페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

children cannot understand these things, the Word of Truth says that even babes and sucklings can perfect God's praise.

"I cannot write much about the miserable time when I lost my own dear uncle, and was sent to school. He was taken away suddenly, as young people sometimes are, as well as old; but to the last he knew his little Barbara, and his last words to me were, 'Farewell, my little one; you will remember what I have told you of the Redeemer, and of the love of the Father and of the Holy Spirit; all other wisdom beside the knowledge of the love of God, is foolishness, my own, my gentle one. Oh! I am blessed,' he added; 'words cannot tell'-and he never spoke again.

"And this,' said Mr. Watson-this is the youth they called a fool!' Oh! would to God the world were filled with such fools. Farewell, my dear Miss Emmeline, I cannot-no I cannot-add another line."

M. M. S.

(To be continued.)

THE THREE WORDS.

Ir was "The Office of the Holy Week, according to the Roman Missal and Breviary"-published with the authority of that church, and recognized as a faithful guide by all true papists!

The thought at once flashed through the mind of Mr. Singleton, that possibly his niece had gone much farther from the truth and simplicity of the gospel than he had previously suspected. The limit of his fear had been that she might have fallen into some of the errors of Tractarianism; but now he was unwillingly led to suppose that she had sunk still deeper. Had the forms, and superstitious observances, and circumstances of outward pomp and shew, connected with the religion of the Tractarians, led her to look into the absurd and idolatrous associations by which the Romish church endeavors to throw around them an atmosphere of mystery, of poetry, and blind devotion? And had she gone farther than her instructor dared to do, from mercenary motives, and the fear of forfeiting the morsel of bread exacted under false pretences from his misled parishioners ?-Had she, in fact, become a Romanist?

He had not failed to mark the confusion of Emma, as he

glanced with ill-affected indifference over the pages of the little book; but it was some time before he could make up his mind to put a question, which he feared might lead to results at once fatal to his own peace of mind, and deeply distressing to the feelings of his niece. At last, however, he said in a kind and half-earnest manner, as if his apparent indifference would lighten the weight of the reply-“ Emma, are you a papist ?”

Some of our readers will, perhaps, be all anxiety for a reply ; but those who can realize the feelings of both uncle and niece at this crisis, will not, we are sure, expect one. Emma could read so exactly the spirit and temper in which this important enquiry had been framed, that she found it impossible to summon resolution sufficient for the task. Had it been put in any other form she could have evaded it. Had it been proposed in less real kindness of heart, she could have made up her mind to risk a reply. Had it come from any one beside her uncle, she would have felt comparative indifference as to consequences. But asked as it was in plainest terms, with unaffected tenderness and deep concern, and by one more dear than all the world beside, what could mere words have done in explanation of the problem, even had they been forthcoming?

We need scarcely describe further the embarrassment of Emma. She knew how her silence would necessarily be interpreted, and she could not bear the discourtesy of allowing Mr. Singleton to answer his own question in this way, yet she dared do nothing else; and her agitated manner shewed too plainly that her uncle's surmise was not far from the truth. The terrible disclosure was made, and from that moment he felt painfully assured that Emma Singleton was an avowed papist. The prevailing emotion, however, in his mind was that of deep sympathy for the deluded girl; he saw that she had been cruelly "wounded in the house of her friends," and despising small things, she had unhappily fallen by little and little. He could therefore feel for her, and weep with her. Yet he now and then experienced, as holy Paul had done under circumstances strikingly similar, when his Galatian converts had been treacherously won over to another gospel which was not another, those risings of holy indignation, which found utterance in the heartfelt ejaculation, "I would they were even cut off that trouble you!"

It was some time before the feelings of either party were sufficiently tranquilized to allow of any conversation on the disclosures of that evening; but at length the subject was opened by Mr. Singleton.

"Well, Emma,” said he, "I should like to know by what process you have arrived at this melancholy conclusion? There may be still hope that if once plainly shewn your error, you may be induced to retrace your steps and return to your first love. You are not, I presume, pledged to any public avowal of your principles, and I trust, may by God's grace, be brought back to the Great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, without any of those distressing circumstances which must have attended your return, had you made an open profession of your opinions."

Though uttered in the kindest spirit, these few words again opened the flood-gates of grief in the mind of Emma. Had her uncle at once supposed the worst-nay, had he gone farther, and imagined her to have been more deeply immersed in the superstitions, and enslaved by the lying wonders of Romanism than she really was—it would have pained her far less than this considerate and charitable view of the case. Her own conscience, and her uncle's tenderness were brought into trying conflict, and her thoughts, alternately accusing and excusing, could find no vent in words. She sighed deeply, and on being pressed more closely, gave Mr. Singleton to understand, though not in direct terms, that she had already given notice of her desire to be publicly received into the bosom of the Catholic church at no very distant day.

We need not particularize the scene which followed this confession. It must suffice to say that Mr. Singleton, seeing no probability of turning the present occasion to much profitable purpose, and unwilling that his niece should be swayed by mere impulse, or borne down by feelings which he feared might be in a great measure the result of those peculiar circumstances under which they had now met, declined to enter into any controversy respecting the great question at issue. He contented himself with eliciting a few of the reasons which Emma urged in extenuation of her conduct, and which, shorn of all their affecting accessories, and divested of a few incoherences of expression, will

be given presently. We shall, however, preface them with a few general remarks.

The letting in of heresies, is very like the letting out of water. It begins with words, goes on to things indifferent, and is consummated by an entire repudiation of the great doctrines of the gospel. It had been so in the melancholy case before us. The minister, had become the "priest;" the Lord's table, "the altar;" and the feast of memorial, the "Eucharistic Mystery." The reading, the singing, the responses, the attitude of the worshippers, the arrangement of the several parts of the church, its furniture and ornaments-all these admitted of, or required, such alterations as might prove "aids to devotion." But Devotion has two daughters, and the oldest is blind. Her name is IgnoThe younger and meeker, Piety, is unobtrusive, and as such, but little known. She it is who "prays in secret," and her "manner of prayer" is not for the million. It was consequently in the school of the first-born of these daughters, that the forms of worship sought to be introduced were studied. And they were well worthy of their parentage, for they inevitably led on to one or other of these alternatives-either they were altogether soulless and without a meaning, the mere husks and shells of superstition; or they possessed a symbolism only to be opened and unriddled by a full acquaintance with the lying legends and mystical associations of Romanism.

rance.

It was this last point which laid deep hold on the judgment of Emma Singleton. For, captivated and darkened as that judgment was, it was, nevertheless, far superior to that abject and drivelling thing miscalled reason, possessed by others in a similar position. Drawn gradually into the silly forms of Puseyism, she longed, naturally enough, to know something of their original meaning and associations. To call anything by a certain name, without knowing what that name meant; or to perform any act, without knowing more about it than that it was an act, appeared to her so childish and inane a thing, that her mind could not rest till she had looked beyond the mere name or act into its recondite import. She felt that love was the very heart of true worship, and that love could burn freely only in a clear and transparent atmosphere. To use her own simile, there was a sense of oppression in all her public acts of religion, rendered the more

distressing by an intense inward yearning to throw it off, and worship without doubt or distraction, in the full light of an affection spiritualized and refined from above. Coleridge defines music to be the twilight between instinct and reason; and this was exactly Emma's view of the mere pomp of Puseyism. It was an imposing but painful mystery; a shadow without any substance; a mean without an end; an instrument without an object. It was not therefore to be wondered at that she was anxious to look farther than her instructor. Speaking, amongst other innovations introduced at Springclose, of the splendid gilt cross floriated and jewelled, which Mr. Glossenfane had placed upon the altar, she described, with much emphasis, the intensity of those feelings which it excited in her own ardent mind, as contrasted with the cold formality and indifference of others among the congregation; adding that she felt herself under this impulse almost constrained to give to that precious symbol the full measure of adoration conceded to it by the papists.

The statement, fearful though it was, was undoubtedly made in all sincerity, and though framed in genuine feeling, it threw the whole power of the contrast-not between Protestantism and Romanism, but between a heartless and abject form of Puseyism, and the warm, but meretricious and soul-destroying rites of Popery; between a cold, showy, and unmeaning observance, and a ceremonial which was, at all events, significant and figurative, however awfully abused.

Mr. Singleton felt not at all disposed to discuss the comparative merits of Puseyism and Popery; he looked, in fact, upon the first, as the royal road to the second; and it had certain features which in his own mind rendered it even more odious than the other, inasmuch as he remembered, not without feelings of peculiar anguish, the lesson he had himself learned from a dear relative, now deceased-" C'est le premier pas qui coute." The first step towards error is at once the most difficult and dangerous-not indeed that in our fallen natures any step in that direction is difficult, for all are far too easy; but because everything is what it is by comparison. Puseyism, therefore, as the first step to popery, was likely to find little mercy at the hands of Mr. Singleton. He detested, too, the awful hypocrisy of those men who, while Romanists at heart, (if heart be any word in

« 이전계속 »