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You will meet with many opponents, who will speak evil of those things which they understand not; but I flatter myself you are able to defend yourselves against any common adversary.
At a small distance from his house was a wilderness through which were cut many mazy walks, bordered on each side with a great variety of flowering shrubs and evergreens, and shaded by lofty oaks, limes, and chesnuts. Here Mr. Neville delighted to walk in the summer months with his children; for he seemed to enjoy nothing without them.
One day, after they had been sometime in this cool retreat, conversing about indifferent matters, My children, said he, do you meet with no rebuffs, or foolish pity on account of your religion? I ask this, because I know the world, and that part of it especially where Providence has fixed our lot.
I assure you, sir, replied Maria, those who have hitherto encountered us have had little reason to boast of any advantage they have gained. The truth is, religion seems to be no part of the business of the polite world ; and the poor too frequently follow the example of the rich. It has been rare that any other argument has been used than ridicule, which, in the opinion of too many, is the test of truth. Persons, however, of this character, have learned to laugh at religion in general; it is no wonder therefore that ours does not escape their derision.
My children, said he, I believe what you say, that your opponents have gained no advantage over you; since, as Shakspeare says, Thrice is he arm'd who has his quarrel just. With regard to ridicule's being the test of truth, nothing is more false. The time is coming, when the laughter of those who assert it will be turned
into mourning; and when the righteous Judge will say to them, Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish. It was foretold, that there should come, in the last day, scoffers, walking after their own lusts; which prophecy is abundantly verified. These men talk of honesty, moral rectitude, and the fitness of things; but their practice is too frequently the reverse. The two great springs of human action are fear and hope: these being once broken or obstructed, every part of our moral conduct is inevitably discrdered. The best of the, heathens, such as Socrates,
Plato, Tully, Seneca, and many others, so far as they were influenced to lead a virtuous life, were actuated by a faint hope of immortality. I wish these mockers were only to be found among those who have left the Catholic church; but it is to be lamented, that these tares of infideli. ty have taken such deep root in the world, and have spread so far and wide, that many, too many of them, have sprung up among ourselves,
Pray, Sir, said Eusebia, of the many Sectaries who are divided from the Catholic church, which do you think the worst?
My dear, replied he, of the many withered branches you see upon the ground, which do you think the worst? Alas! these heretical sectaries have all rent the seamless coat of Christ, and destroyed that uniformity which was the glory of the church for many ages. Instead of being, as formerly, under the bishop of Rome as the common bond of union, every one believes and does that which is right in his own eyes. If, however, I were to give the preference to any, it would be to the church of England. Her bishops dare not deny the uninterrupted succession in the see of Rome; their own ordination would be invalid, even in their own esteem, if they were to do this. But behold their inconsistency. Although they confess that ours is a true church, and consequently never re-ordain any priest that goes from us to them; yet they have violently rent themselves from this true church, and are, therefore, as I before said, only to be considered as in the same state with these withered branches and as lying under the fearful curse of St. Peter's successors.
If they should say in their own defence, that there are some things among us, which need reformation, we acknowledge it. All good men have prayed for the perfection, as well, as for the peace of the church ; but this perfection they have found easier to be desired than attained. When that violent schism took place in the time of Luther, they called it the Reformation; but if you would know what kind of reformation it was, you need only look at the lives of the reformed. Where will you find among them those alms-deeds and acts of hospitality, that voluntary poverty, that renunciation of the world, and that mortification of the body, which are to be met with among us?
All these things, said Maria, are so obvious, that it is a matter of wonder with me, that they who abandoned out communion should continue to make any profession of Christianity. I conceive the guilt would have been very little more, if they had renounced the name as well as the thing
Yet so blind are they, replied he, to their own imperfections, that every different sect of heretics thinks itself only to be right; and they are such consummate deceivers, that many in my time, of whom I hoped better things, have forsaken the flock of Christ to follow these blind guides. O my children! that you may be guarded against every error, is the summit of my wishes : and be assured, that a failure in this point would make me abhor and detest you : I should think the roof accursed under which you dwelt, and the earth polluted on which you trod, nor would I ever see you more. I thus speak, because I would arm you on the right hand and on the left.
The young ladies thanked their father for his tender care of them; and told him, that if they should cver be so far lost to a sense of their duty and of their interest, as to become heretics, they desired him to show them no favour.
At Barnwell, a village about four miles distant, lived a gentleman, whose name was Mr. Robert Barnwell. He was the son of a Jamaica planter, and was born in that island, where he resided with his father till he was in the twenty-fifth year of his age, except only five years that he had lived in England, whither his father had sent him, when he was a boy, to be educated.
Mr. Barnwell had risen from very small beginnings, his first occupation in Jamaica being that of a menial servant to a planter; who, perceiving him to be industrious, on leaving the island made him overseer of his plantation; after which, by a train of favourable circumstances, he at length arrived to considerable opulence.
When the old gentleman arrived in England with his son, he waited a long while before he could please himself in a purchase; for being a man who looked a great way before him, he thought that in process of time some of his family might be ennobled. He determined, there. fore, to buy an estate, where the name of the village belonging to it was sonorous, and of considerable length, that it might serve for a title. He was a man of such refined taste in this respeot, that he would have thought five hundredor a thousand pounds well bestowed in an additional syllable. After long waiting in vain, fortune favoured him as he termed it, in a way he never expected. The village and lordship of Barnwell were to be disposed of, to pay a debt of honour contracted at Newmarket. He became a purchaser without hesitation ; for notwithstanding there was at least a syllable too little in the name, yet, as it was the same with his own, he justly thought that it would give his family an air of antiquity. He would say sometimes to those with whom he was intimate, (for what is uppermost will come out some time or other,) Now, does not Giles Barnwell, Esq. of Barnwell, sound very well? And when they answered in the affirmative, which truth, as well as good manners obliged them to do, Yes, he would say, but Lord Barnwell, of Barnwell, would sound much better; and who knows but some of my posterity may come to that honour, if I do not ?. And even if I myself should be ennobled, as strange things as that happen
almost every day. The old gentleman's foible was, with little reason, made the subject of ridicule by the wits of that time; since the vain pursuits of mankind in general, are at best but of equal importance. If he appeared more culpable than his neighbours, it was only owing to his being more sincere. Had they been as open, they would have been equally exposed to the shafts of satire.
He now employed his time in building an elegant seat near the church, and in walling and planting a garden. He had almost completed his design, and was promising himself the peaceable enjoyment of the fruits of his labours, for many years to come, when having drank pretty freely the preceding evening, in the company of several neighbouring gentleman, who had come to visit him, he was found dead in bed, having been seized, as was supposed, by an apoplectic fit.
Mr. Robert Barnwell, his only surviving child, had not been in the enjoyment of his patrimony above a year, before he married a young lady whose name was Chauncey. She was the sister of Mrs. Worthington, the wife of Mr. Worthington, a West-India merchant, at whose house he resided when he was in London. Mr. Barnwell had four children, three of whom died in their infancy. Miranda, the youngest, who was the only one that lived to years of maturity, was so named at the earnest desire of her mother,
because Miranda was the name of an imaginary character in a book of devotion which Mrs. Barnwell had read with great pleasure. This lady died of a consumption, when her daughter was in her thirteenth year. · She was a pious gentlewoman, and had taken much pains to instill the principles of religion into the tender mind of her child. A more than ordinary vivacity and liveliness of temper, together with a turn for company and amusements, caused her to profit but little from her mother's instruction ; but she was the darling of her father, who thought he saw every part of his own image impressed on his daughter.
Mr. Barnwell was of the church of England, but thought it the duty of every person to remain were he was brought up. He looked upon dissenters, whom he termed sectaries, as a wrongheaded people : however, their continuing of the same sentiments with their parents he considered rather as their misfortune than as their fault. But with regard to those runagates, as he called them, who left the established church, he thought them beneath contempt; and would sometimes say, and even swear, that if he had been brought up a turk or a Jew, he would not have changed his religion. He would observe, that it was of no importance what a man believed, but that practice was every thing, and would often quote those lines of Pope
For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong, whose life is in the right. Of all the productions of the press, none pleased Mit Barnwell better than the drama. Here, he would say, we see the world in miniature, and find virtue and vice painted in tlieir proper colours. He was also fond of promoting the representation of plays among the young persons in his neighbourhood; for he considered the stage as the properest place to form the manners of youth. He observed that there they gained a graceful attitude, an easy carriage, a becoming confidence, and a just pronunciation.
Miss Barnwell needed no incitement to things of this kind, as they were quite agreeable to the natural bent bf her inclination. Yet, in the midst of all these pursuits, she received many checks from conscience, which, like an unwelcome visitant, would be oft intruding. The divine maxims which had been early inculcated by her pious mother, would frequently furnish mafter for conviction: