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the subjects of his providence? But see, my young friend, it is time we were on our way down the mountain, for one half of the sun's disk is already below the western horizon.'
"The above conversation, my dear parents, is but an outline of that which took place betwixt the old Squire and myself; he is very prolix in discourse, but his ideas are strikingly just, and his arguments forcible. Whether it be from the influence of religion, or philosophy, or both combined, I know not, but so it is that he maintains with admirable composure his position on that awful line, where the territory of time unites with that of eternity.
"I will close this letter with some remarks as to our co-religionists in this region. Either they are much below the same class in Connecticut, in sincerity, moderation, and courtesy, or the veil of partiality, through which I may have been accustomed to see them, has been removed; for cretain it is, that in respect to these indispensable christian graces, they compare very disadvantageously with the people of this valley, which is a pity, too, for the latter are despised by them, and denounced as heretics. But why heresy should be invested with such fascinations of candor, christian charity, and purity of life, while what is termed truth, is often found associated with moroseness and intolerance, is, dear parents, a sad puzzle to Your affectionate daughter, ALICE."
I must inform you, reader, that the latter member of the above alternative expresses the truth. Alice's co-religionists on THE POINT are, I suspect, as good as the same class in Connecticut, or any where else; but the mind of our heroine had undergone a gradual change her partialities were in some degree removed, and her perceptions were in consequence less clouded. She now saw many things in the conduct of those denominated saints, which shocked her ideas of propriety, and led her to inquire within herself, "Is it possible that Connecticut christians would act thus ?" Simple hearted girl! she will find before she dies that evil principles of religion, in all climes alike, exert an evil moral influence
Well, a month has elapsed since the epistle was written which occupies so much of the foregoing chapter: as the humble
chronicler of events in which our heroine is concerned, I must record what has transpired within the time; especially as the material required for the completion of our history is to be drawn principally from the incidents of that month.
Be it known, then, that in the early part of it, the good folk on THE POINT held a religious meeting of twelve days' continuance : Alice attended it throughout, suspending her school for the purpose, a usual thing on such occasions—not with regard to schools merely, but also to most of the ordinary operations of life-and whilst the class of religionists who have recourse to this measure (evidently for sectarian ends,) affect to be horror-stricken at the idea of being employed in secular pursuits on the sabbath, they at the same time regard the command, "six days shalt thou labor," with about as much respect as though it had emanated from the Spartan law-giver. So much for puritanic consistency.
Alice had fresh occasions, during this meeting, for observing how much a comparison between the people of her own church, and those of Universalia, resulted in favor of the latter. Old Mrs. Matthews, a resident on THE POINT, with whom she tarried during the twelve days, was of the latter class; she rendered our heroine every friendly attention, and afforded her every facility in her power for attending upon all the services. She even accompanied her, when she could do so consistently with her domestic duties, although, in carrying her civility so far, she subjected herself to the necessity of frequently hearing the doctrines she cherished, together with the believers in them, made the subjects of violent invective and misrepresentation. "Never mind it, my dear Mrs. Matthews," Alice would say on their way from church, "I cannot think our preachers in Connecticut would thus decry their christian neighbors without the slightest reason or provocation." "Nor would they here,” the old lady would calmly reply, "if they deemed that their own faith, or morals, would endure a candid comparison with those of the people they denounce."
Mrs. Matthews had a hired girl, who was a member of the church on THE POINT, and quite a zealot too in that way: had she possessed as much brain as piety it would have been well enough with her; but, as it was, her zeal was constantly running away with the little sense she had; although a very poor girl, and her mother a widow in extremely indigent circumstances, she could
not forego, on the present occasion, the attending upon every service of the meeting; she entered into a compact with the old lady, by which her wages were to be suspended for the twelve days, during which she was to have the privilege of attending at three preachings and two prayer meetings each day, and to receive her board for such little service about house as she could render in the intervals. "If you were in unison with me in religious opinions, Bridget," said old Mrs. Matthews, very mildly, "I should feel it my duty to control you in this matter, for your own and poor mother's interests; as it is, however, it would not fail, were I to interfere, to be ascribed to unworthy motives."
That the heart of Bridget Bounce (for so was she named) was profited by these religious exercises, is possible; whether her understanding was improved, or her scanty stock of information enlarged, is a matter of much doubt. At the conclusion of the last day's services, Bridget returned home excessively elated in mind. "Oh, Mrs. Matthews!" she exclaimed, "I do wish you had heard Mr. F. -, to-day! If he ain't a dear man there never was one!" "Why, what did he preach about?" inquired the old lady. "Oh, I don't know exactly," answered Bridget," but it was something about getting religion, I believe." "Can you tell me where he found his text?" inquired the old lady again. "La, suz!" exclaimed the somewhat puzzled Miss Bounce, "I don't mind now whether it was in the fore eend of the bible, or the hind eend, but I expect it was somewhere in the book of Paul." "You have the advantage of better eyes than mine, Bridget," Mrs. Matthews drily retorted, "if you can find the book of Paul in the bible, either in the beginning, ending, or middle.
We must not be in haste to censure or to laugh at poor Bridget Bounce; in returning from the preaching without any ideas at all she did quite as well as many others of the congregation, whose pretensions were much higher, and better than though she had carefully hoarded, without understanding, all the humdrum spiritualities that were sawed out on the occasion; for the sermons usually delivered at such times, be it known, are among the silliest of all the silly offspring of the human brain, (provided, always, that brain be necessary to their production,) and are as innocent of any thing resembling sense, as the preaching of the Savior was wont to be of any thing resembling them. I will sustain the truth of
these remarks, by presenting outlines of some that were deemed the best which were delivered during this meeting.
Mr. M- took for his text, "Take ye away the stone." It is found in the account of the raising of Lazarus. The preacher alluded but little to the history; but proceeded to assume as the spiritual teaching of the text, (1) That the unconverted are morally dead and buried, and as incapable of any thing good as is a literally deceased person of exerting his physical powers. (2) That there are certain obstacles in God's way, which prevent his calling these dead sinners to life: these are the stone upon the mouth of the sepulchre, which christians are called upon to remove. (3) It was sagaciously hinted, that if the friends of Lazarus had refused to take away the stone, in the case under notice, that Christ could not have called him to life; and, from analogy, it was supposed, that if when God proposes to work by his spirit for the renovation of dead sinners, the saints refuse to co-operate, and prepare his way, the work of Jehovah cannot go on. Such was the sum of Mr. M's discourse, and the burthen of the several prayers put up at the close, was, "Oh Lord! poor sinners are dead and in their graves around us-thou awaitest to awake them to spiritual lifebut requirest in this solemn business the co-operation of thy people. Oh, help us then to take away the stone, that they may not remain dead to all eternity through our neglect."
Mr. B preached from the words, "Their feet shall slide in due time," from which he assumed, (1) That God has a set time from eternity for all the work he performs, (inclusive of the saving or damning of sinners,) and, therefore, (2) It must not be presumed from the fact that sinners, long in rebellion, are yet out of hell, that God's mercy will always endure toward them, for "their feet shall slide in due time." (3) "It might be," the preacher remarked, "that God had appointed the close of that very meeting as the time when the feet of many of the congregation, still remaining hardened, should slide into unending burnings. They were therefore solemnly admonished to submit without delay, and avert this dreadful doom." Avert a doom appointed from eternity!
Mr. A chose the following words: "For ye know that afterward, when he would have received the blessing, he was rejected, and found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." There is allusion here to the history of Jacob and VOL. I.-B 2
Esau. The latter, when it was too late, indulged in unavailing regrets at having sold his birth-right, and implored his father, in the most moving manner, to bless him in such terms of benediction as he could, consistently with what he had already invoked upon the head of his brother Jacob; the poor old father was much moved for his unfortunate son, and most fervently complied with his desire. The preacher, however, disregarded all the analogies in the case, and assumed from his text, (1) That each sinner has a certain term of time allotted him, within which he may secure the salvation of his soul. (2) If he fail to improve this space, no future opportunities for this great business will be afforded him; "the divine wrath will kindle, and blaze against him to all eternity he will cry out from the depths of his wretchedness in hell, in order to move God to compassion, but all in vain—he will find no place for repentance in the divine mind—(there was in Isaac's, however!)-no pity-no relentance there: the forked lightnings of Almighty anger shall scath and blast the sinner with every stroke." Had it been the preacher's object to depict his Maker's character in the most repulsive colors, he could not have succeeded in that business better than he did. The mind instinctively recoiled with loathing from the contemplation of a being, clothed with almighty power, and exerting it for the infliction of the most horrid torments upon impotent worms.
Mr. S, who preached the next sermon in course, evidently thought that the chords of horror had been so often and so violently struck during the meeting, that they had nearly lost their power to vibrate; he therefore touched an opposite note. He read for his text," Is there no balm in Gilead?" His prayer also, and the hymns he selected, were in the same strain. He began with
"Is it so?" mentally inquired our heroine, whose orthodoxy by this time, (truth must be told,) had begun to stagger under the load of nauseous and contradictory stuff to which, for several days in succession, she had been listening. "Is it then the fact, that