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every mercy in one: for if God be our God, we shall not want any good thing."...
My dear Miss Barnwell desires me to give an account of the manner in which my heavenly Father was pleased
to bring me out of that state of ignorance and unbelief, in , which I am convinced all mankind are born, and would also live and die, if not prevented by sovereign grace. I will endeavour to satisfy her. But let me in the first place acknowledge that she has proved to my satisfaction that Christ's church never has been, nor can be national ; and that now I no more wonder that the church of Rome has the marks and characters of the antichristian church, than I wonder at the degeneracy of human nature since the fall. : I told Thomas last night, that I thought the church of England has as few real Christians in it, as the church of Rome.
We have very little reason, said he, to expect the contrary. The church of England, as well as the church of Rome, is composed in general of nominal Christians. These will always be enemies to real Christianity, as we have been before them. But the church of England in this respect is greatly preferable to the Church of Rome. Through the kind providence of God, the civil power has chained her down in such a manner, that she can do but little hurt to the servants of Jesus Christ.
Be it so, Thomas, said I; yet if, according to my friend's letter, all national churches are antichristian, how can we account for God's permitting such men as Mr. Hervey and Mr. Romaine (of whom I have heard you speak well) to continue in the church of England ?
The arguments, replied he, which they use to justify their continuance in it, will not bear examination. Chris. tians cannot continue in Babylon the less, any more than in Babylon the great, without partaking of her sins. But the call to the people of God to come out of Babylon, implies that some of them will be found in her, even at the time of her overthrow, And notwithstanding they err in their conduct and reasonings, it is not to be doubted that the providence of God turns it to a good account, by bringing many persons in the church of England to the knowledge of the truth through their instrumentality.
In giving my friends a short history of my life, I must begin with inforining them, that from my being seven or eight years of age, I was sincere and zealous in the reli? gion wherein I was educated; and that whenever I coinpared the professors of it with Protestants, those who had departed from the only true church (as I termed it) sank very low in my esteem
The first time I was fully and feelingly convinced that there is a God who rules the world in righteousness, and that I was the object of his providential regard, my conviction was owing to the following incident. I was so good a horse-woman, that at seven or eight years of age my father durst trust me to ride my poney any where by myself. When I was about that age, being to visit the Miss Harcourts, who you know live seven miles from Thornton, in the pride of my heart I begged permission to go by myself. The next day, as I was coming back, my poney stumbled on the gallop, and threw me over its head. I was not hurt by the fall : the great misfortune was, the running away of my horse. I ran after him a full hour; but I might as well have attempted to catch a deer. Looking every way, and seeing no one, I tried again, but without success. At last, night approaching, I fell on my knees in an agony of distress, and besought the Father of mercies to have compassion on me. I then arose and went to my horse, which, to my great astonishment, did not start away as before, but stood as still as if he had been fastened to the ground.
This wonderful interposition of Providence made a great impression upon me. I was, however, as ignorant of God's method of saving sinners for the sake of the Redeemer, as if I had been a Mahometan: and I look upon this to be the common case of mankind in a state of nature. The Holy Spirit well represents, such persons as blind, notwithstanding they have eyes : and deaf, notwithstanding they have ears. I remember, when I was afterwards confirmed by a Romish bishop, I expected it would confer a great deal of holiness upon me; for I was very desirous of doing something that would recommend me to the divine favour.
The first time I suspected the excellence of the church of Rome was about two years past. My dear Miranda knows widow Privet, who keeps a grocer's shop in our parish. I accidently saw upon her counter the remains of a large folio, which she was using in wrapping up goods, Upon examination, I found it to be part of the third volume of Fox's Acts and Monuments. Having opened it where the examinations and the martyrdom of Mr. John Philpot are recorded, I was amazed at the scurrilous language used by bishop Bonner to the good man, and at the more than inhuman treatment which he received at the hands of that bloody prelate, as I then in my own mind termed him. I took the book into her parlour, and read the account of his examination, sufferings, and death; after which, you little think, my dear friends, what a state my mind was in. It occurred to my memory, that the apostles departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they wire counted worthy to 814ffer shame for his name ; and I recollected these words of Paul, If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his Falling upon my knees, I said, I beseech thee, O my God, that I may have the spirit and temper of thy dear Son, and that I may never have the spirit of those wolves in sheep's clothing. This good man appeared to be so dead to the world, and to have such a fervent love to God and to his people, and to be so patient and undaunted under his great sufferings in the bishop's coal-hole and other prisons, that my soul was united to him. I gave vent to my grief by shedding floods of tears, and implored my merciful Father, for the sake of his dear Son, to direct me in the way that I should go; for I became very jealous of a church which had so defiled itself with blood. I could not help observing, that this persecuting spirit was very different from that of our Lord; who did good to all; who prayed for his murderers; and who commanded his followers to bless them that cursed them, to do good to them that hated them, and to pray for them who despitefully used and persecuted them. The arguments likewise used by Mr. Philpot against Transubstantiation, gave such rude shocks to the sentiments in which I had been educated, that I was amazed at the foily and wickedness of his persecutors, who seemed to think it possible to alter a person's sentiments by cruel treatment. They might, said I to myself, have made this good man a hypocrite, if it had been in their power by violence to make him yield to their will; but when they had so far succeeded, they could have gone no further.
I went out of the parlour to Mrs. Privet, and offered to buy the part of the volume which was left. But she would have nothing for it, telling me that my father had given her that, with several other books, some time past, for shoppaper.
I cannot but admire the providence of God. My dear parent, I have no doubt, gave this book to Mrs. Privet, on purpose that we should not come to the sight of it; and the very method he took to prevent my seeing it, was the cause of its falling in my way.
I concealed it in a lumber garret, where I haye wept many an hour in reading it; after which I used to be much dissatisfied with the church of Rome, until, looking round among my Protestant acquaintance, and seeing no appearance of religion, I concluded that every thing was imperfect here below, and that the church of Rome, with all her faults, of which I had discovered no small number, was the only church in which there were any remains of Christianity. And I now think, that there is much more zeal among those of our communion, (if I may yet call it ours,) than among Protestants in general ; witness the number of both sexes who embrace the monastic life, and seclude themselves from the world, together with the anchorites, who in every age of the church have left society, that they might give themselves up to fasting and prayer. When my friends are kind enough to favour me with a letter, I-, beg they will give me their thoughts of the hermitical and monastic lives.
I know my father, the moment he understands that I have embraced what he will call heretical opinions, will either turn me out of doors, or insist upon my taking the veil: and it cannot be a great while before he knows it'; for I have determined, with the divine assistance, never more to attend at mass, which I am convinced is an idolatrous worship. You will easily believe, my dear friends, that mine would be a very disagreeable situation, were not my God to support me under the prospect of those evils which seem ready to overwhelm me. I ask no more than literally bread to eat, and raiment to put on; and how coarse they are, I trust will give me no concern. My hope is, that my heavenly Father, who feeds the ravens, and clothes the grass of the field, will not suffer me to want these absolutely necessary things.
I have just received a letter from St. Omer's, from my dear brother, wherein he tells us, that he meets with so
many unmeaning professions of friendship, so much in. sincerity, and so little real religion, that he is weary of the baunts of men, and frequently wishes that he lived in some desert, where he had no one to converse with but the Creator of all things. He desires his kind respects to several of his friends by name, among whom is Miss Barnwell. I wish my brother had just such a wife, and that through her instrumentality he might be brought to the knowledge of that salvation which is by Jesus Christ. To him, the great Shepherd of the sheep, I commend both my friends, and am, dear Madam,
Your affectionate friend,
From Mrs. Worthington to Miss Eusebia Neville.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
WE received your letter, and that of our friend Thomas. I am happy to find that I agree so exactly with that worthy man.
I recommend it to you, above all other things, to be very conversant with the Scriptures; since they are mines which can never be exhausted, wclls of salvation, which will never fail, and breasts of everlasting consolation. Nothing gives me a meaner opinion of any one's Christianity, except an irreligious life, than his running from place to place after this or that preacher, while his Bible is neglected.
I once asked a friend of mine what he thought to be the best mark of regeneration ?
I believe, Macam, replied he, I may venture to assert, that a love to the things revealed in the New Testament, is the first and best of all marks; because we thereby show that we love him who revealed them.
And pray, Sir, said I, what mark do you think to be next in point of importance ?
I must answer, said he, as our Lord did in another case,