« AnteriorContinuar »
very mention of such rigid and apparently useless self-denial, is sufficient to fill them with disgust, or hopelessness. I have seen these results times unnumbered, and lamented it deeply; but what can you do? There's no convincing others of their prejudices; there's no persuading them to contemplate the lovely, cheerful, rejoicing view of a salvation offered to the sinner ' without money and without price.' No! the tempted being, so inert, so powerless, must find strength to renounce his heart-cleavings; he must have power to put away all his sins; he must have resolution to undergo every species of trial, and then he may go to Christ. But when he is there he must shun all his former associates; he must wear the solemn deportment of his new companions ; he must preserve a rigid self-denying manner; he must fall into the external peculiarities prescribed to him, or become liable to be censured or rejected as inconsistent, worldly-minded, fallen from grace. I have observed persons conforming with all scrupulosity to these regulations, who showed nothing of that spirit of Jove and charity which is above all outward observance; there was the tithing of the mint, anise, and cummin' while weightier matters of judgment were passed aside. These persons were well received by those whom it was their principal aim to imitate, who seeing the outward demeanour consistent as they term it, concluded (perhaps charitably enough) that nothing was wanting ; while the heart was dead and barren in the service of Christ, and the old man showing his corrupt head, because the Lord of Life was not appealed to for its subjugation, nor his strength relied on for victory. God forbid, that in mentioning such cases, I should indulge in any thing like want of brotherly love. I merely bring forward these instances to prove the pernicious effects of a system so widely diffused among the religious world, and so injurious in its consequences. I know many persons so influenced by the example of others, that though secretly condemning, and in heart revolting from the bondage, they are nevertheless so held in subjection, that they have neither the courage nor the ability to avow their opinions, nor to free themselves from the galling yoke. They complain that they are made to act as hypocrites; that they are constrained to assume an unnatural manner, wholly repulsive to their feelings."
Mr. Conroy interrupted Mr. Harding by inquiring what necessity was laid upon the consciences of persons to assume a character
not natural to them ? and why any one loving truth and uprightness should think deception or acting a part justifiable?
Mr. Harding explained, that “partly from timidity, partly from distrust of their own judgments, persons were often led to adopt a hesitating or weak line of conduct; they could form a clear opinion of what was lacking in the views of others, but had neither the resolution nor the boldness to think and act independently for themselves; they waited for some one to lead the way, or they submitted to their bondage under the depressing idea that perhaps such discipline was good for them. Hence,” he added, “that deadness of spirit, that want of filial confidence, that slavery of fear, with which an adopted child of heaven has nothing to do."
Mary listened to this conversation with deep interest; it was quite what she had wished to hear. The opinions Mr. Harding avowed were altogether in unison with her own feelings, but (as we have said before) from want of self-confidence, and a dread of presumption in adopting and owning to sentiments at variance with those of many experienced Christians, she had been withheld from publicly avowing them.
Mr. Conroy sat watching the countenance of his niece, while she listened to the discussion; at
length, he said, “Mr. Harding, there sits a convert to your opinions, in the person of my niece ! I have quietly been observing her uneasy state of mind for some days past. She has not enough of the littleness of feeling which can contract itself into one narrow circle. She finds it will not do, and she is at this present moment quite ready to assume a very bold look-work herself up into a most determined spirit-avow her opinions, and defy the whole set of mortificationists.”
Mary felt annoyed at her uncle's ludicrous way of speaking, but she had no hesitation in confessing that his summary of her thoughts was not altogether an erroneous one.
The conversation terminated here, for Mr. Harding had business to attend to with his steward. Mr. Conroy and Mary proposed ordering the horses about twelve o'clock. They could purchase the books they wanted to send into Devon, and might be able to find out where old Sally Nash resided, the sister of a poor woman living in the same village with Mary's family.
NOW THANKS BE UNTO GOD, WHICH ALWAYS CAUSETH US
TO TRIUMPH IN CHRIST.'-2 Cor. ii. 14.
The morning was a fine one, the clouds were moving on in every beauty of form, and moderating the sun's heat, which at that season is so powerful. Mary having received a summons for an inviting excursion, mounted her horse with a light heart. She felt cheered and invigoráted by Mr. Harding's conversation. She had carried her doubts, her fears, her sorrows, to the throne of grace. She had pleaded in the name of Him who cleanseth from all sin. She had endeavoured to go to her heavenly Father under a sense of filial gratitude. She desired to lay all her infirmities, trials, temptations, before Him, trusting to His arm to remove them from her. She had been dwelling on her own helplessness, worthlessness, emptiness; and as her