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From Miss Barnwell to Mrs. Worthington.
THE day after my receipt of your kind letter, enclosing one from our dear Eusebia, for the contents of which we have reason to adore the kind providence of God, one of Mr. Neville's men came to our house with a letter for me from Miss Neville, and brought a single horsed chaise with him. The letter was to let me know she was very unwell, and to beg I would come over in the chaise she had sent, or, if I could not come directly, that I would let the man wait till I could. I was surprised. She and I had been as intimate as sisters, and a similarity of temper had rendered us .very agreeable to each other. But I thought that my corresponding with her sister was a sin never to be forgiven.
I should have first told you, Madam, that about a week past Mr. Friend and his wife and daughter came to pay usa visit. I say us, as if I were a part of the family, which is hardly the case. My mother sent word that I might come up into the parlour as usual. Upon receiving this message my resentment began to arisc, it being obvious she was afraid it should be known by Mr. Friend and his family in what manner I was treated. But I immediately perceived it was a temptation of Satan. Pride, thought I, does not become a servant of Jesus. I therefore put on as cheerful an appearance as I could, and went up stairs to Mrs. Friend and her daughter, Mr. Friend being gone to the river to my father, who was fishing.
When my father came home, he took no notice of my being in the parlour; and after our visitors were gone, I thought it would be imprudent to return to the kitchen, unless I was ordered to do so: therefore I continued where I was.
Mrs. Barnwell told one of the maids, that she did not think I would have come up, but she supposed I was pretty well humbled.
On receiving Miss Neville's letter, I gave it to my father, and asked him what his pleasure was. My pleasure, girl? said he, pray do as you have done hitherto ; that is, what you please.
I have never, Sir, replied I, to my knowledge, disobeyed you in my life, and I trust never shall, except where my soul would be endangered by my compliance.
My father laughed and said he was a Turk in this respect : he scarcely thought a woman had any soul. However, continued he, as Miss Neville has sent for you, and the family is out, I would advise you to go. I thanked him, and set off in less than an hour.
All the way I went I puzzled myself to no purpose in thinking what Miss Neville could want me for. When I arrived in the court-yard, she came out, and received me very kindly; but I perceived that her eyes were red with weeping. It immediately came into my mind that my dear Eusebia was dead, and I hastily asked her if that was not the case, She fell upon my neck and wept, and said, as soon as she could speak, O no, my dear sister is alive, and I thank God she is : it is I who am dead.
We went into the little parlour. I could not tell what to think. I was apprehensive that she was disordered in her senses. . She sat down by me, and took hold of my hand. Oh my dear friend, said she, what must I do? I fear the earth will open and swallow me up. What is the matter Miss Neville ? said I, pray tell me; and if I can alleviate your misery, nothing shall be wanting that I can do. O no, cried she, I fear you can do me no good. I have sinned against God; I have injured my dear sister. Miranda, she and you will be angels in heaven, praising God, when I shall be howling in hell!
I was exceedingly affected, and remembered the wormwood and the gall. Well may the wise man say, The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear? When the arrows of the Almighty wound a sinner, no one can allay the anguish but the great Physician of souls.
I endeavoured to pacify her, by showing that the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cleanse from all sin; and that it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that he came into the world to save sinners, of whom the apostle Paul, who had been the bloody persecutor of Christ in his followers, styled himself the chief. Her sin in persecuting her sister, I told her, was indeed exceedingly, heinous. Yes, she said, it was exactly parallel to Cain's persecuting Abel. If she had been suffered to proceed, I replied, it undoubtedly would have been so; but I hoped, that, as Ananias was sent to Saul for good, and Petor to Cornelius, so her sending for me was of God. I added, that my surprise and my joy were equally great, to find her sentiments so different from what they had been; and that as the Lord had stopped her in her career as he did Saul, I hoped she, like him, would be a monument of divine mercy.
I then desired her to tell me how this great change had been effected.
My dear sister, replied she, left all the letters which had passed between Mrs. Worthington, and you, and herself, together with the rough draughts of her own letters, tied together, in her closet, and did not take the key with her. As soon as I saw then, I determined to read them careful. ly, and to note down every error, and write an answer to it, which I thought would employ my leisure hours in my father's absence. I had not read many letters before I perceived, that in persecuting my sister, I had been persecut. ing an angel of God. The spirit that breathed in every line, convinced me that I had known nothing of Christianity but the name; and that I no more resembled the Son of God, than his murderers did. I determined to read them through'; in doing which I found that the sentiments of Mrs. Worthington and my sister and you were not only exactly alike, but that God had given you the gentleness and meekness of lambs, while I had the fierceness and cruelty of a wolf. Besides, after reading your correspondence, I had no doubt but it was the will of God, that Christians should learn their religion from the Scriptures, to which divine volumes I had been too great a stranger.
I told Miss Neville that this was not to be wondered'at; that it was not merely the case with the members of the church of Rome, but also with the generality of protestants, all unbeli evers being as igorant of the truth as she, and frequently possessing as much enmity against the children of God as she had manifested toward her sister. Indeed, madam, she feels so much compunction on account of her guilt, that I find it necessary to console her with the precious declarations of mercy made to sinners, in the gospel, lest she should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
On reading her sister's letter, she said she was glad that her brother had left a religion which encouraged its mem. bers to propagate it by fire and sword. O Miranda, added she, how infatuated, how blind have I been? Can any pro
position be plainer than this, that to be a Christian is to be like Christ; to have the same spirit and disposition with him ; to embrace those truths which he delivered ; and to be obedient to all his commands ? I should imagine, did I not know the contrary by sad experience, that no one could be so ignorant as to suppose that the merciful Redeemer permitted his followers to injure any person eitherin word or deed.
I replied, that she was undoubtedly right; and that although God did indeed compel sinners to come in that his house might be filled, it was not the compulsion of racks and gibbets. They are compelled, said I, by his Spirit and truth, to lay down their arms with which they fought against him, and to become his willing people, as I hope, my dear Maria, is now your own case.
Ah, Miss Barnwell, cried she, weeping, you have spoken many consoling things concerning the mercy of God, and I believe they are true, and that all those will receive the heavenly inheritance for whom it was intended; but my sins are so numerous and so aggravated, that I of all the persons in the world have the least reason to believe myself one of the elect.
That you are one of the elect, replied I, is what you are not commanded to believe, it not being the subject of Revelation. You are exhorted to believe that which is true, whether you believe it or not, namely, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the only Saviour of sinners.
I was convinced, cried she, before I had finished reading Mrs. Worthington's and your correspondence with my sister, that nothing can save a guilty sinner but the obedience and death of the Son of God; and that penances and pilgrimages, pardons and indulgences, the merit of good works, and every other foundation of hope, were false refuges.
You saw them in their proper colours, replied I. And protestants are no more at a loss than catholics in substituting something to depend upon in the room of the perfect work of the Son of God. How specious soever this something may seem, its intrinsic value is no greater than that of popish pardons and pilgrimages. The songs of the redeemed will be addressed to him that loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood. They will with one consent lay their crowns at his feet, and give him the honour of his achievements. To rob the Redeemer of
his glory, or to weaken our obligations to love him, is not our interest; since to love God perfectly, is that which will constitute the happiness of angels and saints to all eternity. The angels who kept their first estate will adore him who graciously preserved them from the apostacy of Satan, and his companions in rebellion ; and redeemed men will have to praise him for an act of kindness, in its nature somewhat similar, but of much greater magnitude. You tell me, Miss Neville, that you are convinced of this momentous truth and yet fear you are not one of the elect. If you sincerely believe the things related by the apostles concerning the Son of God, which by way of eminence are called the truth, your fears are now as groundless as your hopes were before presumptuous. The promises of the gospel, though not made to this or that person by name, are made to all who believe what God has revealed concerning his Son.
Very true, aswered she: but those who received the seed of the word, there was only one kind that continued in the truth and brought forth fruit. I replied, that this parable was spoken by our Saviour, that his children might be cautious, lest, a promise being left them of entering into his rest, any of them should even so much as seem to come short of it; and also to remind us that though we are saved by mere mercy, yet it is in such a way as will not dispense with our labouring to make our calling and election sure, or with keeping our bodies under lest we should be disapproved.
My friend, said she, I beg you will pray for me that I may lie at the footstool of the Redeemer, from which place I desire never more to remove. The displeasure of my father, I suppose, will be exceedingly great. I shall not wonder if he turn me and my dear brother and sister out of doors, and sell off all, and go to live in a catholic country with Signior Albino. But these are little things. Oh, how little, when compared with the loss of the divine favour! The sense I have already had of the divine displeasure is such, that I am convinced no evil will bear to be compared with the wrath of an offended God.
Since I wrote the above, Miss Neville, at my request, sent for our friend Thomas Livingstone, to whom the change which had taken place in her gave very great joy. The good man answered every question she put to him very pertinently. The principal were concerning election,