Page images
[ocr errors]


views on this subject cannot possibly deceive themselves in this manner. Hence the importance of studying the law, and regarding it as our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ: for when any individual is convinced that he is condemned on every side by the law, he sees himself compelled to fly for safety to the Gospel.

But, to leave the law in general, and to recur to that particular part of it now chosen for our consideration, let us meditate upon these words, viz. "Thou shalt do no murder;' and endeavour thoroughly to comprehend the nature of that thing from which we are here commanded to abstain.

“Thou shalt do no murder :' that is, thou shalt not cause or countenance the death of


fellow-creature. The question then is, What is this death which we are forbidden to inflict?

In reply, I remark, that, as man partakes of a twofold nature, so that by which alone he can be wholly destroyed must also be of a two-fold nature. The first death is, therefore, two-fold, namely, temporal and spiritual; besides which there is a second death, that takes place when the first death is completed."

The lady then proceeded to describe the several parts and natures of the first and second death, and spoke to this effect

Temporal Death is the separation of the soul from the body.

Spiritual Death is the separation of soul and body from God's favour in this life, which is the natural state of all unregenerate persons, who are all destitute of the quickening powers of grace.

Eternal Death (called the second death) consists in the everlasting separation of the whole man from God.

“And as the first death is two-fold,” continued the lady of the manor, “and is followed by a second death; so also is the first life two-fold, consisting of the natural and spiritual life, and these are succeeded by that which is eternal. Adam, by his disobedience, made his children liable to death in all its forms; and Christ, by his obedience, abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light. (2 Tim. i. 10.) All living creatures on earth are subject to temporal death; all unregenerate persons are under the dominion of spiritual death; and

my own

all men who die unrenewed will be delivered over to eternal death. Temporal death is the mildest and least to be dreaded of any of these modes of death: and hence the Saviour provides no exemption from this, which is, at most, but a light affliction, enduring only for a moment; but, on the contrary, calls on his children to submit to it with joy and rejoicing, inasmuch as it promotes their entrance into glory.

“I have now,” continued the lady of the manor,

explained to you, my dear children, the nature of death; and will proceed next to point out the various modes in which that commandment which saith, “Thou shalt do no murder,' may be transgressed.

“If," proceeded the lady of the manor, “I, through design or negligence, hasten the dissolution of my own body or that of any other human being, I am, in fact, guilty of murder. If I privately desire the death of any one in order to advance what I


to be interest, I am guilty of murder in thought and before God. For it is written, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. (1 John iii. 15.) All ambitious and vindictive expressions partake of the nature of murder, and frequently tend to it in a direct way. All wars and fightings, except in actual self-defence, and after all other means have been tried without success to preserve peace, undoubtedly partake of the same character. But inasmuch as wars between nations are commonly beyond the province of females in retired life, I say the less on this part of my subject; only remarking, that it should be the object of every woman on all occasions to promote peace, and to inspire the mind of her husband, brothers, or sons, with the dread of occasioning death in any form.

It is, I trust,” continued the lady of the manor, “almost needless, in the present day, to remark that the practice of duelling is nothing more nor less than a genteel

way of committing murder; and I am sorry to add, that I fear there are few duels of which women, if not the occasions, are not the instigators and promoters. It is astonishing how careless even some of the fondest mothers are in the sentiments which they utter before their sons on the subject of duelling, and how they maintain those sentiments of false honour which cherish this practice, so contrary to every principle of that religion generally professed in this country. It is remarkable also, that nearly all female novel-writers formerly maintained the necessity of duelling; and even some at the present day are guilty of the same offence against morality. This same cruel and bloodthirsty spirit may also be observed to pervade every page of the ancient writings of the heathen; and it is in this particular that I consider these writings as being more contrary to the spirit of Christianity than in any other circumstance belonging to them. Granting that it were possible to weed the classic writers from such passages as offend a delicate ear on other subjects, I maintain, that it would be as impossible to clear them of their vainglorious and cruel sentiments, as it would be to separate the warp and woof, and yet leave the weaver's work in any other state than that of a mere confused heap of threads and ends.

But, as much has been said on a former occasion on the subject of heathen writers in your presence, my dear young people, I shall here be the less diffuse; and proceed to remark, that all historians, without any other exception than those of the sacred records, abet the cause of war, bloodshed, and murder. Not one of these, as far as I can recollect, explains the causes of war to be what they are, viz. the lusts and passions of mankind, or makes the proper

distinction between the real hero, who gives up his life in defence of his country,

and the

conquerer who indulges his lust of victory at the expence of thousands of his fellow-creatures.

“ It may also be observed,” continued the lady, “ that the greater number of the admired poets of the present day, like so many bloodhounds, (if the expression may be allowed me,) mingle in the same cry; and in their writings bloodshed and murder of every description are exalted to heaven under the name of glory. This spirit, so contrary to Christianity, mixes itself more or less in most conversations, and is as frequently supported by the smiles of females as by the approbation of the hardier sex.”

Here the lady of the manor paused, and the young ladies expressed some astonishment, or, rather, something like alarm, at finding themselves, and even the whole world, implicated in one dreadful charge.

My dear young people,” returned the lady, “be not surprised to find yourselves thus condemned. Have I not from the first laboured to convince you of sin in general, and does it astonish you to find that you are also under condemnation in every particular? How is it possible for you so to have read the Holy Scriptures, as not yet to be convinced that you are individually guilty of the death of Christ, and that you repeat this offence whenever you coinmit sin? Every one who, after having known the way of righteousness, turns away from thence, crucifies to himself the Son of God afresh, and again puts the Holy One to open shame. Murderers then we all are, my dear young people, and by nature the children of him who was a murderer from the beginning."

“What you say, Madam, is certainly true," replied Miss Emmeline; “but I never saw this subject in such a light before: for it is only a very short time since I should have said with Hazael, Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?

The lady of the manor then proceeded to make the following observations. “ The human race, my beloved young people, are, in the Scriptures, classed into two orders; viz. those who are led by the Spirit of God, and those who live according to the flesh.

These are so mingled with each other in society, and are frequently so confounded by human weakness and the remaining influence of sin on the one hand, and worldly wisdom and cunning on the other, that no mere man, however discerning, is able accurately to distinguish, on all occasions, between the real child of God and the mere professor. As, we, however, are not to judge each other, it is not necessary for us to look any further into these matters than may be requisite to our right understanding of the Christian character in general. I have laboured, in our examination of those commandments which have already passed before us, to shew their spiritual nature and tendency; and not only to prove that we are condemned by each, but also to explain the faultless obedience which is required of every individual-an obedience which no mere man has ever yet been able to accomplish. It is now my wish to state to you the nature of that principle in the creature which, being

[ocr errors]

followed up to its end, is neither more nor less than universal destruction, ruin, and death.

“ It is certain, that the Almighty, in his infinite wisdom, has allowed to all men (to speak only of this earth) their times, and the bounds of their habitation. Every mortal has his appointed season, and his allotted dwelling-place; and to walk his little time on earth in that his prescribed place, with humility and obedience, is the sum of human wisdom. To do that which the Lord would have him do, to mark the notices of the divine will, and to be ready to go and come at the divine command,- this is the substance of religion; and is dictated by that spirit, which, were it to become universal, would restore the glories of Eden, and make the earth one universal paradise. But the unregenerated man, and he who is but partially delivered from the bonds of Satan, is unable to understand this mystery. He cannot content himself with his situation on earth, and is always anxious either to quit his appointed place, or to vary its attendant circumstances. He always desires something which he sees in the possession of others; and is only restrained from depriving them of the objects desired, by want of power, fear of punishment, dread of shame, or, if he be partly reformed, by something like principle, which prevents him from actually causing that evil to his neighbour in which he still secretly rejoices when occasioned by another.

• But, in order to understand the ultimate tendency of this spirit, we must divest it of its restraints; we must remove the hedges of thorns with which the Lord, in his infinite mercy, so frequently encompasses the ways of those whose salvation he has sworn to accomplish: and we must endue the individual who is actuated by this spirit, with temporal power, with talents, and with health; and then we shall not long be left without a proof, that the character which aims to advance self is neither more nor less than that of a murderer, and that religion itself often proves too weak to restrain such an one from sacrificing every other feeling to that of his own exaltation.

“In order, my dear young people," continued the lady of the manor, “ to open your minds on this subject, I would strongly recommend to your attention the study

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »