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At such times she made many resolutions, that God should have some part at least of her time and affections. These promises being made through constraint, it is needless to say that they were very badly kept.
She was about nineteen years of age, when, as she was looking over her mother's library, she accidentally took down a quarte Bible, and, opening it, found a quarter of a sheet of paper pinned to one of the leaves, which her mother had written, as appeared by the date, but two days before her death. It contained the following words :
Miranda, my dear child, the child of many prayers! I am going into the presence of my dear Redeemer, where I have no doubt but I shall meet with a happy reception, as in him only has been my confidence. But alas, my love, I fear I am taking a long, an everlasting farewell of you and your poor father. A great and impassible gulf must forever separate us, unless God in his mercy should cause you, my dear child, to make this book your bosom friend, your daily companion. The words which it contains are the words of God. Pray over every sentence. Here only can you learn what he is; what you are; what you are capable of being in this world, through his word and Spirit ; and what both the righteous and the wicked will be during a long eternity.
Farewell. Upon reading this paper, Miss Barnwell shed floods of tears. The dread that her dear mother's words should prove prophetical, and that she should indeed never see her any more, made a deep impression on her mind; and she made many vows and resolutions, that for the future she would be a new creature, and entirely devoted to God and to his service. She appointed set times for prayer, and for reading the Scriptures, earnestly imploring the Majesty of heaven and earth to second her good endeavour's. But notwithstanding all her vigilance, she discovered so many defects in herself, arising either from the omission of duty, the commission of sin, or that propensity which she had to vain company and trifling amusements, that her heart frequently sank under the burden. She was loath to go backward; yet numberless disappointments and broken resolutions made her despair of getting forward İnstead of the ways of God being an easy yoke, and a light burden, she thought them the hardest yoke, and the heaviest burden.
An elderly gentleman, named Clifford, frequently visited at the house of Mr. Barnwell. He was a person who seemed to aim at being taken notice of in the world, by pretending to doubt of every thing; and though, according to his own sentiments, he had no certainty of being right, yet no one could appear fonder of gaining proselytes. The design of his pretended doubtings being to discredit divine revelation, he would take every opportunity to affirm, that Moses and the Prophets, together with Christ and his Apostles, were impostors. Yea, upon occasion, this doubter could demonstrate, that a miracle had not been wrought since the creation of the world, if by the way it were created, which was also matter of doubt with him.
It was the misfortune of Miss Barnwell to fa}l into the hands of this doubting, positive gentleman. He took an opportunity to give the conversation a religious turn, and began with showing, that every religion had its origin in the invention of some legislator, or priest, or both; and that Christianity was an engine of the state. He then endeavoured to prove, that men of liberal sentiments had always looked upon these things with contempt, they being only calculated for the meridian of the vulgar. What, cried he, do you think of the speaking of Balaam's ass; or of Samson's throwing down a temple by mere strength; or of his carrying the gates of Gaza? Miss Barnwell replied that she had not sufficiently considered those things to be able to defend them. She soon, however, retired to her closet, when the poison which had been poured into her ear began to operate. She fully assented to the doctrine of her new teacher, and furnished herself with the following additional proof of there being no reality in religion. I have, said she to herself, both fasted, prayed, and watched, and taken every method to become religious, and all to no purpose; for while I have been engaged in this fruitless toil, I have resembled the fabled Sisyphus, who was condemned to roll a stone up hill, which continually returned upon him.
How glad was this young lady to be loosed from those restraints and fears, which she now thought were only fit to intimidate the vulgar. Like a deer escaped from the huntsman, she determined once more to mix with the herd, and to enjoy her former pleasures and her ease again. She made the trial : pleasure and a round of dissipation were the only objects of her pursuit: but she soon discovered that this plaister would not cover the sore. At many times she would cry out, O what a wretch am I! Without a God; without hope of immortality! My utmost wish is to die like a beast, without the poor expectation of living one thousandth part so happily! If I had the wealth of the Indies in my possession, I would part with it all to be a snake or a toad! At other times she would reflect that she must now either openly avow herself to be an infidel, or put on the mask of hypocrisy, and pretend to be what she was not, which last she could not bear to think of. I must 'never, she would say, alter my condition, nor impose such a wretch on any man for a wife. Besides, how, or in what manner, could I instruct my children? I am all doubt and uncertainty. If there be a God, I have no knowledge of him. I neither know for what end I came into the world, nor what will become of me when I go out of it.
In this deplorable state of mind she continued more than half a year, neither looking into any books calculated to satisfy her doubts, nor conversing with any person for that purpose. The attempts she had ir ade to be religious without success, were, in her esteem, proofs equal to a demonstration, that all religions consisted of nothing but priestcraft, and that the precepts of Christianity were a collection of impossibilities which no one could perform,
This disorder of the mind affected herin such a manner, that she was no longer the same. There is so intimate a connexion between the soul and body, that one cannot suffer without the other. Miss Barnwell had hitherto enjoyed an extraordinary share of health : but now the roses withered in her cheeks; her sprightliness forsook her, and nothing was left but a melancholy dejection and lowness of spirits. The Miss Nevilles, and several of her young acquaintance, visited her, and endeavoured to remove that pensiveness which brooded upon her countenance; but the medicines which they used were unfit for her disease. Mr. Barnwell, whose very life was wrapped up in that of his daughter, was exceedingly alarmed, and called in the assistance of the faculty; but all they could prescribe wam of no use
Mrs. Worthington, the sister of Mrs. Barnwell, was at this time upon a visit at her brother-in-law's. Since the death of her husband, she had resided at a house which
she had at Islington. She was a very religious gentlewoman, of the Independent denomination. brought up in the church of England; but having mar. ried a dissenter, she chose to accompany her husband to the meeting; at first out of complaisance, but afterwards trom principle. Mrs. Worthington endeavoured for some time to find out the cause of her niece's disorder, without effect; but that which she had so long sought for in vain, she at last discovered in the following manner.She had oft observed her to walk for an hour or two together in a retired part of the garden; and as her anxious desire to become acquainted with, and if possible to remove the cause of her niece's indisposition, whatever it might be, cxcited her narrowly to watch every part of her conduct, she took an opportunity at one of these times to conceal herself behind a yew-hedge near the place, through a small interstice of which she could perceive that her mind was greatly agitated. After walking backward and forward for some time, at last she stopped and cried out, lifting up her hands to heaven, O thou great Unknown, illuminate, I beseech thee, the darkness of a worm, if I am not beneath thy notice.
Mrs. Worthington stole softly from the place, having now no doubt what was her niece's disorder. After much deliberation, she determined not to mention it to Mr. Barnwell, with whose character she was perfectly acquainted; nor did she think it prudent to say much at present to her niece. She had before proposed to Mr. Barnwell, that his daughter should spend the summer at her house, to which he had consented; and being now desirous to depart, that she might have an opportunity of probing her niece's wound, they set off in a few days for Islington.
On the road, Mrs. Worthington every now and then attempted to converse upon some religious subject; but Miss Barnwell declined talking as much as possible. Once indeed she said, And don't you think, Madam, that the penmen of the Scriptures were as liable to err as we are? No, my child, replied Mrs. Worthington ; they were influenced by the Spirit of the God of Truth, to speak those things only which are true. And pray, Madam, said she, how do you know that? You must con- : fess, my dear aunt, I have asked you a question that you
can by no means answer. What you have said may be your opinion, and I doubt not but it is; but another person may be of a contrary opinion, and who can tell which of the two opinions is right?
I have no cause tò wonder, Miranda, said her aunt, at the disorder of your mind, since you manifest yourself to be an unbeliever. Alas, I fear you are among the number of those, whose minds, like a troubled sea, cast up mire and dirt; and concerning whom God hath declared, that there is no peace to them. You seem to suppose, that the infidel has as good ground to believe Divine Revelation to be false, as I have to believe it to be true. Indeed you are sadly mistaken. I have as strong evidence of the truth of Revelation, as I have that I am now in your company; for though the evidence be not of the same kind, yet it is equally convincing. The Scriptures, to them who have an eye to see, and a taste to relish their excellency, carry conviction of their divine origin in almost every line. Like their Almighty Author, they need no testimony from man. I beg, therefore, if you have any objections to the truth of God's word, that you will let me hear them.
Indeed, Madam, replied the young lady, I scarcely know what I doubt, or what I believe. Of this only I am certain, that I am unhappy; and your proving to me the truth of Revelation, if you could do it, would only plunge me deeper into misery, or, if I may quote Scripture, torment me before the time. But I had rather say nothing about these things, the very mentioning of which heightens my distress.
Mrs. Worthington perceived the case of her niece to be much more deplorable than she had at first imagined. She said no more, however, at this time, since she rightly judged that it would be in vain to make use of any arguments, taken out of the Scriptures, to a person who did not believe those divine writings. The good woman wept, and offered up many ejaculatory prayers to God; for though she herself had no power to open the blind eyes, and to unstop the deaf ears, she well knew that with Him nothing is impossible.
Miss Barnwell had several friends and acquaintances in London, who came to visit her at her aunt's. They took ker with them to all the public places, and did every thing