happiness which she now enjoys. I derive support and consolation from the confidence I feel, that the Lord, in whom she trusted, has taken her to himself, and from the hope that through faith in him I shall again see her a purified saint, in the company of my ever blessed Redeemer."

This was a scene to which few persons present had ever witness ed a parallel, and for which The ophilus was wholly unprepared; his admiration was equal to his surprise; he knew the rector to possess more than a common share of sensibility, and that the warmest affection had ever sub sisted between him and his wife. The style of the discourse, the tone and manner in which it was delivered, and the unimpeached integrity of the preacher, did not suffer him to entertain a doubt respecting the sincerity of his resignation, and he felt all the force of the example, although he then was by no means qualified to appreciate the value of the

principles which had inspired it.

Theophilus was too much affected by what he had seen and heard, to accost the rector after the services of the church were finished, but he visited him on the next day, and then, as well as in all his subsequent interviews, found his conversation and deportment in exact correspondence with the doctrines which he publicly taught. The weight of such an example was hardly to be resisted by any mind susceptible of piety or sensibility; and Theophilus was led by it into a train of reflection, upon the power of that religion which could support human nature under the deepest calamity; and he justly concluded, that if it were founded on substantial evidence, the consolation which it inspired was no less rational than solid, He saw clearly that the topics of condolence and resignation, suggested by philosophy, were neith er sound in principle nor efficient in practice, and that the frame of mind which they were calculated to produce was a sullen, rather than a rational acquiescence : whilst Christianity, on the contrary, inculcated submission without extinguishing feeling, and, by the views and hopes which it inspired, satisfied the reason whilst it alleviated the distress of the afflicted. He determined, therefore, to peruse the scriptures with patient unprejudiced attention.

Theophilus, with whom I have frequently conversed on the interesting subject of the progress of his religious convictions, has confessed to me, that although he immediately discovered, in the code of revelation, a system

of morality, equally pure, ration al, and sublime, founded on the justest conceptions of the Supreme Being and the nature of man, and adapted to all people of every country and condition, it was long before he rightly under stood, and cordially and practically embraced the fundamental and peculiar truths of Christianity; the ruin of the world by sin, its redemption by the atonement of a crucified Saviour, and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit. The truth was, as he now acknowledges, that he depended too much upon himself, and had overlooked the necessity of prayer for the Divine assistance to enlighten his understanding and purify his heart; hence it was that he perused the scriptures rather as a code of ethics than a revelation, which taught him the alienation of man from God, and the means of his reconciliation with his offended Maker and Judge.

But the pious rector, with whom he now constantly associated, pointed out his errors, and taught him to renounce all dependence upon himself for spiritual improvement, and to trust in him alone who is the author of every good and perfect gift, soliciting his aid by fervent and frequent prayer. Theophilus most readily submitted to his instruction, and being by the divine grace gradually enabled to perceive the grand display of heavenly mercy in the redemption of man, embraced with ardour the gracious invitation of an Almighty Saviour.

This worthy clergyman is now no more; he died about ten years ago, and Theophilus, who can scarcely mention his name

without a tear, has since his death liberally maintained his children. They are placed under the care of a pious relation in another county; and Theophilus, who has undertaken to provide for their temporal welfare, has made a particular bequest in his will for this purpose, lest he should not himself survive to fulfil his engagement.

Theophilus having deliberate ly adopted the religion of Jesus, determined, in humble dependence on divine support, to act up both to the letter and spirit of it. His first endeavour was to correct himself, and to bring his mind under subjection to the gospel; and as he was sensible of the nat ural impetuosity of his temper, as well as of other irreligious propensities, he laboured incessantly to subdue them. The instruction of his family became an object of his early and serious attention; he was aware both of the obligation of performing this duty, and of the inhumanity of neglecting it. By degrees he extended his care to his dependants and neighbours, and his liberality, which was now under the direction of his piety, aided the influence of his exertions. His progress was opposed by many obstacles, but he was not deterred by them from perseverance. The obnoxious epithet of Methodist was applied to him, and his gay friends amused themselves with impotent and profane jokes upon his conversion. He had ignorance perpetually, and malice and ingratitude frequently, to contend with; but these impediments, instead of inducing him to relax his efforts, stimulated him to redouble them, and he had the happiness, in many instances, to

find them crowned with success. I shall not enlarge upon a subject which has been so amply detailed in my former narrative, and which describes Theophilus as he now is; but I have learned one anecdote, of his conduct, which so strongly marks his principles and good sense, that I cannot deny myself the pleasure of relating it. There never was a period in which it was more necessary to enforce the example which it inculcates.

A short time before the death of his pious instructor, a recruiting party took up its quarters in a small town at no great distance from the residence of Theophilus. The commanding officer, a young man of family and fashion, had contrived a plan for seducing the daughter of a farmer, a tenant of Theophilus, who was apprised of the scheme just in time to prevent the ruin of the girl. On this occasion he wrote a letter of expostulation to the of ficer, which the other resented as an insult, and brutally challenged him. Theophilus declined the defiance without hesitation, and addressed a second letter of remonstrance and admonition to the officer, which produced an insulting and abusive reply. The report of this transaction was circulated much to the prejudice of my friend, and, as usually happens in such cases, with many circumstances which were wholly unfounded, and which remained for a time uncontradicted; for Theophilus, satisfied with having performed his duty, was silent on what had passed, from a principle of Christian forbearance to the officer who had insulted him, although he was, at the same time, fully aware of the consequences that

might attend his refusal of a challenge.

About a fortnight after this occurrence, Theophilus was present at a numerous meeting of the gentlemen of the county, a few of whom had adopted strong prejudices against him on no other grounds than because the invariable rectitude of his conduct furnished a perpetual contrast to their irregularities. He remarked, what he had been prepared to expect, a cold formality and reserve in their reception of him, little short of incivility. After a moment's deliberation, he requested their attention, explained all the circumstances of the transaction, which had led to a correspondence with the officer, and addressed them in terms to the following purport:

"I have been given to understand, what it would pain me much to believe, that my refusal of a challenge has depreciated my character in the estimation of some to whom I have the honour to speak. I know that, even by the laws of honour, I was not bound to meet my challenger; but I dare not take refuge from reproach in such a plea. No, gentlemen, I am called upon publicly to avow, that in declining the challenge sent to me, I acted from a superior motive, from obedience to the law of God, which admits of no compromise with the rules of honour. The Master whom I profess to serve, not only requires my obedience, but the avowal of my allegiance, and disclaims the hypocritical service of a disciple, who is ashamed of the name of his Lord. I shall not expatiate on the absurdity, barbarity, and illegality of duelling to a believer in the doctrines of Chris

tianity, it is sufficient that the practice is condemned by the positive command of the Almighty-"Thou shalt do no murder,"-and that it is opposed not only by the letter, but by the whole spirit of our holy religion, the essence of which is love to God and man. These are the principles upon which I have acted, and to which, by God's assistance, I am determined ever to adhere, through honour and dishonour, through evil report and good report. Eternity is of too serious importance to be staked against the opinion of the world; and professing to fear him who can destroy both body and soul forever, I dare not offend him by the deliberate commission of a crime, which may send me or a fellow-creature uncalled into his presence, with the dreadful consciousness of wilful sin, which cannot be repented of."

This address, of which I am enabled only to give you an imperfect sketch, was heard with great surprise, but with an effect much to the credit of those to whom it was offered. It was well known, that at no very distant period, Theophilus would not have declined a challenge, and those who were disposed to attribute his new principles to a methodistical bias, could not refuse their applause to his manly avowal of them, whilst all concurred in approving that conduct which had exposed him to the insult of an unprincipled libertine. Some of the company did not hesitate to express an unqualified approbation of his behaviour, and an old and respectable divine spoke with enthusiasm in favour of it, as affording an example which, under similar circum

stances, all were bound to imi. tate, at the hazard of their im mortal souls.

I now revert to myself. The period of my residence with Theophilus is nearly expired, and in a few days I must leave my invaluable friend and benefactor, and return once more to the mixed society of the world. I am too well acquainted with the power of long established habit not to feel some apprehension of danger from the temptations to which I may be expos ed, on revisiting the scenes of my former dissipation. Of all my life, I can only reckon the last six months as in any degree devoted to God, and to the care of my own soul, and I feel there fore my want of constant aid from the society, encouragement, and example of those, who live by the rules of the gospel. This aid I am not to expect from my old friends and associates. My newly acquired principles are, I trust, too firmly fixed, to be shaken by ridicule or sarcasm; on this account I have no alarms; but what I most dread is the contagious influence of the society of those, who though not professed infidels, and even nominal Christians, live without God in the world. The danger of such a society is the greater because it is not as much sus pected as it ought to be, and there is a natural tendency to accommodate ourselves to the dispositions and conversations of those with whom we associate, particularly when we are not disgusted by open profaneness, immorality, or indelicacy. Our principles are thus gradually undermined, for want of due care to invigorate and confirm them,

for the daily recurrence of frivolous and worldly conversation naturally tends to produce idle habits of thinking, and in time, if not counteracted, to annihilate the very power of serious reflection and meditation.

I have explained my apprehensions to Theophilus, who is pleased to find that I entertain them; he tells me to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, for the support of divine grace. He has promised to write to me frequently, and to introduce me to the acquaintance of a most respectable clergyman in London, as well as of another friend of his, with an assurance that I may depend on their assistance and advice, in whatever relates to my spiritual concerns. I shall leave him with unfeigned regret, but with this consolatory hope, that a few months will enable me to finish the business which calls me to the metropolis, and that I may then return to his society; for the benefit I have already derived from which I most devoutly return thanks to God.



Selected from a work of the Rev. Thomas Hartley, entitled, Paradise Restor'd; or a Testimony to the Doctrine of the blessed Millennium.]

IN the Panoplist for August, page 92, in the Life of St. Irenæus, given from the Christian Observer, we find the following

paragraph; "Irenæus is also said to have been for some time the scholar of Papias, the Bishop of Hieropolis, a man of unquestionable piety, but of a weak judgment and narrow understanding, which, leading him to misunderstand some of the more abstruse parts of scripture, proved the occasion of great errors in many who followed him, and revered his memory; errors, the contagion of which, Irenæus himself did not wholly escape."

It would be doing justice to the memory of those pious and ancient fathers, to notice what has been said and published, on the other hand, by those who have made it much the business of a long life, to search into antiquity, and to inquire what was accounted orthodox doctrine in the early ages of the church.

To answer such a purpose, the following extract from the above mentioned venerable author, is submitted to the judgment of the editors of the Panoplist.

Mr. Hartley, in citing the testimony of the primitive fathers for a future triumphant state of the church, under a visible reign of Christ on earth; after introducing the plain testimony of Justin Martyr, which is to be found in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, proceeds as follows.

"Irenæus, Bishop of Lions, was another father of chief note in the early days of the church, having been a disciple of Polycarp, as Polycarp was of St. John. Very honourable mention is made of him, by the fathers of the following ages, and by those who rejected the doctrine of the Millennium, as Eusebius, Theodoret, and St. Austin, styling him an apostolical man, admirable,

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