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the covenant and the promise, that wherever the children of men were engaged in contemplating the token of peace, the great Spirit himself is also looking on it; and he dwelt with sweet satisfaction on those words; " And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will look upon it that I may remember.” He then called his little grandchildren who had hid themselves in terror at the voice of the thunder, pointed them to the bow of promise; and while they gazed with infant rapture on its rich and brightening hues, explained the nature of that covenant which is well ordered in all things and sure; whose base is an unbounded ocean of love, and the crown of whose arch is eternal glory.
His mind had been dwelling on the love of God, and he was insensibly led to that consummation of it, exhibited without the gate of Jerusalem, and on the hill of Calvary, where the Lord of life and glory expiated the sins of the poor Indian, and he knelt down and blessed God who had sent the missionary to teach the
way of salvation,
ON DETRACTION. PERHAPS there are not many faults of which it would be so difficult to convict a person, as the one that I have now chosen to comment upon. So many are the evasions, and so subtle the distinctions, which certain individuals are ready at all times to make in the words that they sometimes sneeringly utter, that they can almost invariably find some loop-hole through which to make their escape from the batteries which may be raised against them. “Oh! I know A. is a very worthy person : only look at his extremely humble, and very unassuming appearance-his extensive charity-his very polished manners—and then, his conversation, who ever knew any one so exactly particular as to every word he utters, so scrupulously careful of never adding one atom of ornament to the blunt truth; and so kindly anxious lest his poor weak brethren should fall into such an error.” These words, or words like these, I have at times heard uttered; but with manner and accent sufficiently peculiar, to mark plainly enough, that the “ extremely humble, and very unassuming appearance” was considered to be the result of hypocrisy : that by “extensive charity” was meant extreme parsimony : that his manners, instead of being very polished, were thought to be very unpolished : that
his great caution as to “every word” of his own, and of other persons' conversation, was, as regarded himself, the result of mere affectation; and, with respect to others, a complete interference.
And thus it is : thus do we, mortals who are continually erring ourselves, and who hope, one day, to find pity at the hand of the Great Judge of all; who, moreover, even stand in need of the greatest allowance from each other; instead of charitably making that allowance, find a pleasure, or rather call it a gratificationa senseless and unfeeling gratification, in traducing and ridiculing one another ; for it is assuredly nothing else: we may say that we are only joking, and may call our mirth innocent-our amusement harmless; but it cannot be truly looked upon as such, when it arises from so polluted a source; for satirical remarks of the kind I am discussing (if not of most other kinds too,) spring frequently from envy; not seldom from some lurking resentment for some unintentional wrong; and sometimes, if not often, from pure, or rather impure, malevolence itself.
Let it be remembered, then, that it is not only speaking directly against others that constitutes detraction. Any conversation unnecessary and uncalled for, tending to expose the failings or the faults of another, or to lessen his esteem in the eyes of those with whom we may converse, whether by means of direct censure, or of indirect satire-amounts in effect to the same offence—the same crime. And what are the fruits which this unsightly weed produces ?—for by its fruits it must be known. “ Discord, deceit, malignity”—are perhaps, the chief: but there are others too, which the time might fail me to enumerate : but these are certainly none of the most goodly : they are, on the contrary, such as we ought to shrink from, and to strive earnestly to shun. This will probably be universally allowed ; but it is the absence of thought, the want of sufficient reflection on the subject, of which I chiefly complain; for I can scarcely believe that many, bethinking themselves well of what they were about, could be found sufficiently mean (for mean it unquestionably is,) to persevere in such a
But let me entreat any one who may favour these lines with a perusal, and who is prone, perhaps almost thoughtlessly prone, to this degrading sin, to resolve henceforward to bear in mind its unchristian tendency; and to be, for the future, more careful how he dispenses his censorious remarks, his traducing satire. VOL. IX. 3rd SERIES.
C. P. O.
THE TEST. Few young persons were more interesting in their demeanour than Sophia Merton. She had lost her parents when she was about five years old, and was taken by her maternal aunt Netherton, and adopted as her daughter. Mrs. Netherton was the widow of an officer, who died in India, of a wound which he received at the storming of Seringapatam. His amiable, but deeply affected widow, was left with a comfortable independency, and although she could not be called affluent, yet she had something to give to the poor and needy; her hand was ever ready to promote the interests of religion, at home and abroad—amongst her own people, and in those countries of which Cowper says,
“ The sound of the church-going bell,
These vallies and rocks never heard;
Nor smil'd when a Sabbath appear’d." To an amiable natural temper, she united a highly cultivated mind; her attainments were not showy but substantial; her letters abounded with sentiments that indicated she was at once pious and intelligent. Indeed, Sophia Merton had reason for gratitude to God, that he had provided her with such a home and such a friend.
Mrs. Netherton determined that the education of Sophia should devolve upon herself, and therefore she began, as early as possible, to instruct her in the rudiments of the English language, and by degrees to lead her into the knowledge of French; and it is but justice to say, that the efforts of the preceptress were so well seconded by the prompt assiduity of the pupil, that, at the age of twelve, Sophia was a tolerable proficient, and as well informed and as far advanced in the usual routine of education, as most of the young persons of her age and circumstances.
But what Mrs. Netherton principally regarded was, the religious bearing of her adopted-one. She endeavoured to train up this child in the way she should go, and to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; not by undue severity—not by austere and harsh maxims or discipline, but by presenting to her view religion in its loveliness, and holiness in its beauties. Strongly did she enforce upon her mind the awful truth that, all human
nature was depraved ; that sin was the great malady that affected mankind-a malady that none but Christ could heal. O! how sweetly she described Jesus as the friend of sinners, the efficacy of his blood, the perfection of his righteousness! How eloquently did she plead with her, and urge her to seek an interest in his grace. “ Now, Sophia,” said she, “ now is the time to seek the Lord, and to give yourself up to his service; now, while your heart is yet tender, ere the rose fades from your cheek, and the bloom of youth departs; no delay, Sophia, now,' is the watch-word; all above and beneath, and around, say, “Now is the time to seek Him.'
Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.'
wise unto salvation, wise for eternity ; go to the church-yard, there you will see a grave; go to Calvary, there you will see a crucified Saviour; go to the scriptures, there you will see invitations and promises ; go to the sanctuary, there you will see a herald of salvation ; and what is their united language? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. “Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.'” · It was after one of those conversations that Sophia was observed to be more than usually thoughtful, and often in tears. She strove, however, to conceal her feeling, and even affected an air of liveliness that was by no means natural to her. “There is commonly a backwardness in youth to disclose their religious feelings, and at the very time that their friends are eager to know the state of their minds, and fearful that they are still under the power of sin, they are themselves the subjects of saving impressions, and anxiously desirous of some conversation with a pious friend.*" Mrs. Netherton longed to know the state of Sophia's mind, and tenderly interrogated her, as to her love to God, and her interest in the blessed Redeemer, but her inquiries elicited nothing that was conclusive. An alteration was very manifest in her temper and conduct, and especially under the word preached. She made memoranda of the sermons she heard, and delighted in reading works that were not only of a serious character, but had a tendency to promote the best feelings of the heart. The work of grace upon
* Domestic Portraiture, p. 184.
her mind could not long be concealed, and she at length determined to devote herself to God, and at the Lord's table united in singing,
“Let worldly minds the world pursue,
What are its charms to me?
But grace has set me free."
Hitherto, Sophia knew nothing of the snares and temptations of the world. In the house of Mrs. Netherton, she saw nothing but what was perfectly consistent with the profession of the gospel of Christ. No evil speaking was there allowed, no curious speculations were there entertained, no attempt at display was there sanctioned. The maxims enforced upon her attention were in accordance with the apostle's statement, 1 Cor. xiii. 4. “ Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” She did not suspect that in the professing world there were persons whose practice and doctrine were at variance; she knew not that serious episcopalians and serious dissenters, sometimes spoke of each other unkindly; she had been taught to love all who loved Christ in sincerity; and that there was in the Christian church, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism," and that every name was absorbed in that of Christian.
Her increasing knowledge of the world and of the church, brought to her view many anomalies, and made her fear where no fear was. She soon perceived that “they are not all Israel which are of Israel.” She heard of bickerings among Christians, and divisions in churches; she saw much that grieved ber-much that tried her faith ; but while she put the question, “Can these be Christians?” she seemed to hear a voice which said, “What is that 10 thee, follow thou me;" that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, may be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
These things prepared the way for a greater and severer test of her love to Christ than she had previously experienced. She had now arrived at an important period of life. Highly accomplished, intelligent, pious, affable, and good tempered, her society was prized by all, and her affections eagerly sought after, particularly by a young gentleman, the son of a person of fortune, in the