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head; for I am quite unwilling to entertain the other and more fatal alternative—that he has read but does not believe, or believing will not obey. This would reduce the question to one of infidelity; or, in the latter case, to something very proximate to it—a crime of such magnitude against the sovereignty of heaven, as I will not for a moment suppose your husband capable of committing.”
“Oh, no!" answered Mrs. Sandford with somewhat of emotion, “I thank God my husband is not an infidel, though I regret to say, less strict in his religious duties than he ought to be.”
Let me for an instant, my dear friend,” resumed the former, recall to your remembrance three or four of the most powerful and authoritative exhortations to the duty of prayer contained in the sacred Scriptures; which, had your husband ever read, with the smallest attention, would never have suffered him to entertain the opinion to which you have just alluded. The subject is so familiar, and so deeply interesting to my mind, as to require no effort of memory to recollect the very words themselves.
“ The zealous apostle of the Gentiles, in addressing his Ephesian converts, thus enjoins upon them this sacred duty* Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.' * In his Epistle to the Romans, he affectionately beseeches them to continue instant in prayer;'+ and to the Thessalonians he gives the same short but energetic admonition, to ' pray without ceasing.'I
“If we turn,” said this exemplary woman, “to the Gospel
* Eph. vi.
Rom. xii. 12.
ti Thess. v, 17.
of St. Luke, we shall find a more illustrious authority still, in the person of our blessed Lord Himself. In addressing his disciples—' He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint.'* And in a subsequent chapter of the same Gospel, He delivered the following momentous warning, on the subject of prayer, to the disciples who accompanied Him—Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.' +
“ To these solemn injunctions,” she added, " did our adorable Saviour give a Divine sanction in his own person. How often did He pray Himself to his heavenly Father, and with what fervency of spirit!”
“They are, doubtless, striking passages, observed the lady of the house," and if you will have the kindness to write down the texts on a slip of paper, I will take an opportunity, on some early day, to call Mr. Sandford's serious attention to them in the Bible. I assure you, he is very amiable, and by no means an unreasonable man, if you can but fix his attention and awaken bis judgment by the force of evidence; though I fear, like myself, he is sometimes very thoughtless."
“I most truly hope you will succeed,” replied her pious guest, “for I can consider no family strictly Christian, and sincere in their religion, who raise not up an altar of Divine worship, within the bosom of their household, to the praise and glory of God. Let us never forget,-in order that we may be delivered from it,—the awful curse which I have already alluded to, invoked by the prophet Jeremiah, on the heads of the prayerless. " All Scripture,' we are told, 'is given by inspiration of * Luke xviii. 1.
+ Luke xxi. 36.
God;'* therefore does the Almighty, by the voice of his inspired prophet speak Himself the words of this fearful malediction. Do, my dear Mrs. Sandford,” she said with emotion, “reflect deeply and seriously upon this important subject
• Be wise to-day !~'tis madness to defer !
,-till wisdom is pushed out of life.
The vast concerns of an eternal scene !' 个 +
The books at length arrived for which Mrs. Gracelove had sent to Derwent Cottage. They contained the printed and published documents, written and promulgated by the authority of the Romish Church ; with the testimony of which, in favour of her argument, she felt she could enter the lists against her half sceptical opponent with triumphant success.
The moment was favourable for the resumed discussion ; for, immediately after breakfast, Mr. Sandford had taken his gun and gone out shooting; Miss Sandford had proceeded on a visit to a friend in the neighbourhood; and her brother and sister, several years younger than herself, were at school. Thus the tête-à-tête was complete, and required nothing to secure it from interruption.
“I have received my packet,” said Mrs. Gracelove to her friend, as she closed the door of the library into which she had entered, and where the latter was seated, “and shall now, with your good pleasure, lay before you the most conclusive proofs of the truth of my assertions, made three days ago, when the subject was first named between us. You will remember I charged the Roman Catholics with idolatry; with worshipping saints, and angels, and images; and with not only worshipping the Virgin Mary, but with offering to her a more decided and fervent adoration than even to the Redeemer of the world Himself.
“ Such, indeed, was the accusation you made,” replied Mrs. Sandford ; “ and I trust I have sufficient wisdom both to feel and to declare myself convinced, should your testimony bear anything like a relative proportion to the strength of your assertions, and the confidence you entertain of proving your case. At the same time, I must acknowledge,” she added, “that it gives me much pain to think there should exist any objection whatever against Mr. Merton ; for I assure you, my dear Mrs. Gracelove, we are all very partial to him, and the young lady, as you may suppose, not the least so.”
“Before entering on my task,” said her honoured guest, let me remind
that all I shall advance will be on the authority of the Church of Rome itself. The evidence against that Church will proceed, if I may be allowed the expression, out of its own mouth. No surmise of my own will be given ; no opinion expressed which is not supported by undeniable facts drawn from the decrees of councils—the Roman Breviary, Catechism, Psalter, devotional books, and the rescripts of popes.
“I will now read to you,” continued our worthy friend,“ a decree passed in the 25th session of the Council of Trent respecting saint-worship. It is as follows :— This holy synod teaches all the bishops, &c., diligently to instruct the faithful respecting the intercession and invocation of saints, the honour due to relics, and the lawful use of images ; teaching them that the saints reigning with Christ offer their prayers to God for men; that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them ; that those who deny that the saints are to be invocated,
or who say that the invocation of them, to pray for us, is idolatry,-or that it opposes the word of God, and the honour of the one Mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ,--or that it is foolish to supplicate with the voice or mind the saints reigning in heaven ;—that those persons entertain impious sentiments.'