Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

human heart since the day it gave ear to the tempter until now? And who will not realize reward and blessing in disregarding, in comparison, the maxims of caste and folly, laying a subjugated will at the foot of the cross, and meekly asking, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?”

Oh the aching, breaking hearts, the irritated tempers, (the cutting disappointments, the worn-out lives, that groan under the slavery of the world's opinion, and the fatal folly of false appearances! Oh for heroism to break the spell, and deliver our own minds and conduct from the miserable thraldom. Truth, God's truth from heaven, reflected in the life made truthful among men, is the only hope of remedy, the only strong power to cleave the hydraheaded evil, and lay bare the cheats that disgrace society. May truth's standard bearers be multiplied, and their presence felt among us!

THE RECLAIMED INFIDEL. ONE Saturday morning, a few years ago, a letter was delivered at the shop of John Wilson, a tradesman in the town of It was as follows:

« Dear Wilson, -I just drop you a line to say that tomorrow (Saturday night) I intend to run over and spend the Sunday with you. I must return on Monday morning. Yours truly, Edw. M-Clay."

Wilson had been originally an artisan, and had worked in the same shop with M.Clay, both in their native place, Ja manufacturing town in Scotland, and in places in England as well. For many years the two had been fast friends. Of late they had seen each other only seldom; but they had kept up an occasional correspondence.

At the time when they were fellow apprentices, the plausible, but visionary schemes of Robert Owen were leading away great numbers of the working classes, who not only entered into his schemes, but imbibed his dangerous errors. Wilson and M.Clay had both been dazzled by the brilliant prospects which he held out of a “ new moral world," and had embarked their first savings in the settlement at New Lanark. The failure of that project bad greatly disappointed them; still they did not relinquish their faith in their teacher. Their minds were completely poisoned by his corrupt principles; in one word, they were downright infidels. For a good while, however, ! previously to the time of our narrative, Wilson's mind had

become greatly dissatisfied. He felt that the fair promises of infidelity were all unfulfilled, and that they afforded him no rest. His heart yearned for something better; but, for a good while, he had scarcely any idea where it was to be found. Although reluctant to believe that he must abandon all the principles which he had ficherished so long, and betake himself to the Christianity which he had so long repudiated, there arose within him the growing conviction that he was more likely to find it there than anywhere else. In this state of mind his eye lighted on the announcement of a series of discourses to be delivered in one of the places of Worship in the town in which he lived. They were not on controversial topics, but on some of the prominent themes of Christian teaching. The thought struck him, “ I will go and hear these discourses.” He went; he heard them all; was interested in the services of the minister, and resolved that he would become a regular hearer. 6 I don't profess to be a Christian," he said to the minister when he called upon him,

but I am willing to be a learner; I hope that one day I shall become a Christian too."

He was in this state of mind when he received M-Clay's letter. It occasioned him at first some perplexity. He had given no intimation to his friend of his change of sentiments; and he knew too that he would expect the whole day to be spent as they had spent many a sabbath before, partly in strolling about the fields, and the rest in conversation in the house. At first he thought of giving up (the day to him, as he would have done had no change occurred. On consideration, however, he said to himself, “ No, that will never do; I must be frank and honest with | him, and tell him all.”

In the evening his friend arrived. It was late before Wilson was at liberty; for he was now a tradesman in a small but flourishing way of business, and his shop did not close till late on the Saturday night. As the friends sat together by themselves after breakfast on Sunday morning, Wilson said with some hesitation, “ Well, Edward, I hope you will have no objection to go with us to chapel.” 1" To chapel, George !” exclaimed M*Clay; “ what has come over you now? You don't really mean to say that you are a chapel-goer ?”

“ I have not been so long," replied Wilson; “ but for the last six months I have been attending pretty regalarly.”

"But, John, you don't mean to say you're a Christian ?"

"I can't say that I am, Edward; there are a good many things which Christian people believe, which I don't see my way about as yet. But I want to be a learner. I condemned Christianity for a long time without really knowing what it was, and I should like to know something about it. I don't think that I can have a better way of getting to know what it is than by going to a place of worship.”

“ But is not that hypocrisy-going when you say you are not a Christian ?”

“I don't think it is,” replied Wilson, “ so long as I don't make a declaration on the subject which is not true.”

" But,” resumed M Clay, “ something must have happened to induce you even to go as a learner. Time was, you would have laughed at the very idea of it.”

Well, to speak frankly, Edward, I do regard these things differently; and i'll tell you a few circumstances which have led me to do so. You know what glowing hopes we once cherished of a new state of society. You remember that long walk we took of three-and-thirty miles to that we might hear Robert Owen, and that other journey of sixty miles to which we made in like manner on foot on a similar errand. You remember how on both occasions we returned, full of admiration for the man, and full of ardent hopes of the advance of society without religion, through the rational teachings and wise institutions of our great master. I can't tell you what I felt when New Lanark turned out a failure. It was not that my money was gone, that was a trifle compared with my disappointment that all my bright visions were scattered to the winds.”

“I was just as much disappointed as you were. But the failure of New Lanark did not prove that Mr. Owen's views were all wrong, but only that he found bad materials on which to work; and certainly it does not prove the Bible to be true.”

“ The failure proved to me, Edward, that his views of human nature were altogether incorrect; and I could not but suspect that if he were so completely wrong about that he might be wrong about other things too. I'll tell you something else which has had its influence with me. You know I was in Scotland last summer. When I was in

Dumfries I went to see my uncle Lomax. You know how utterly opposed he was to everything that belonged to Christianity. I believe that his reasonings, and not least, his bitterly sarcastic exposures of the inconsistencies of religious men, had very much to do with my unbelief.” .

"I remember him," said M.Clay, “Many a pleasant hour have I enjoyed in his society. I hope you found him well."

"I am sorry to say I did not,” replied Wilson. “I found him in difficulties about his business; and on inquiry I found that he had been neglecting it greatly, and that he had fallen into habits of gross intoxication. That was not all. On inquiring for his wife and daughters, he said, with some confusion, that they were not at home. It soon came out that his conduct had been such, according to his own admission, that they had been compelled to leave him. I have since heard that he has become even more abandoned than ever, and that, morally, he is a hopeless wreck. I thought when I saw and heard all this, * Well, it is only the natural fruit of the principles he held. I assure you it made a deep impression on my mind. That impression was confirmed by a visit I paid to our old friend, William Simpson. He is, you know, an elder of Mr. Carson's church. I spent a pleasant evening with him and his daughters. Everything seemed cheerful and happy. A short time before we separated the Bibles and Psalm-books were brought out, a psalm was sung and a portion of Scripture was read, and the good old man offered up a beautiful and earnest prayer. Well, now,' I thought, here are the two systems in practical operation. This happy home is what religion has made it. My uncle's infidelity has made his home a wreck.'”

“I am sorry to hear about your uncle," rejoined M-Clay ; “ but, after all, every unbeliever is not a profligate, nor is every one that believes the Bible a good man.”

“ That may be quite true," said Wilson; “ but the more I look into it the more I feel persuaded that though there may be a great many beautiful precepts propounded in infidel books, there is nothing about infidelity to make men good; whilst if a man really believes his Bible, and acts upon his belief, he will be good and happy, and he will be so in consequence of his belief. But as far as I could, I have been endeavouring to find out the truth for myself. Here is a New Testament which I bought almost a year ago. I have been surprised and delighted with its beautiful precepts, and especially with the great and noble character of Jesus Christ. I must say, that all I have been accusti tomed to admire seems very poor and worthless in comparison."

" You're pretty far gone, I think, John. I scarcely expected this of you."

“There's another thing," continued Wilson. " There's my boy. Here he is with the strong passions of youth, and surrounded by many temptations. I have been looking seriously into my old principles, to see if there were apy-. thing in them that could keep him. I found that there was nothing; and I assure you it was one strong reason for my attendance on Christian worship that he might be led right. But now it is time for service. Will you go?"

M'Clay yielded a reluctant consent. The sermon that morning had nothing in it controversial. For anything the minister said, there might not have been such a thing as infidelity in the world. It was a clear and beautiful exposition of the nature and the sources of Christian peace. M-Clay could not but listen, and sometimes his friend thought there were indications of deep feeling. As they left he said to Wilson, “ Well, John, it was very good if one could only believe it to be true.”

« Let us think about it, Edward; 'read about it, and pray about it; for I believe God does hear the prayers of inquiring souls seeking light.”

The friends separated the following morning. Since thren, Wilson has been called to die after a short illness. There gathered over his mind in his closing hours, some of the clouds of his old unbelief, but his end was not without hope. His friend was present at the funeral, and was: evidently deeply affected. As he was residing in another part of the country I have heard nothing of him since Let us hope that at the great day of account it will be manifest that the last conversations he held with Wilson were not in vain.

“WATCH AND PRAY." THESE two precepts must never be separated. They are like the links of a golden chain to be bound about the neck, written on the tablets of the heart, ever kept in romembrance. We need not resolve not to sin, or try to watch against it, without prayer, because we have no

« AnteriorContinuar »