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long known your father; he not orly has no taste for di. vine things, but he is enmity against them."
I thought, Madam, replied Miss Earnwell that you had this in view : but God is able to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, as well as the heart of the children to the fathers.
He can do every thing, answered Mrs. Worthington; but in the mean time there will be need of great prudence on your part, as well as of a becoming resolution. You must join the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove. You are not, I trust, the same person you were ; old things are passed away, and all things are become new; yet your father will expect you to behave as you have always done. I don't say that every amusement is inconsistent with Christianity; but this I say, that cvery thing is unlawful which we cannot do to the glory of God. Our pleasures, as well as every other thing we engage in, we should endeavour to make subservient to our eternal interest. How innocent, for instance, is this walk, as well as pleasant and healthful! How much is it to be preferred to those guilty pleasures, by which thousands are ruining their health and fortunes! Here cvery creature of God, animate and inanimate, is teaching some useful lesson to those who are disposed to learn. That poor, despised ass, the poverty of whose owner obliges him to feed by the way-side, on thistles and other weeds, reminds us of the meek and lowly Son of God, riding upon this animal, and entering triumphantly into Jerusalem amid the acclamations of his followers ; which was a prelude to his entering upon his heavenly inheri. lance by the ignominious death of the cross. The useful, Karmless sheep, whose fesh feeds us, and whose fleece, secures us from the cold, puts me in mind of the Saviour of the world, who was led as a sheep to the slaughter: while the meek and innocent lambs call to my remem brance the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. The noble, well-proportioned horse, I consideras the gift of God, to ease our labour, and to bear part of our curse. The cow I behold with pleasure and
ratitude. When I meet those useful creatures in an cvening returning to their owners, their breath sweet as the sose, and their udders distended with balmy nectar, I view them as one of the kindest gifts of Proyidence; since here
the poor have provided for them a cheap, salubrious, and delicious repast : a repast, how infinitely superior to costly dainties, contrived with a view to gratify a depraved appetite ; in which gratification too often consists the sad pre-eminence of riches. Wherever we are, we cannot look around us without perceiying the goodness and munificence of the great Creator; of that immense Being, who is good to all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works. Those little birds, though they have neither storehouse nor barn, are liberally provided for by an unseen hand. One would be almost tempted to think that they were sensible of the goodness of him who feeds them, and that they were warbling songs of praise. At least, they teach us, my dear, to bless that God, who hitherto has helped us, and who is the author of all our mercies The trees, also, the succulent herbage, and the hills and vallies standing thick with corn, proclaim that every creature is subject to the will of Jehovah; otherwise, what is in itself so unlikely to provide food for man and beast as the clods of the valley, the dirt that we trample under our feet? Contemplations like these are not only innocent, but exquisite gratifications : they refresh the spirits, gladden the heart, and leave no sting behind them.
I desire, Madam, said Miss Barnwell, to engage in nothing wherein I cannot pray for and expect the divine blessing. As Jesus is all my salvation, so may a conformity to him be my earnest desire.. in
It is your reasonable service, my child, replied Mrs. Worthington : nor indeed is there any other medium, by which we can distinguish a real faith from one that is counterfeit or nominal.
Thus did this excellent lady take every opportunity to establish her neice in the great truths of the gospel ; and the mind of this young lady, like that of Lydia, was opened and influenced to receive the good seed of the word; so that she soon made a great proficiency in divine knowledge.
Mr. Barnwell kept a noble house, and was visited by the best company, as they would be termed by the world. But his daughter had so far lost her inclination for things of this kind, that she frequently told her aunt there was not any thing which she dreaded equally to returning home. While she was meditating on the difficulties she had to encounter, her father arrived in town, with an intention to take his passage in the first ship that should sail for Jamaica. The overseer of his estate in that island being dead, his presence was necessary, that he might superintend his affairs.
After waiting in London about a week, he embarked in a vessel, the captain of which was his intimate friend. This sudden departure of a father whom she tenderly loved, was a great grief to Miranda. But her aunt consoled her', by observing, that she looked upon it as a kind providence; since, before his return, she hoped she would be better established in the faith, and more able to cope with those difficulties which she had reason to expect would be the result of her change of sentiment.
As Mr. Barnwell was unable to conjecture how long he would be absent, he dismissed all his servants, except the housekeeper, gardener, and groom, and left his plate at the house of Mr. Pink, an acquaintance of his, who lived in the parish. He desired his daughter to continue with her aunt till his return. He remarked, that she had not recovered her vivacity ; but this he imputed to some remains of her disorder : for it was impossible that Mr. Barnwell should conceive, stranger as he was to real religion, that any one should be cheerful and happy, if he were not gay, brisk, and merry.
Miss Barnwell spent her time at her needle, in reading the Holy Scriptures, in attending upon divine worship, and in conversing with her aunt, who was a lady of an excellent understanding.
Of all her acquaintance in the country, there were none whom she esteemed equally to the Miss Nevilles : indeed their regard for each other was sincere ; and as they lived but four miles asunder, and the road was good, they were frequently together. From these young ladies she received several letters upon common-place subjects, and about the news of the day, to which she returned answers of a similar kind. But when she had been with her aunt about nine months, she' ventured to touch on a religious subject. The following is an extract from her letter :
“You tell me the country is mopish and melancholy without me. But indeed, ladies, if you expect that kind of pleasure in my company which you formerly experienced, you will be mistaken. I am no longer the Miranda Barnwell I was. Eternity, my dear friends, is coming on with hasty steps, to take place of time : our fleeting moments, therefore, ought to be better employed than in vain amusements. I pray that my dear young friends may escape the wrath to come; and that they may be convinced, that nothing can recommend them to the divine favour, but the obedience and sufferings of the Redeemer ; since they only are the righteousness, in which a guilty sinner can appear at the awful tribunal of God with comfort. I too well know, that you will think it impertinent in me to undertake to teach you in things of this nature; but I should think any longer silence inexcusable in the sight of God: and henceforth it is He whom I intend first and chiefly to please.
“The singular respect I have for you, ladies, induces me to pray the Father of mercies, that you may be led to examine upon what your hope of eternal life is founded. Believe me, my dear friends, or rather believe the word of God, that it is not a penance prescribed, nor an absolution pronounced, either by a Catholic or Protestant priest, which can take away sins ; that can only be effected by the blood of Jesus Christ.".
From Miss Eusebia Neville to Miss Barnwell.
MY DEAR MISS BARNWELL,
WE received your kind letter, the conclusion of which as much surprised me, as it displeased my sister. I be. lieve I may safely confess to my friend, that she and I are so far agreed as to have one hope of eternal life. Yes, my dear Miranda, I am, through the mercy of God, fully convinced, that nothing can recommend me to the divine favour but the obedience and atonement of the Redeemer. I perceive that this truth is the great outline of the Old and New Testament, hewever it may be rejected by the wise and prudent of this world. I beg you will pray for me, that I may be led into all truth by the Holy Spirit, and that fortitude and resolution may be given me. I feel mye self to be very weak; and should utterly despair, did I not hope and trust that the grace of Christ will prove sufficient: for me, and that his strength will be made perfect in my weakness. If my brother, my dear brother, were at home, I could unbosom myself to him; but I dare not take that liberty with my sister, who is extremely violent zgainst every sentiment which she esteems heretical. The same prejudice was in me: but now I believe, that no opinion ought either to be embraced or rejected, because it is held by this or that party.
I have now no doubt that there are many Christians among Protestants, although formerly I should have considered any one as a heretic who had asserted it. Having been acquainted with Protestants of a very bad kind, when I compared their lives with that strictness and zeal for God which were visible in my own family, you will not wonder that I preferred our own religion to yours. I can however perceive, notwithstanding all this strictness in the repetition of prayers, in fasting, in almsgiving, and in every thing enjoined by the church, in which my honoured parent is unwearied, that yet something is wanting. Yes, Miranda, through the mercy of God, I have discovered, that a person may give all his goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burned, and yet be destitute of that true charity, or love to God, which is essential to religion. And not
only so, but the love of God itself has many counterfeits. I * used to derive my notions concerning God and Christ from
pictures and images, endeavouring to work up my mind to a love and veneration of them as thereby represented. But I thank the Father of mercies, that I now perceive my error, and am convinced that the works and the word of God are the only true representation of the invisible Jehovah. The love of God's mind and will revealed to the children of men, is the genuine love of God; and the love of what Christ said and did, and of what he is now doing, is the love of Christ.--I spoke in this manner some time past to my sister; and she thinking it a reflection on images, pronounced it to be heresy. By this argument I have been frequently confuted. I am indeed a coward. I don't know how I could be a martyr for Christ: but my hope is, that my God will give me strength equal to my trials.