« AnteriorContinuar »
[No. 59. • THE EVANGELICAL RAMBLER.
“I bad gained that high-that elevated spot-that spiritual Pisgah, to which you so finely and beautifully allude, from wbence I could read
My title clear
"To mansions in the skies ;' and from whence I thought I should never be displaced ; but alas! I am again compelled to give utterance to the plaintive notes of woe. I am again a mourning captive: my harp of praise is again unstrung and suspended on the willow; and beside the running stream, I am compelled once more to sit down and weep.'
London: PRINTED FOR FRANCIS WESTLEY, 10, STATIONERS'
COURT, AND AVE-MARIA-LANE,
: MISS HOLMES..
*. PART IV.
“If I have a good hope through grace, I desire rationally and scripturally to account for it. At least I am anxious to · ascertain, whether I possess unequivocal evidence, that I am an acceptable being in the sight of God ?"
The change which had taken place in Miss Holmes, became the topic of general conversation in the circle of her gay associates; and though some of them predicted that she would again intermingle with them, when the fit of melancholy was over, yet they were disappointed. She returned the calls of enquiry which had been made as soon as her health permitted ; . but she left a deep impression on the mind of all her friends, that the world had lost its charms, and that higher and nobler objects of pursuit now engrossed her attention. One of the first proofs of her decision, was, consenting to become a Secretary to a female branch of an Auxiliary Bible Society, which was established in the vicinity of the Elms; and which brought her into immediate connection with several pious families. Having derived so much spiritual benefit from the Scriptures during her long confinement, she felt anxious that the sacred volume should be universally circulated, and voluntarily devoted a large portion of her time, and all her influence, to secure the co-operation of others to accomplish such an important object.
One of the most conspicuous professors in her neighbourhood, was a Mr. Corrie, who had sat under the ministry of the celebrated Romaine for more than thirty years, and who held his memory in the highest estimation. Mr. Corrie was a widower, very far advanced in life, possessed of an handsome fortune ; and who had residing with him, two maiden sisters, who were decidedly pious. These females were intelligent-refined in their manners-zealous and active in the cause of humanity and religion-catholic in their disposition--and whose -chief delight was in going about doing good. They lived together in sweetest fellowship; and so completely were their minds imbued with the spirit of Christ, that they looked down with an eye of comparative indifference on the tumultuous scenes of human ambition and folly, having their affections placed on things above. Mr. Corrie usually spent his mornings in his study, while his sisters went forth on their visits of mercy to the cottages of the poor and the needy; and in the evening they passed away their time in conversing together on the occurrences of the day, or in the graver habit of reading to each other. They generally read a portion of Mr. Romaine's Works, which they considered to be the standard of orthodoxy; and though they were willing to submit every religious opinion to the test of the “law and the testimony” of the Scriptures, yet they never thought of subjecting his sentiments to such an ordeal., His treatise on the Life and the Walk of Faith, and some Letters which have been published since his decease, they regarded with almost as much reverence as they felt towards the Epistles of the inspired writers; and thought that no author equalled him, in correctness of sentiment and depth of experience.
Miss Holmes, in her perambulations on behalf of the Bible Society, happened to call on the Misses Corrie, to solicit their subscriptions, just as the tea was brought into the parlour; and being pressed, she consented to spend the evening with them. Their cheerfulness— the spirituality of mind which they discovered in their conversation--the fervent spirit of devotion which was apparent in Mr. Corrie when engaged in family prayer and the confidence with which they spoke of their interest in Christ, and of their final salvation, operated so powerfully on her feelings, that she was unwilling to retire from the enchanting spot; and when the lateness of the hour compelled her to leave, she could not do it without requesting permission to repeat her visit. “We shall be happy to see you at any time,” said Miss Corrie, “, and if it be in our power to teach you the way of the Lord more perfectly, we shall con-. sider ourselves highly honoured. : :
Religious conversation is one of the most useful methods of instruction and consolation we can employ; but sometimes, when a false standard of experience is erected, it becomes the means of perplexing and distracting weak minds. Our Lord taught his disciples, as
they were able to receive instruction; keeping alive their attention—while he allayed the restlessness of an unprofitable curiosity, by saying—I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cunnot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth : for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. And on this wise maxim the Holy Spirit condescends to conduct his process of instruction, that we may not be confounded by communications which we are unable to understand; but be led on step after step in the province of divine know. ledge, till we are able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fulness of God. And it is of immense importance, in relation to the government of our conduct towards others, and in relation to our own tranquillity and spiritual improvement, that we rigourously adhere to this maxim; or we may inflict a wound, while attempting to impart the consolations of our faith, and absolutely retard that growth in knowledge which we deem essential to our happiness.
Mr. Corrie was a man of a rather weak understanding-eminently pious—who had associated with very few intelligent Christians in the earlier part of his life ;- so that his first undigested sentiments grew up into firm and immoveable opinions ; and though he devoted a large portion of his time to reading the Scriptures, yet, owing to the bias of which he was not conscious, he more generally searched for passages in support of his own peculiar notions, than to enlarge his views of the entire scheme of redemption. He was positive, but not perverse; inflexibly attached to his own belief, but not disposed to inveigh against that of another; and though he imbibed some religious principles which have, in their operation, done great injury to the amiability of the Christian character, and the peace of the church, yet in him their tendency was neutralized by the sweetness of his natural disposition, combined with the fervour of his devotional spirit. He dwelt much, in his conversation, on the high points of election and predestination; maintained with great pertinacity that human
nature undergoes no moral improvement, but remains as impure and deceitful after the great renovation has taken place, as before; and considered an assurance of our final salvation so essential to the nature of faith, that he would not admit a person possessed the principle, who did not enjoy an unclouded prospect of eternal glory. These topics bounded the range of his enquiry"; and though at times he would make concessions which involved their accuracy, yet when apprized of his dangér, he would step back with singular adroitness, and resist the force of an argument to expose their fallacy, by saying to an antagonist, “ You see through a glass darkly, while I see face to face.” Had he confined these subjects to the circle of his own family, or amongst those of his pious friends who had been educated in the same school, he would have done little . injury, because their habits of devotion were a safeguard against their pernicious tendency; but by bringing them forward in promiscuous society, and by holding them up as essential articles of the Christian faith, he often involved the judgment of the young disciple in the deepest perplexity, and unintentionally threw down some of those barriers which the Scriptures have raised, to restrain the evil propensities of the human heart. The effects of these sentiments on the mind of Miss Holmes may be seen in the following letter, which she addressed to her friend Mrs. Loader, a few weeks after her introduction to this family.
“MY DEAR FRIEND,
“I received your last very kind letter, and should have replied to it earlier; but since my convalescence, I have been so engaged with my new duties, as the Secretary to our Auxiliary Bible Society, that I have not been able to find time. I cannot express to you in words, how much pleasure I received by the perusal of it. It came at a season when my mind was sinking into a state of deep despondency, and when I was tempted to give up my hope ; but the Lord was pleased to employ it as the means of dispersing the shadows of darkness which were hovering around me, and I was enabled to rejoice in the light of his countenance. I had gained that high-that