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the Doctor had to preach the visitation sermon before the Bishop, he outdid all the nonsense that was ever before exhibited in a palpit.
Mer. What was the specimen of divinity he exhibited on that occasion ?
Loveg. It may be necessary that you should first hear the text, before I tell you the application of it: “Blessed bé the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Eph. i. 3.
Mer. In the name of wonder, and of common sense, what could he, what could any man make out from that text, but to exemplify the high state of spirituality, to which believers are called by the grace, and spirit of the gospel?
Loveg. In these instances, I believe 'wonders will never cease; for he first profoundly remarked, that the clergy were the people who were, “sitting in heavenly places in Christ;" and then observed, that their office itself so operated upon them, that if they were bad men before they were in holy orders, yet when once they were promoted to one of these heavenly places in Christ Jesus, they must in course be made good.
Mer. What, by a sort of spiritual legerdemain I suppose; however that was not the case with me. But how did he prove this egregious nonsense ?
Loveg. You know there is no proving nonsense; but he first observed that the clergy, when they christened the children, could not but be reminded thereby of their own baptismal vows, and that prevented their breaking them: that visiting the sick, and burying the dead, would also remind them of their mortality; and that would render it impossible for them to lead wicked lives; and as to administering the holy sacrament, that could not but operate as a charm to make them holy too; and that reading the prayers and lessons, as appointed in the ser
vice of the church, must remind them of their duty, and direct them in the practice of it; and thus they were all, from their mere office, made good.
Mer. Is it possible that he could believe his own nonsense, when so directly contrary to matters of fact ?
Loveg. Whether he or others believed it I cannot tell ; it seems, however, that so he preached : and though the Doctor has the misfortune to be a remarkably high churchman, insomuch, that when he came to consider the religion of the country from whence he purchased his diploma, he could scarcely sleep for three nights together, on account of the evils he apprehended from his Presbyterian degree; yet when he preached his famous visitation sermon, he was liberal in the extreme; for though he said it was certain, that the religion of the established clergy was the best that could be, and must therefore make them the best men; yet he supposed the religion of the Dissenting clergy made them good also, though it could not be admitted that it made them so good as the church clergy.*
Wor. What contemptible popish trash! but I wish you would tell us something better worth our hearing, than this strange nonsense. How did you finish the
Loveg. Sir, young Mr. Lovely begged I might do with them as I do at your house, expound a chapter, and give them a prayer; and I trust it was not without the divine blessing. The only person who appeared dissatisfied, as it was new work to them all, was the old lady, She is terribly afraid I shall make her son “righteous over much ;" and has strange apprehensions, if that be the case, he will squander away all his money by giving it among
* An epitome of a sermon which the author heard at a Visitation.
Wor. She has quite the family failing, then.
Loveg. I fear she and Mr. Lovely's father, though married, were never matched; she is perpetually tormenting the servant about wearing out mops too fast, drinking too much small beer, and wasting the brown sugar; spending so much for provisions on the dog and cat, suffering themselves to be cheated by purchasing such small half-pennyworths of sand; so that their maid-servants are seldom with her longer than when they have seen about two or three full moons, and then they are off; but as to Mr. Lovely's father, all these poor casts-off gave him the best of characters, wherever they went.
Mrs. Wor. No wonder that Mrs. Lovely should keep back from going with her husband to see such a motherin-law, though they loved each other so much.
Wor. I suppose he returned on the Monday ?
Loveg. Yes, Sir; and on the Wednesday, when I had engaged to return, Mr. Lovely requested me to accept fifty pounds for my travelling expences. I immediately told him that I should feel like a down-right Gehazi, Elisha's mercenary servant, if I accepted more than was necessary to bring me back to my own door: however he would not let me come away with less than twenty pounds, and before my arrival the other thirty were sent, in a most affectionate letter, as a present to my eldest daughter, with a hope soon to meet again.
After this Mr. Lovegood further related a conversation he had on his return in the stage to Brookfield, with old Dame Gossiper, who was very religious in her way, and who hoped to be saved by the help of “ her church, her parson, and her good God:” but as the writer has scarcely any time to compose these Dialogues, except at a late hour when all is silent, he wishes to drop a conversation somewhat less interesting, while nature demands her accustomed rest,
THE HAPPY MARRIAGE. Two days after Mr. Lovegood's return from Mr. Lovely's, the intended union between Mr. Merryman and Miss Worthy took place. The event soon transpired in all the neighbourhood, and they were saluted with the following hymn, accompanied with instrumental music:
In Paradise the joy began,