« EelmineJätka »
BETWEEN THE FAMILY OF THE LITTLEWORTHS AND MR. AND MRS. STEADYMAN.
A SUNDAY EVENING'S CONVERSATION UPON THE MERCIES
OF GOD IN THE JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION OF THE UNGODLY.
Steadyman, not having sufficient time to return home between the services, carried their provision with them into Thomas Newman's house, and there partook of it. After the second service they returned, and supper being ended, the following conversation took place :
Steadyman. Well, sister Littleworth, I never spent such a Sunday as this before. [To his wife.] Mistress, I wish you had been with us. I never saw such a serious and devout congregation, and never heard such a sermon since I was born. And then we ate our dinners at Thomas Newman's house, the poor man that works for my brother.
What a good man he is! and what a charming family he has got! I counted seven of them, and I think his wife is near her time again*; and what a wonderful prayer he
• It is now upwards of three years since the farmer became seriousThis accounts for the addition of another child since that period (see Di. alogue I.), and explains at the same time an odd report how the Farmer was overheard " talking to the devil behind the hedge.” The fact was, the Farmer hearing that Thomas's wife had produced another child,
made before we all went again to church. We do not serve God in our parts any thing like as they do here. I never saw any thing like religion as I have seen it this day.
Mrs. Steadym. Why, Nathaniel, what can possess you to talk about religion in this manner ? Well, if I did not always suspect what would become of this visit, as well as Mr. Dulman.
Mrs. Littlew. I let my husband go his way, and I go mine; and I find I am quite as happy since he has taken to religion as ever we were before.
Steadym. Well, never did I hear any minister from the beginning to the end lay open the Bible in a manner like him. I am sure I should never stay at home if I could hear at Ruckford a minister like Mr. Lovegood. If I can I think I shall go to hear poor Mr. Meek, the Welshman, for he is supposed to be the most like him of any man in our parts. But O how he explained, as he called it, the way of salvation for ruined sinners by Jesus Christ! Though I have read so much of it in the Bible, and have heard so much about it, yet I wonder at myself, how I could be so ignorant what these things could mean.
Hen. Why, to be sure, he preached us two excellent sermons, but to me it appears as though every sermon he preached ivas better and better. what a blessing we have in that most dear man of God! and what a mercy it would be, if in every parish there were such ministers to instruct the ig
went to their house, and gave the family half a crown. On his return he was overheard grumbling and muttering against himself for his covetousness, declaring that the deyil his old master should not have his ends. He therefore returned direcʻly to Thomas's house, and said, “ Thomas, this won't do, I must have my half crown again." Thomas not a little surprised at this unexpected demand, restored the gift, and the farmer put a seven shilling piece in the room of it, and it was in this way the farmer conversed with the devil behind the hedge.
norant. It is his very heart's delight to go about doing good to the souls of his people.
Steadym. I must conless, when I heard him in the desk, I liked him wonderfully, but in the pulpit, what a man he is ! and with what love and affection he preaches! his heart seems to feel every word he says. But I rather wondered at his text, “ By the law is the knowledge of sin.” How wisely he explained it! I did not know there was such a text. in all the Bible.
Hen. And did you not admire how he set forth the purity and holiness of God, both in his nature and in his law? That as he was infinitely holy in himself, so he must hate sin, whether committed by apostate men or angels, in an infinite degree; that we had not only to consider our outward actions before man, but the state of our hearts inwardly before God; that it was said, “ Blessed are the pure in heart,” for they, and they only, “ shall see God.”
Steadym. Why, I had always understood that if we were but just and honest before man, it was quite enough How well he explained that text, « Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no flesh living be justified !” that though we might be justified by our actions in the sight of man, yet that none of us could be justified in the sight of God, as his holy nature abhorred the inward sinfulness of our hearts.
Far. Ah, dear brother how glad I am to hear you talk after this fashion ! Because I did not deserve to stand before the Justice for my wicked deeds. I thought I had righteousness enough to stand before the Lord himself. How could I suppose myself a Christian, while I thought no more about the salvation of my soul by Jesus Christ, than the dead folk do in our church-yard at Mapleton.
Hen. But while he pointed out the nature of God, did you not mind, uncle, how he' explained to us that every wicked sinner in a state of enmity against God, lived with a heli in his own heart, while he was “ living without God in the world.”
Steadym. Yes. And I remember he said, that every sinner was his own tormentor by his wickedness.
Hen. I suppose you mean that part of his sermon in which he was proving how every person who was tormented with anger, malice, or revenge, was a most cruel self-tormentor; and that covetousness shut up a man's heart not onlý against all mankind, but against himself, and that therefore he was à self-tormentor. These, he said, were a set of devilish self-tormentors. Then he talked of a set of beastly self-tormentors; and all that he said against these evil ways I have experienced to be true, most sadly to my own cost. In those days I should not have cared if I had broken my father's and my mother's hearts, if I could but have got their property to have spent it in my wicked projects. [Henry is affected and weeps; the Farmer is also much affected, and adds]
Fur. See, brother, how wonderfully the grace of God has changed the heart of my dear child! how different he is now to what he was before he went to sca! And you know what a poor, thoughtless, worldly-minded sinner I was before I took to go and hear Mr. Lovegood.
Steadym. Why, I confess, brother, I see something in religion that I never thought of before, and all that I have been hearing to-day seems to me to be so true, that there is no disputing against i'.
Hen. Yes, uncle, and I was glad for your sake that you were there; for it appeared to me as clear
as the light, what Mr. Lovegood said of the law, that it was the revelation of the mind and will of an infinitely holy God among all his creatures; that therefore the least sin, in the least degree, must put us under the condemnation of that law; that if God could in any measure allow sin, or look over it upon account of our corruption, such sinful actions would be no longer unlawful actions, (and what a contradiction that would bc) for “where there is no law there is no transgression.”
Stearlym. Indeed, Mr. Henry, it appears to me that I might have gone all the days of my life to hear Mr. Dulman at Ruckford, and still continued as ig. norant of the law as if I had been a downright heathen. Nay, as for my part, I do not know that I ever heard any thing further about the law than what a heathen may practise quite as well as a Christian. At one time we are told we must not get drunk; then that we must not curse and swear ; then that we should pay our debts; and then that we must come to church and keep the sabbath. Now I had never any inclination to do otherwise between man and man; but we never hear any thing to the purpose how the heart of man should be before a pure and holy God.
Far. Aye, and just in the same way Mr. Dolittle used to “ daub me over with his untempered mortar;" for though I was never so strict and moral, as you have been, brother Steadyman, yet as I kept pretty tight to my church, and used to act goodnaturedly towards my neighbours, and as our pa: son used to say of me when he used to hear of me in my tipsy fits, I had a good heart at bottom, I thought if I had religion enough to please him, I need not concern myself about any thing further ; especially as I thought he could do such wonderful things for me when I came to die, by the assistance of the holy sacrament and his absolution.