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ith their power to make her stay agreeable. Dit the k R · of a hereafter was gall and wormwood in these cups of pleasure. Whatever infidels may boast of, they have not half the assurance of the falsity of Revelation to which they pretend; they labour indeed to disbelieve its authenticity, yet are distressed with ten thousand fears lest, after all, it should be true. This was exactly the case of this young lady. She would have been , thankful to beg her bread from door to door her whole lifetime, could she have had the consolation of being certain that there was no God--110 Christ-no hereafter. Her aunt took every opportunity to lay before her the various evidences of the truth of the Christian religion, but without effect; since it is with great difficulty we are brought to believe that to be true, which we wish to be false. Besides, she had already made so many unsuccessful attempts to be a Christian, that she looked upon it as a fruitless undertaking; for what the Holy Spirit has declared, will ever be found true upon trial, that when the Ethiopian can change his skin, and the leopard his spots, then they also who have been accustomed to do evil, may learn to do‘good. This lady did not yet understand, that the tree must be first made good before it can produce good fruit. The true state of her case was this. Like many others, she had endeavoured to establish her own righteousness; which while she was doing, God graciously laid the reins on her neck, and left her in some measure to herself, that she might perceive her natural depravity, and her inability to keep his law.
Several weeks elapsed without any alteration in her for the better. At length one night, after she had retired to her chamber, she took out of her pocket a volume of plays, as she thought, to pass away the time before she went to bed, as she was not disposed for sleep; but having laid down her book in the kitchen, she had, through mistake, taken up a volume of sermons of the same size, which belonged to one of the maids. Curiosity led her to look at the titles of the sermons, and at the texts from which they were preached ; and her attention was attracted by one from these words: (Rom. iii. 20.) Therefore by the deedo of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight for by the law is the knowledge of sin. She chose to read this sermon, because she could not conceive how a person
could be justified any otherwise than by obeying God's righteous law. The author began by showing, that justification is a law-term, and is applied to those, who, being tried by the laws of their country, are found innocent of the crimes laid to their charge ; and that in this sense no sinner can be justified at God's righteous bar, because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. , His second observation was, that all those whom God justifies, or proclaims righteous, must necessarily be sinners and ungodly persons, because the law condemns all the posterity of Adam, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world nịay become guilty before God. He proceeded to show, that the whole scope of Divine Revelation is, that God has sent hiey Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and both condemned and punished sin in his flesh, that every sinner, whose understanding the Holy Spirit has opened to believe cordially this report, may be justified from all things from which he could not be justified by the law, which, as the apostle observes in the text, can do nothing more than discover to us our transgressions.
This was a time never to be forgotten. This young lady now beheld such a glory in the whole plan of salvation by Jesus Christ, that she could have truly said with the apostle Peter, I believe and am sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God; or with Nathaniel, Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. The evidence of the truth of Christianity, like an overflowing de luge, bore away every doubt. Before, she had seen no form nor comeliness in Christ that she should desire him; and the glorious gospel of his grace and mercy to guilty sinners, had been a sealed book to her. In her former attempts to please God, the blood of Christ had made no part of her religion; or at most had been considered only as an auxiliary. But now, the language of her soul was like that of Paul, Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the ! excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my lord : and her utmost wish, like that of the apostle, was to be found in him, not having her own righteousness. It is impossible to describe her joy, for it was unspeakable. She appeared to herself as one snatched from the gates of hell, and set at the gates of heaven: and had not this exuberant transport vented itself in floods of tears, it would probably have dissolyed her frame. She had such magnificent views
of the fulness and freeness of redemption, that if the sins of the whole human race had centered in her own person, she would have considered the blood of Christ as a sufficient atonement for them all. Prayer and praise became her constant employ, whether she was at home or abroad, asleep or awake.
Mrs. WVorthington soon perceived the great change which had taken place in the mind of her niece; for such things will soon manifest themselves, even though we should do all in our power to keep them secret. The good lady exceedingly rejoiced, and did not forget to return thanks to God for the answer he had given to her prayers. She gave her many excellent instructions, and found her employment in reading some of the best authors on divine subjects. She also took her to hear several gospel preachers of different denominations, opportunities of this kind offering themselves almost every day in the week; so that she lost in a little time all the bigotry in which she had been educated. She closely applied herself to study the grounds of the Reformation from Popery, as well as the reasons for dissenting from the Church of England, with which reasons she was fully satisfied. Notwithstanding she knew how much her father abhorred all those who left the church, and turned Presbyterians, by which common name of reproach he called all Dissenters, yet she determined to have one thing only in view, nameİy, to follow the dictates of her conscience so far as it was enlightened by Divine Revelation, and to leave the event with God; for like the apostle Paul, she did not count her life dear unto herself, so that she might finish her course with joy. She did not conceive that any evil could be equal to a state of unbelief and alienation from God, haying had dreadful experience of what Solomon had in view when he said, The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit wło can hear?
Mrs. Worthington, walking one day with her niece in the fields, said to her, I form great hopes, my dear Miranda, that yours will prove a real conversion to God: I say real; for conversion, like other excellent things, has its counterfeits. Many followed Christ, concerning whom we read, that they went back, and walked no more with him, In the parable of the sower, likewise, some are represented as receiving the word with joy, who yet endured but à
while. I will not however conceal from you, that they did not understand the word which they pretended to believe. Our Lord himself assigns this as the reason of their apostacy. They manifested their ignorance and unbelief, when their present ease, the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, in a time of trial, outweighed in their judgment the things of eternity. Temptations of this kind, however, are the lot of every Christian, that the trial of our faith may be much more precious than of gold that perisheth.
Nothing, Madam, replied Miss Barnwell, has so much allayed my happiness, as the fear of relapsing into my former unbelief: not even death itself would be half so dreadful.
I am glad to hear it, said Mrs. Worthington ; I trust this is that childlike fear, which is implanted in the breasts of all who are born from above, and which is intended by the Divine Donor to be a preservative in time of danger. Every creature of God has some defence against its enemies. The majestic lion, and the timid hare, are alike provided for by their beneficent Creator : to the one he has given strength and courage ; to the other swiftness and fear. As, the fear therefore of the hare is its security, so God has put his fear into the hearts of his children, that they may not depart from him. The martyrs of Jesus were no fonder of sufferings and death than other mortals. They only chose racks and gibbets, the teeth of wild beasts, and the burning of their bodies as smaller evils. The favour of God on the one hand, and his just displeasure on the other, outweighed every other consideration.
I pray, said Miranda, that God may number me among his children, and that I may endure to the end. - It is my earnest desire, replied her aunt, that that may be the case. In the meantime I would have you observe, that the manner of a person's conversion weighs nothing with me. If God in his mercy bring a poor sinner unfeignedly to believe the gospel, because he perceives the finger of God in every line; if the gospel be to him a precious gospel, and Christ a precious Christ; the manner in which those sentiments are conveyed by the Spirit of God cannot be improper. Some are led to sit at the feet of Jesus by slow and almost imperceptible degrees; whilst others, like you, are brought to heaven by the gates
of hell. Yet the means and the end are the same in boti. and only differ in degree; since all who are born from above, understand and approve the Scriptures as they speak of Christ. Salvation by one who was crucified, is no longer disregarded, or esteemed as foolishness; but it is accounted by them the power of God, and the wisdom of God. They are renewed in knowledge, after the image of him who created them : they approve of the things which he approves, and hate the things which he hates. They take his yoke upon them; and are determined, by his assistance, to make his revealed will, so far as they understand it, the rule of their faith and practice.
O that I may be enabled, said this young lady, to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, through good report, and through evil report! In his favour only there is life. He is the ark of my rest, and unto him I cannot but return; since, like Noah's dove, I can find no place upon earth which is not overflowed by the curse.
Yes, my dear, replied Mrs. Worthington, thorns and thistles, troubles and disappointments, is it bringing forth to all its children; but to us it is an enemy's country, a. parched wilderness, and a barren desert. Nevertheless, he who hath delivered us from spiritual Egypt, will guide and guard us on every side; he will cause us to drink of the smitten rock, and to feed upon the true bread which came down from heaven. These things were types or shadows of the superior blessings which God's people were to enjoy under the gospel dispensation. The Lord of hosts will fight all our battles for us, as he did for the Israelites, and will make us more than conquerors through him that loved us. Let every Christian, therefore, cry out with Moses, If thy presence go not with us, take us not up hence.--I foresee, my dear Miranda, that you will have many difficulties to encounter, but remember, that we can both do and suffer all things through Christ strengthening us. After the conflict is over, let us join the sweet singer of Israel in songs of praise to him who smote great kings, for his mercy endureth for ever. The world and Satan, like the enemies of the Israelites, will endeavour to obstruct our passage to the heavenly Canaan ; and we shall be able to gain a victory over them, only through the same Jehovah, who is the Captain of our salvation. I have