Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

On my informing our friend Thomas of these things, he told me that he was persuaded I had a fever, and that my complaint would be removed with my disorder : indeed I have been far from being well for some time. Thomas observed, that he had no doubt but those blasphemous thoughts, which may be justly compared to fiery darts, were caused by the wicked onc, who takes occasion, from the different states and temperaments of our bodies, as well as from our various ages, constitutions and circumstances, to make use of such temptations as he judges will succeed. Thus, said he, the hunger of Christ, and the fear of Peter, were made use of by Satan, as the means by which he would gladly have destroyed them. With regard to your being tempted to fear that after all you may prove a hypocrite, know, my friend, that unreasonable fears, as well as unreasonable hopes, ought to be discarded by our better judgment. There is continued he, a cau

tious, child-like fear, implanted in the hearts of all God's ( children ; and this fear is not quieted by any thing less than a dependance upon the Redeemer alone for righteousness and strength, and a settled purpose to take up his cross daily, and to be obedient to all his commands. This kind of fear may justly be called the barometer of prayer; for in proportion as it rises, we are brought low before the footstool of the divine majesty, which is a certain prelude to our exaltation. In common the fears of God's children are not anxious, corroding and tormenting, but are over-balanced by a settled and well-founded hope. And on the contrary their hope is not of the bold and presumptuous kind, or such as permits them to do those things deliberately which they know are offensive to God. No, my dear friend, their happiest moments are balanced with fear, in order that they may be kept from carrying too much sail, and running upon rocks and quicksands. Thus our God, if we are in danger of being exalted above measure, permits some thorn in the flesh to wound us, some messenger of Satan mercifully to buffet us; because this transitory life is not our rest. Or if we are likely to sink in floods of temptations and trials, he puts out his hand to save us; like as our Lord saved Peter, whose faith failed him when walking on the waves,

It seems then, Thomas, said I, that if our hope of eternal life be such as to keep us from tormenting fears, it is

[ocr errors]

sufficient for this imperfect state; and that, on the other hand, if our fear is the mean of our walking cautiously, humbly, and circumspectly, it ought to be considered as a blessing rather than as an impediment. To this my friend fully agreed.

O Madam, you can scarcely conceive how happy I am at times in this good inan's company. I wish I could say that that was the case. at home : but I have much reason to bless God that it is no worse with me. My father returned a week past; and my sister and Father Albino have spared no pains to inform him what an incorrigable heretic I am. They told him also of the letter I received from Mr. Charles Clifford. But truely, Madam, he is the best of fathers; for instead of reproaching me, he said, my friends, this sweet lamb (for so he kindly called me) has wandered from the fold of Christ; but instead of worrying her, it becomes us to imitate the good Shepherd of Israel, who carries the lambs in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young Come, my child, (taking hold of my hand and kissing it,) make the heart of your afflicted parent glad, by giving me hopes that we shall spend a long eternity together in the presence of God. Alas, my dear love, what is time? It is like a tale that is told. But eternity, how long! Think, my Eusebia, what it is which renders us capable of enjoying the beatific vision. It is holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. And notwithstanding all that Mr. Clifford has blasphemously said against the church of Rome, its enemies must confess that a great number of its members in every age have been famous for holiness. Now that church cannot in its own nature be bad, whose institutions have had such salutary effects : nor can the religion of protestants be good, whose lives in general are notoriously unholy. Where do you find among protestants, those who leave the world, that they may be entirely dedicated to the service of God; or any who undergo volentary sufferings, because they have sinned against so great and so good a being? Or indeed, where do you find among them that primitive hospitality, and those almsdeeds, for which the church of Rome has always been so eminent? These are realities. In judging therefore of things, we should not judge with prejudice, nor according to fallacious appearances; but we should judge righteous judgment. There may have been many

feigned miracles among us, and several other things not altogether defensible: but did a wise man ever throw away an apple because there was a speck in it? While we ourselves are imperfect creatures, we cannot with any justice or propriety expect perfection in others. This I maintain, that the church of Rome has in all ages been friendly to holiness of life, and has studied every method to promote it: they, therefore, who find fault, must do it either from captiousness or ignorance. My dear child, consider, I conjure you, these things which you know to betrue, and leave those pernicious heresies into which you have been so unhappily deluded.

This tender usage, and this zeal for my happiness, melted me into tears. After I had a little recovered myself, I took hold of my dear parent's hand, and enabraced it. O my good, my kind father, cried I, I trust that God will indeed favour us so highly as to cause us to spend an eternity together in his presence. It is my constant prayer that this may be the case. O thou father of mercies, grant for the sake of thy dear Son, that these my friends may come to me ; for thou knowest I cannot go to them. You must not say so, interrupted father Albino. Your honoured parent has shown that the church of Rome has always been friendly to holiness of life. In proof of the same thing, I may also appeal to the saints, and even to the days set apart to commemorate their bright example, which are intended to help us forward in our Christian course. Pray my child, look around you, and see

if

among all your heretical acquaintances, you can find any one whose purse is ever open, like that of your father, to relieve the distresses, and alleviate the miseries of mankind. Moreover, you will not easily find those who spend as much time in their closets in a year, as he does in a day: and in their families they are alike remiss. Whereas you, my child, have been brought up in a family, where prayer without ceasing has been offered to the divine Majesty, both with you and for you; so that your defection from the only true Church of Christ is as amazing as it is dreadful.

Pray, my good father, replied I, hear me patiently. I do indeed grant, that that religion is the most perfect which is the best calculated to promote holiness of life; and I am not to learn, blessed be God, that without personal holiness noman shall see the Lord. Yet I can concetve it

to be possible, that a person may give all his goods to feed the poor, and even his body to be burned, and be destitute of love to the true God. I can also easily conceive, that persons may be very diligent in private, domestic, and public worship, while they have only the form of godliness, and are destitute of the power. True religion consists in a knowledge of the true God, and of his Son Jesus Christ; and in being conformed to him through the influ. ence of the holy Spirit, who, to accomplish these desirable cnds, takes of the things of Jesus which are revealed in the Scriptures, and shows them unto us, The children of God are sanctified by the truth, and not by any contrivances of men.

With regard to prayer, although he is certainly no Christian who is not habitually breathing out his soul unto God in prayer, yet it would not follow that we were Christians, were we to spend twenty hours out of the fourand-twenty in private, family, and public worship; since, without faith, or a right understanding and belief of divine truth, it is impossible to please God. The Pharisces made long prayers, and were not destitute of a form of godliness, and the Turks in general most conscientiously pray five times a day, and will not neglect the appointed times of prayer, be their business ever so urgent. Zeal may prove a person to be superstitious; but it does not prove him to be holy, unless it be regulated by the oracles of truth.

And pray, my dear child, cried my father, who is most likely to understand the oracles of truth?

The fathers, doctors, and learned men of our church, some of whom lived in the days of the apostles; or you, a mere babe, who indeed are almost literally but of yesterday?

If the Scriptures, Sir, are true, replied I, the chance is in my favour; since they declare that God has hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.

Alas, Sir, cried father Albino, whatever you say, she has an answer at her tongue's end. This is the old road which we have travelled over and over again. Scripture may be brought to prove almost any thing, which shows the necessity of our understanding it as the church does. Here lies the great difference between us and heretics. If you ask a catholic what is the rule of his faith and practice, he will tell you, The Scriptures, as they have been

understood by the church in all ages, which church those very Scriptures declare to be the pillar and ground of the truth. If you ask a heretic what is the rule of his faith, he will also tell you, The Scriptures; but if you further ask him who is to judge of the sense of the Scriptures, he very modestly replics, himself. When a person is judge in his own cause, it is no marvel if he decides in his own favour.

I was going to tell Signior Albino, that the servants of Jesus are both the only true church of Christ, and also the only pillars or supporters of the truth; but my father stopped me by observing, that the friends of the Redeemer manifest their love to him by obeying, and not by disputing. He therefore earnestly desired me, he said, to weigh these things calmly, and to endeavour to manifest my love to God by my obedience to my parent.

The morning after the above conversation, my father told me, that, as the weather began to be fine, he and father Albino intended to take a journey to St. Omer's, to sée my brother; and he earnestly entreated me to accompany him, and to take the veil, either at that city, where there are always a great many English people, or at Calais, if I should like that place better. Father Albino backed this request by observing, that, in the company of the holy sisters, I should soon forget my unhappy prejudices; and that he should expect no less than to hear I was become a saint:

I implored my father, on my knees, not to think of placing me in a nunnery; for that I would rather be turned out of doors, than be imprisoned for life with person's with whom I could expect no kind of happiness.

Well, my child, cried my father, if you will consent to go with us to see your brother, for whom I know you have the most sincere affection, I give you my word and honour that no method shall be used

to make you comply with my request, except entreaty. But I flatter myself, my dear Eusebia, that the piety and persuasion of your dear brother may be the means of your seeing both your duty and your happiness, which are so inseparably connected.

Ah, my dear child, said father Albino, if you should es. cape this dreadful shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, I solemnly vow to go on a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella

« AnteriorContinuar »