Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to cherish a little hope. Some of the number even fell into a troubled sleep.

At last, there were indications of the morning. The dim forms of objects in the cabin began to be a little more distinct. The grey light of day looked down through the narrow window of the deck. As the passengers aroused themselves one after another, and looked forth from their berths, they perceived at once that the danger was over. They went to the deck, clinging to something firm for support; for the wind was still brisk, and the sea still heaved and tumbled in great commotion. But the danger was over. The sky was clear. A broad zone of light extended itself in the east, indicating the approaching sun; and not many miles distant there was extended a level sandy shore, lined with dwellings, and opening to a small harbour, filled with vessels which had sought shelter there from the fury of the storm. It was Province-town, at the extremity of the Cape.

I need not say that the passengers and crew assembled once more, before they landed, at the Throne of Grace; to give thanks to God for having heard the prayer which he Himself put into their hearts, and granted them deliverance.

CHAPTER IV.

CONSEQUENCES OF NEGLECTING DUTY.

Neglecting Duty. -Injury which this Book will do.-The Disobedient Child-The Message disregarded.-The Christian Message.

The Story of Louisa-Her Character-The Evening Meeting-Louisa's Interest in Religion-Conversation with her-Increasing Interest-Unwilling to yield to God-Her Sickness She sends for her Pastor-Her Alarm-Her increasing Anxiety-Death-bed Repentance-Increasing Sickness and Mental SufferingDanger-Louisa's Despair-Her Advice to her young Friends-Last Visit-Her Sufferings-She dies at Midnight-Her Feelings at last.

I

"If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them!"

HAVE now, in the several chapters which the reader has already had the opportunity of perusing, endeavoured clearly to explain the first steps to be taken in Christian duty, and the principles and feelings by which they ought to be guided. And I should hope, that all who have read these pages must have understood, clearly and distinctly, what, as far as lies in them, should be done. Take, for example, the subject of the first chapter, Confession. You cannot think upon that subject for half-an-hour, without seeing that you have disobeyed God again and again; and that you have, by thus doing what you knew to be wrong, displeased your Maker, and destroyed your peace of mind. This no one can deny. There is a vast variety of religious opinions in the world; but I believe no sect, believing the existence of a Deity, was ever heard of, which maintained that man does not do wrong, or that he ought not to acknowledge his sins to God.

But, when you saw clearly that you had done wrong, and destroyed your peace, did you go to God and seek reconciliation? How many probably read that chapter, distinctly understood what duty it urged upon them, and saw the reasonableness of that duty; and yet have shut the book, and laid it away, without ever intending to

set resolutely about doing it! To understand clearly what duty is, and to have a disposition to fulfil it, are very different things.

[ocr errors]

I have, during the preceding chapters, been confined almost exclusively to explaining what the Duty of my readers is. I have said scarcely any thing to persuade you to fulfil it; and, as I have gone on from page to page, and endeavoured so to explain and illustrate the principles of religion that every one could understand them, the melancholy reflection has often forced itself upon me: How many will probably read, or hear read, these things, and yet entirely neglect to do any thing I describe!""Melancholy reflection!" you will say, perhaps ; 'why do you call it a melancholy reflection? If some are induced to do their duty in consequence of your explanations, you may rejoice in the good which is done, and not think at all of those who disregarded what you say. The book will certainly do them no harm."

Will do them no harm!-I wish that could be true! But it is not. The religious teacher cannot console himself with the thought, that when his efforts do no good, they do no harm: for he must, if he speaks distinctly, and brings fairly forward a question of duty, lead every one of his readers to decide for or against it. And, when a person decides against duty, is he not injured? is not good principle defeated and weakened, and his heart hardened against a future appeal?

The chapter on Confession of Sin, for example, has been undoubtedly read by multitudes, who shut the book, and laid it aside, without at all attempting to perform the duty there pointed out. The duty was plainly brought before the reader. He could not, and probably would not, deny its obligation. But instead of going accordingly to God, and seeking peace and reconciliation to Him by a free confession of guilt, he laid the book away; and,

after a very short time, all the serious thoughts it suggested vanished from his mind, and he returned to his sins. Now this is deciding, distinctly, against God.For to decide against God, it is not necessary to use the actual language of disobedience.

Suppose that a father sends a child to call back his little sister, who is going away contrary to her father's wishes. The boy runs and overtakes her, and delivers his message. The child stops a moment, and listens to the command that she should return immediately to her home. She hesitates-thinks of her father and of her duty to obey him--and then looks over the green fields through which she was walking, and longs to enjoy the forbidden pleasure. There is a momentary struggle in her heart, and then she turns away and walks boldly and carelessly on.

The messenger returns slowly and sadly home.-But why does he return sadly? He has done his duty in delivering the message. Why should he be sad?-He is sad to think of the double guilt which his sister has incurred. He thinks that the occasion, which his coming up to his sister presented, might have been the means of her return and of her forgiveness; but that it was, in fact, the means of confirming her in disobedience, and of hardening her heart against the claim of her father.

It is thus with the Message which a Christian Teacher brings to those who hear his words. If they do not listen to obey, they listen to reject and to disobey; and every refusal to discharge a known duty hardens the heart in sin. There can be no question, therefore, that such a book as this must, in many cases, be the innocent means of fixing human souls in their sins: as the Gospel itself, while it is a savour of life unto life" to some, to others is a savour of death unto death."

66

66

Reader! is your name on the sad catalogue of those who read religious books, and hear religious instruction,

merely to bring the question of duty again and again before your mind, with a decision that you will not fulfil it? If it is, read, and consider attentively the narrative to which the remainder of this chapter is devoted. It has never before been published. I providentially met with it in a manuscript, while writing these chapters: and it teaches so forcibly the lesson which ought now to be impressed upon my readers, that I requested of the Clergyman who wrote it permission to insert it here. The circumstances are of recent occurrence; and the reader may rely upon the strict truth and faithfulness of the description. How forcibly does it delineate the awful consequences of being only almost persuaded to be a Christian!

STORY OF LOUISA.

Shortly after my settlement in the Ministry, I observed in the congregation a young lady whose blooming countenance and cheerful air shewed perfect health and high elation of spirits. Her appearance satisfied me at once that she was amiable and thoughtless. There was no one of my charge whose prospects for long life were more promising than her own; and perhaps no one who looked forward to the future with more pleasing hopes of enjoyment. To her eye the world seemed bright. She often said, she wished to enjoy more of it before she became a Christian.

Louisa (for by that name I shall call her) manifested no particular hostility to religion; but wished to live a gay and merry life till just before her death; and, then, to become pious, and die happy. She was constant in her attendance at church; and while others seemed moved by the exhibition of the Saviour's love, she seemed entirely unaffected. Upon whatever subject I preached, her countenance retained the same marks of indifference and unconcern. The same easy smile played upon her features,

« AnteriorContinuar »