Page images

let the voice of parents, or, in the want of them, of curiosity may have no nourishment. Let it have some judicious friend, be solicited; and let them its fair weight among the events of life. Balance advance not a step further until they have the sanc- against its fascinations, its responsibility, and tion of those whose authority they are bound to re- against its promises of happiness the hazards to spect, and possess an exact understanding on the which it exposes that happiness. Let there be sufground of their intercourse. If these proprieties ficient familiarity on the subject between the parent of conduct are not thought of by the suitor, there and child, that she may feel the way to it accessible is much the greater need that they should be re- whenever she may desire to use it. Let her just garded by the person solicited.

sentiments be approved, her extravagant ones quaWhere the judgment has once decided, be se- lified; and her every sentiment, how foolish and verely jealous of any after-pleading of feeling. trivial soever, be sure of a patient hearing, and a From no loose ideas of honorable intentions-suit- sympathizing heart. able connection–difficulty of resisting-sentiments Particularly it is of moment that this confidenof humanity-invincibility of passion-or a thou- tial intercourse should not be postponed to too late sand other imaginings—allow yourself to hesitate a period; the young mind has often thought and or to trifle. You are on enchanted ground. The felt much on the subject before the guiding hand inclination that leads you there is likely to leave has directed it to those reflections which may fortify you there till you are fascinated and ensnared. In it in the hour of attack. It is needless to say it has such temptation your safety is in flight, and the been premature; then its affectionate guardian fight is for your life! Avoid it, pass not by it, must condescend to be premature likewise. Wisturn from it, and pass away.” Let not the thoughts dom will always prefer the means of prevention to revert to the forbidden object. There are some ob- those of cure; but in this case they have a stronger jects, which, like the Geysers of Iceland, while we claim to preference than in almost any other. The admire them, scald us.

remedy may be applied to the wounded spirit with It must be conceded, that the kindest parents, in hope ; but the lessons of wisdom, falling on a heart the very exercise of their kindness, sometimes err still at rest, shall distil as the dew, and reward the in the treatment of this delicate subject. From the strongest confidence. manner in which they have too often seen it held In conclusion, what shall be said of those young up to young and innocent minds, as the end and persons who, bounding fresh on the novel scenes of scope of all education, of all hope, and of all ef- life, and intent only on their own gratification, fort, they have turned away in disgust

, and have trouble the peace of many a happy spirit, by sucnot stopped till they arrived in the opposite extreme. cessively offering such atientions as notbing could They have whollý proscribed the subject in con- justify but their continuance and rightful consumversation ; they have exercised a visible jealousy 'mation ? The least that can be said is, that such a over erery thing that led to it, without assigning course begins without honor, and ends without satheir reasons; and if the feelings connected with it tisfaction. Is it to be pleaded that the intentions have, in general life, at any time, risen to their were honorable, that no promise was violated, and view, they have submitted them, at once, either to that the most that can be censured is thoughtlessridicule or to condemnation.

ness? Let the plea have all the weight it deserves; Now, there may be much more of good principle but let it be remembered, however, that many a proand feeling in the one case than the other; but it mise may be made, such as heaven will sanction, may be doubted whether, in their consequences, and every honest mind consider binding, where not both are not equally injurious. Certainly the de-a line is written-not a word uttered. If honorable termined avoidance of ihe subject cannot prepare intentions are to be urged, let it be understood that the young and unsuspicious to meet it with pru- these only exist as they are sustained by honorable dence and wisdom; and the slightest knowledge of conduct; and that he who can pay flattering attenthe human heart will convince us that such a mode tions to one person which he would not to any other is not likely to exclude it from the thoughts. To person in like circumstances, and carelessly transfer our nature, alas! the forbidden fruit is ever the them to a second, may indeed possess good princimost inviting.

ples, but in this instance is not actuated by them. It will be well, too, is, when the hour of trial Can it be endured, that on so serious a subject comes, such a method do not dispose our child to utter thoughtlessness is to be pleaded in extenuawith hold her confidence. She would, no doubt, tion ? Because I judge myself secure, am I to be violate her duty in doing so; but if, 'with every careless of the danger of another ? Because I can thing to encourage her, there is so much to be over-trifle, am I to trifle on, indifferent 10 the wounds 1 come before she can commit her secret thoughts to may probably inflict on a mind less gross and more her dearest friend, what must be the power of filial susceptible than my own? Thoughtlessness! Indevotion to enable' her to approach a subject which consideration! Let him who, in reckless inconsihas always been made inaccessible, and to reveal deration, wantonly wounds a tender and innocent sentiments which have never been regarded with spirit, and eventually seeks his connubial happiness sympathy? Is it wonderful if, under such circum- elsewhere, enjoy it as he may! There is a Hand stances, the young heart has shrunk from its duty above him that registers in fearful characters the for the first time, and thus lost, in its deepest need, deed of folly and of negligence. And 0, if there the advice and confidence of the most natural and be any sorrow natural to our suffering state that valuable of friends?

makes its way direct to heaven, it must be that pure, May not the better course be, in this case, as it is deep, unutterable sorrow of the virgin heart, which allowed to be in almost every other, that which is scorns to tarry on earth, and which arises from inmost direct and open ? Since the thoughts will run sincere professions and inconstant attachments! in this direction, more or less, is it not better to provide them with a safe and proper channel, rather than, by vainly resisting their progress, to cause a

CHAPTER VII. most dangerous accumulation ? Let not the sub

1810-1811. ject become a topic of usual discourse; but let this be avoided, not by a formal probibition, but by the SENSIBILITY has had her honors done by a thougeneral tone of parental authority and character. sand hands, and her praises sung by a thousand On the fit occasion, let it be met with candor and voices. With her admiring volaries she is the subseriousness. Let it be stripped of all mystery, that stance of every virtue, and the soul of every grace.


Were such expressions simply extravagant, they , kept her unwillingly awake to a sense of her exmight pass; but as they are hurtful, it is necessary posure and unhappiness. to correct them. Let her young and fond admirers Towards the close of the year, Martha revealed know, then, that sensibility is a gift, like some we her distress to me, most carefully avoiding any reread of in Arabian story, of doubtful character, and mark which might have led me to what she was which will benefit or injure us as it is used. As the determined to conceal. We had not been much tohandmaid of an enlightened mind, she bears the gether since we parted at B-; and the contrast key which commands the richest treasures of earth of her present with her former appearance struck and heaven; as the mistress of a weak and enslaved me paintully. Her feverish hand, her flushed comjudgment, she “ shows the path and leads the way" plexion, and her agitated frame told me that disto chambers of vexation, anguish, and despair. ease had renewed its influence; and that her mind Without sensibility there can be no enjoyment; was robbed of that serene joy which possessed it so without something more and better, our very enjoy- fully, when it was our privilege to hold daily and ments are poisonous.

free communion. I have no distinct recollections An excess of sensibility was the weakness of of our converse on this occasion; but the substance Martha's character; but she was not yet aware of of it is on my memory, and as far as it is to my it. Already we have seen something of its unfa- purpose, I shall bring it under notice. vorable and dangerous influence, and we must con- It will immediately be seen, that in giving advice tinue to trace it in more serious connections. to my sister, I was in similar circumstances with

The distress of the heart is not limited to place the medical attendant prescribing for a patient who or subject; wherever it may spring, it spreads itself purposely withholds one-half of his case, and yet over the whole soul, and all its engagements. Hap- expects relief. I was likewise discouraged by my py as Martha had recently been in her religious en limited acquaintance with the changes and trials of joyments, her happiness was deeply affected by the Christian experience. The most I could do was, present state of her mind. She could nu longer en- not to apply the best remedies with the greatest skill, gage in the most sacred exercises with her accus- but to apply, with a gentle hand, those remedies iomed pleasure. She had lost her earnestness in which I had lately found effectual to my own healprayer, her quietude in meditation, her joy in the ing. house of God, and her elasticity in performing the I soon perceived that Martha's chief sorrow arose works of love and mercy. Her thoughts were dis- from the serious doubts which possessed her on the tracted; her will was fluctuating; her imagination reality of her religious professions. She had inwas wayward and rebellious; and her heart was cautiously mingled her hopes with her enjoyments; restless. The restlessness of her spirit was commu- and now that these were gone, she was tempted to nicated to every service of the closet and the sanc- think nothing was left; that she had been deceived tuary, and she became growingly weary of exer- herself, and had deceived others; and that her relicises which her conscience could not approve, and gion had been superficial and transitory as the by which her mind was not tranquillized.

morning cloud, which passes away and is seen no So painful a state of mind was dangerously ag- more. gravated by Martha's susceptibility. This temper Without offering any distinctions between the obscured the lights that still remained on her path, joys that are false and those that are real and Scrip, and made the darkness such as cotild be felt. It ex iural, which might have perplexed her, I attempted aggerated the dangers of her situation, and discou- at once to show that her present desponding concluraged her from seeking deliverance. It magnified sions were not authorized by her existing state of the character of her offences, and forbade her to mind. To accomplish this object, it was my conlift her hands for pardon. It debilitated her resolu- cern to illustrate the Christian course as a course tions, resisted her hopes, and multiplied her sorrows. of inward warlare. I saw that, with most young It made what was perplexed, inexplicable; what disciples, Martha, while she admitted the doctrine was gloomy, terrible; what was bad, worse. This of a continued conflict in the Christian life, had not very temper, which in her happy moments had dis- fully realized it to herself. When, therefore, this posed her to dwell unduly on the Divine mercy, portion of her creed was reduced to experimental now, when its consolations were wanting, presented certainty, her faith and hope were unsettled; she to her only distorted and hopeless images of the was led to imagine that some trial had happened to Divine justice.

her which was not cominon to the saints. In this dark and dreary day of the soul, ignorant I insisted that her case was not peculiar, but comas she was of the Christian conflict, assailed by a mon to the people of God; that conflict was not an condemning conscience, and weakened and depress- accident of Christian life, but essential to it; that ed by her constitutional infirmity, Martha's hope it helonged not to the commencement of this life, had perished had it been of human mould, or sus- but that it ran through every stage of it; that it was tained by human energy. But her hope was divine not a conflict merely with the world, with the powand Scriptural. It was cast down, but not destroy- ers of darkness, or with the disorderly appetites of ed. It was often conquered, but it continued io re- the body, but that it was a deep inward, unceasing sist. The winds blew against it, the rains fell upon warfare against ourselres-our original and strong, it, the floods swelled and raged about it; but it re- ly-rooted principles, desires, and propensities. I mained—for it was built upon a rock.

supported my remarks by the masterly and admiMartha, in the first reverse of her experience, rable exposition of the subject in the 7th of Rowas little disposed to favor the struggles of this liv- mans; and maintained, with the apostle, that a coning and irrepressible principle within her. She stant and decided conflict of the spirit against the discredited its suggestions; she questioned its na- flesh, of grace against sin, of the new nature ture; and was inclined rather to yield herself to the agunst the old, painful as it may be, is both a more calm of despondency, than continue in the agita- | afe and accessible evidence of Christian character tions of conflict

. Her heart had been paralyzed by than the most assured hopes or abounding joys. fear which her sensibility had nurtured; it was My next effort was to prevent her anxious search worn and exhausted by ceaseless warfare; and she into the past for the proofs of her sincerity, when scemed resolved to seek rest somewhere, though it her thoughts might he profitably directed to her preshould be on the ground of an enemy. The utmost sent duty. I urged that it was really of little mothai hope could do for her was to make her state ment whether she could or could not obtain this saJess dangerous, without making it more easy; it Itisfaction, compared with believing now on the Son


of God. That what we have been is not to discour- of reflection, and that the object to be contemplated age the sinner, or to prevent the saint from making might be studied in a variety of lights and aspects an immediate application to the Saviour. That re- Martha was much interested in this intercourse. ligion in its very nature is a continued intercourse I did not expect her to be suddenly relieved; but her with him; it is living in him, moving in him, and countenance was somewhat clearer, and her heart deriving from him, habitually, sanctity and grace. evidently lighter, than at the moment of our meetThat we are always to be "coming" unto him as ing. I had a stronger conviction than formerly, though we had never come before, confessing our that an indulgence of excessive feeling was likely sins, reposing on his righteousness, and imploring to be a snare to her; and indeed I could not avoid bis salvation.

ascribing her present distress principally, if not enI pointed out, with earnestness, that if these views tirely, to this undue sensibility, operated on by a were important in every state of the Christian life, growing perception of human trailiy and sinfulness. they were particularly so to her under her present It was a favorable opportunity, and I resolved to darkness of mind and perplexity of evidence. I acquaint her with my impressions. enforced the necessity, without seeking for obscured Martha had said she wished to know the worst evidences, without waiting for an improved experi- of herself. ence, of her simply acknowledging her felt demerit “ The worst I know of you," I replied, “is that and sin, and pleading the unfailing promises of you have too much feeling.” mercy to the unworthy; and I assured her, with O brother, I wish it were !" she said, increduthe confidence of proof, that this would greatly lously; " surely we cannot have too much feeling assist in baffling her adversaries, and breaking the if it is right feeling." spell which her distressing fears had cast upon her, “But my dear, if right feeling, as you term it, is

In conjunction with these observations, I referred excessive, it becomes wrong feeling." ber to some parts in Newton's Letters, Stafford's “But one cannot always govern one's feelings," Sermons on the 7th of Romans, and Gurnall's she continued: “and is it not better to have someChristian Armor, which I had recenily read with times an excess of feeling and suffer for it, than to advantage, that she might peruse them at leisure. sink into indifference and selfishness ?"

Martha's doubts, however, were not entirely con- “Yet why," I replied, “should you determine on fined to her personal interest in the blessings of reve- choosing one of two extremes, when there is a midlation; they were sometimes extended to the truth dle path of safety and comfort open to us? I do and genuineness of revelation itself. When her not commend indifference; I do not blame sensienemies could not succeed in wholly driving her bility; I condemn the excess of it. hopes from their hold, they sought to shake the “ I beseech you,” I continued, with greater earvery foundations on which ihey rested. Hitherto, nestness, in these words, or words to this effect; “I Martha had given her faith to revelation on the beseech you, my dear, not to trifle with this evil. I force of its internal and experimental evidence. It consider it to be your natural infirmity; and if you had revealed her thoughts, and given her the ex- nurture and indulge it, innocent as it appears in press image of her character; she had tasted and your eyes, it will be as a viper in your bosom. I felt its proposed blessedness. This was the most cannot help ascribing all your present uneasiness efficient of all evidence, and she had been satisfied and sorrow to this source-indeed I cannot !" with it. But now, when she was tempted to doubt Martha heard a voice in these words which I the reality of all she had felt and enjoyed, she was could not hear; they sank into her heart, and she led occasionally to ask, whether the very truths became thoughtful.' I knew not that they bore so themselves on which she had built might not also large an application as she was making; but I conbe illusive and unauthorized.

sidered that her reflections, once fixed on the subA sense of ignorance produces timidity. Martha ject, would be of abundantly more advantage to her was aware that she had neglected the general evi- ihan any additional remarks I could offer. That dences by which the Christian religion commends her thoughts might not be prematurely disturbed, I itself to our judgment; and the suggestions of left her to the meditations she evidently courted. doubt were the more frequent and troublesome. Martha's reflections were not those of an evenHer memory, too, took the color of her mind, and ing; they ran through several days and weeks of quickened into activity some common place objec- this period. All our conversations had been intetions of infidelity which had been uttered in her resting to her; but her attention was especially hearing at a considerable distance of time for her arrested by the closing one, which, from her pecu. annoyance, but which had been so dormant, that liar situation, fell like a sudden gleam of light, on she scarcely thought they had a place in her recol- a weakness of character which, until then, she had lection.

considered an excellence. She found it difficult to It was of vital importance to her peace of mind receive the unpleasant truth; and her pampered that from this subject at least all doubt should be feelings had innumerable specious pleas to urge excluded; and as it was simply a sincere and just in their own favor. But Martha was always ingedecision on the weight of testimony supplied that nuous with herself; and her indulgence passed into was necessary, nothing seemed required except a jealousy, her jealousy led to watchfulness, and her clear and combined exhibition of those external watchfulness to detection. She saw how easily an evidences by which revelation has been sustained ungoverned sensibility might mislead the judgment, against all attack, and has gathered confidence betray the heart, and undo the character which, in from examination, while human creeds and carnal all things else, may be truly admirable. More than religions have perished by the very hands that this, she saw that a sensibility, refined and noble as Wove them.


may appear, which is not under the rule and diAs far as conversation would admit, I touched rection of high religious principle, is only another on the leading and most tangible proofs which the name for that gross selfishness which it professes to subject affords, carefully dwelling on those which scorn and reprobate. had most impressed my own mind. I then put into With this discovery arose a sense of duty. A her hands successively, Doddridge's Sermons on disposition which was evil in itself and injurious in the subject; Halyburton on Natural and Revealed its consequences was not to be tolerated in a mind Religion ; Skelton on Deism ; with two or three set against all known sin. Martha therefore deanonymous articles on the truth of revelation, that clared hostility to it in all its excesses. But, on a her thoughts might continue some time in one linel review of her conduct, or rather want of conduct and activity in carrying out this resolution immedi. “I thought this letter would have been comately, she was induced to fear she had mistaken a posed of the language of despair; but through the declaration of warfare for war itself.

rich mercy of God, hope is again lifting up her However, the highest elevation is to be gained head. O for a heart to love and praise Him, who step by step. Martha had made one important has given us the valley of Achor for a door of step in detecting her weakness; another not less hope ! important in resolving to overcome it; the next _" I seem like the Israelites on their coming up step was to be taken unconsciously.

from Egypt. If they looked behind them, there Few habits are more difficult of conquest than was Pharaoh with his host—if before them, there that of listless revery; Though contrary to her was the Red Sea ; there was no way of deliverance. natural disposition, Martha had indulged in it so Instead of crying to the Lord, they began to murlong as an opiate to ber sorrows, that it nearly as- mur : but the Lord did not deal with them as they sumed the force of habit. This habit was to be deserved; and I would hope he will not with me. imperceptibly weakened. The books I had put into O Lord, return, return, and take possession of our her hand for perusal could only be read in the hearts, and enable us to live and die in thy service hours of retirement. As her progress would be and to thy glory! the subject of inquiry, she was obliged to read -“This morning my distracted mind was much them; and as their contents would be brought into supported by the sweet promise—' With every conversation, she must give her best attention to temptation He will make a way for our escape, that them. These considerations, united with her sis- we may be able to bear it. It was a beam of hope terly affection and the weight of the questions to be when my mind was sinking. I had before thought discussed, brought her mind to the work.

there was no passage in the word of God exactly The exercise, once begun, became easier and suited to my present state of trial. frequently pleasant. The authors she was daily —“What a sweet prayer is that of Peter's when consulting were treating the most serious subjects ready to sink- Lord, save, or I perish !

I never in the most serious manner; and gradually their saw so much beauty in it before! But when, in tryspirit was diffused over hers. Her mind became ing to avoid one danger, we find ourselves falling calm and reflective. When not engaged in read into another, it will make us cry in earnest, Lord, ing, she no longer resigned herself to a wandering save or we perish!-0 to lie low, very low, at the imagination : but endeavored so to engage her feet of Jesus, deeply sensible of our own weakness! thoughts on the past as to become beiter acquainted _" When I look within, I find-what shall I with herself and the dangers of her situation. say ? Ingratitude is too cold a name for the base

The agitation of the passions affords a valuable ness of our conduct towards God. I feel what I opportunity for sell-knowledge. The heart at ease, deserve; but this leads me to Calvary. There the like a fountain at rest, appears pure, transparent, mystery of the Divine forbearance is unveiled. and lovely in reflecting the loveliness of heaven; Yes! God hears our advocate on high, and will for but let it be violently disturbed, and its turbid wa- ever hear. Herein is love! ters will throw up to our sight nothing but mire and

" Not to be thought of but with tides of joy, dirt, Martha had now sufficient command of her

Not to be mentioned but with shouts of praise." self to dwell on the painful, but subsiding exercises of her mind, and they atforded her some new and -“My mind is dark and carnal. But what a deeper perceptions of her religious character. She mercy to have a desire (though a very faint one) saw much more of the natural unbelief, ingrati- for complete deliverance from sin! tude, and selfishness of the heart than formerly. -"My mind is, as usual, dark and indifferent. She saw how little submission she had to the will o that it were with me as in months that are past! of God, when that submission was actually tried; Yet is not the winter necessary as well as the sumand how little reliance on the Divine goodness, mer? But I am ready to say, it is winter all the when that goodness ceased to be apparent to the year with me. O that spring-time and harvest may eye of Aesh. Now that all this was so evident, she come to me! Hope beams while I am writing, and wondered that it had not been seen before. Her I am ready to affirm that the summer will return. blindness and folly seemed equalled only by her -"I feel not only lukewarm, cold, and indifferother iniquities; and her spirit sank into the no-ent, but full of rebellion, pride, perverseness, and thingness of deep and genuine humility.

ingratitude. I am weary of myself; but is it from Meanwhile, the year waned away to its close. hatred to sin, or the accusations of conscience ? You To Martha it brought, not only those impressions are ready to say, is there no balm in Gilead ? is of which every reflective mind is conscious, but the there no physician there? Yes, there is! And if sacred recollections of her covenant dedication at I did not hope that that balm would one day be the termination of a former year. The period was applied to my heart, I should be quite in despair. sanctified to her profit. Her mind was touched by But when I attempt to pray for it, a lethargy seems the frailty of life, and awed by the approach of to hang on me and prevent me.

I doubt not the eternity. She was reminded of all her follies and willingness of Jesus to save, but I doubt my willingsins, and confessed them in all the tenderness of ness to be saved in his way. O blessed Saviour, grief. As she sank in penitence she rose in confi- have mercy on a wretched sinner, who feels het dence. She remembered the years of the Most weakness, but who is too proud to own it,who does High, and encouraged herself in her God. Her not like to stoop to come to Thee, as possessing nothoughts dwelt on the sacrifice and merit of her thing but sin. Take away my pride, my selfishness, Saviour, with a most vivid sense of their unspeaka- my sin! ble value ; and she once more gave herself up to L“ I cannot help taking up my pen to invite you Him whom she was bound to serve. Hope, like to praise the Lord with me and for me. I do hope the bow of promise, gleamed on the darkness of the the Lord is again reviving his work; but I rejoice retiring storm, and told of brighter days to come. with trembling, because of this body of sin and

The following extracts of this date may serve death. I have felt the perverseness of my will sub further to illustrate what she felt, and how she was dued; I have been enabled to bless God for my rising above her feelings; how she was abased un- trials. I have had more pleasure in reading the der an increased conviction of her sinfulness, and Scriptures, and I hope more love to the Saviour. possessed of higher sentiments of the Redeemer's O the goodness of God! Will he yet be gracious ? excellence and grace.

Will he again grant me the smile of his conintenance, after all my abuse of his mercies? O for face, gave her strength to enter on it, thorny and deepest humility! O that redeeming love may hence- rough as it was to fleshly sensations. forth be my theme!"

The first step in this course led her to dispose of

her C- correspondence. She had valued it CHAPTER VIII.

for its own sake, and it was difficult for her to aban

don it, associated as it had been with many marks RESOLUTION. 1811.

of Christian friendship. But it had injured her, The mind is like the rocking-stone-a baby-hand and it would still injure her. The very sense of may set it in motion, but the might of the mightiest her weakness was her strength; for it would not cannot readily bring it to rest. Martha's peaceful allow her, in this struggle, to leave any known adspirit had been agitated by what was in itself a tri- vantage in the hands of her enemy. Her resoluvial occurrence; yet the master-hand of religion tion was taken, painfully taken; and though not was necessary to rectify the judgment, and allay the avowed, was soon accomplished. That correspondpertubation of the passions. Even in the application ence quickly expires to which one of the parties of this power, time is generally to be brought into becomes indifferent. the account; for the passion will often remain in The next measure was strictly to forbid herself motion after the cause is removed, as the sea is the perusal of any book which should have a tenseen to roll and break when the winds have ceased. dency to feed those thoughts she was seeking to

The fulness of Martha's distress had arisen froin subdue. Happily, Martha did not see, in all its exreligious causes. She had lost all pleasure in those tent, the importance of this resolution; for she had duties which were so delightful. She had prayed no acquaintance with that class of books which without life, worshipped without composure. Her abounds with an exuberant and vicious sentimenthoughts had been confused and distracted. Dis- tality. But she had found, in her present state of traction had brought darkness, darkness had brought mind, works that were not only unexceptionable guilt, guilt had brought doubt. She had questioned but truly excellent, dangerous to her. She considerher whole profession; and, to use her own words, ed her mind as diseased. What others might feed had concluded that her iniquities had separated be on with ease and advantage would do her an injury; tween her and her God. Under such impressions, and therefore it was her duty to abstain. In this she was not aware of the influence of any secondary conviction she experienced a jealousy towards all sorrow; but no sooner were her fears appeased on works of imagination, whether in prose or rhyme; this principal subject than her mind was alive to and avoided every thing that might excite sensibilimeaner anxieties.

ties already too quick and pungent. Her thoughts involuntarily reverted to those cir- Finally, as a means of peculiar value, she resolv cumstances which had originated all her sorrows. ed on keeping her attention fully engaged and pro Accustomed to run in this channel, they could not occupied. She had already felt the efficacy of this at once be completely diverted, and there were pe- remedy, and sensible benefit urged her to a complete culiarities in the case which invited them in this and persevering trial. Her salutary purpose was direction ; particularly the continued representa- confirmed by a sentence in the letters of Henry tions of her friend at C- had this tendency. Kirke White. He expresses it as his conviction, She always touched on the subject, more or less, in “that a life of full and constant employment is the her correspondence, and always with the same con- only safe and happy one." Martha had a strong fidence. She was sure that all was right--that a sympathy with the character and sufferings of this declaration would be made—and she assigned spe- 1 young and amiable martyr to ambitious excitation; cious reasons for its delay, some of which, indeed, his opinion fastened on her memory, and frequently would have had considerable weight on the most arose to her thoughts in the moment of need. impartial judgment.

Let it not be supposed that this moment of need It was impossible that her mind should remain never came, or came but seldom-that having once uninfluenced by such assurances. Martha was de- taken her resolution, it was without difficulty fulfilsirous of believing them, not on her own account, ed. No—it cost her many and sharp encounters but for the sake of another. She thought that she with herself. While she kept to the letter of her cared not for the result of the affair; she was only purpose, the spirit was not always attainable. If anxious that her opinion of the party should not be the hands were busily pressing the needle on its changed. In defiance, however, of her gentle and progress, the mind would wander from so mechaniunsuspecting nature, that opinion was insensibly al- cal a task. If she turned to the page of knowledge, tering. If, indeed, any unwelcome suggestions arose it was often necessary to review, and review, the 10 her mind, she would repress them, and exclaim, same few sentences she had read, to possess their " It cannot be—it cannot be ;" yet her thoughts meaning. If she thought, her thoughts would freshrunk from the confidence which these negatives quently make their way, by a most circuitous course, implied; they hung in doubt—in doubt of the truth to the borders of forbidden ground; and her mutiand honor of one whose conduct seemed to affect nous imagination would find resemblances in preher estimation of human nature generally. “This sent objects to things that were to be forgotten, where suspense !" she would say—“this suspense—any really nothing but disparity existed. thing is better than this suspense !"

Amid these discouragements, however, Martha These were only the occasional wanderings of a remained steady to her purpose. Her mind was mind not as yet fully coutrolled. But Martha now differently affected to what it had been in her former possessed as clear a perception of her state as any conflict. She was now satisfied that there was no one can pretend to, where the feelings have been collusion between her and her enemy. If she could at all engaged. She acknowledged to herself the not always forget, she always strove to forget. If weakness of her character, and pursued it in all its she could not do all she desired, she desired to do most dangerous tendencies. In the trial which still all she ought. “To will was present with her :" entangled her straying thoughts, she saw and felt and if she could not secure success, she was yet de. distinctly what was to be done; that to banish sas- termined, in a strength above her own, to exercise pense, she must destroy expectation; and that ex- resistance to the last. She had therefore for her pectation was to be destroyed, not by balancing companion an approving conscience, which shed powerful reasons against the weaker, but by the ex- joy and confidence on her spirit. She partook of clusion of the subject altogether from thought. Re- the blessedness of the man who resisteth temptation ligion, which had made her way plain before her -almost the exclusive blessedness of this frail

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »