Изображения страниц




THE writer of these Dialogues, begs to apologize for his old and useful friend, Thomas Newman, who first introduced himself into his imagination; as it respects his fears, a little selfish I confess, lest Mr. Lovegood should be made the Archbishop of Canterbury.* His mind was perfectly correct; his ideas of the distribution of such high ecclesiastical preferments, were not only as honourable to the state, as they were respectful to the characters who should be promoted to receive them.

Who then can presume to cast a second smile on the simple supposition, as it originated with this honest peasant, that such a man as Mr. Lovegood should be thus preferred :—a minister so truly pious and devoted to God; with so much judgment and wisdom; with so much purity and integrity; with so much simplicity and godly sincerity; so completely delivered from all the fleshly wisdom of the world; who could address a country congregation with such lovely familiarity, and yet with such solemn dignity, so as to make the wisest to wonder, and the most unlettered to understand? who could reason, alarm, allure, as the subject required: in

* See Dialogue II.

short, who had no fault but his over-modesty; while at the same time, he was possessed of every ability, capable of rendering him truly splendid and great. At one time a Paul in argument; then an Apollos in eloquence; next a Peter in bold simplicity; and at other times, not less a John in childlike familiarity on the one hand, when the language of a Boanerges was necessary, such a son of thunder was he, that his auditory would stand trembling before him, struck with astonishment and holy awe; and when the balmy language of a Barnabas was required, he proved such a son of consolation also, that no man living was better qualified to bind up the broken-hearted with so much tenderness and love.

Notwithstanding Thomas Newman's selfishness, who would not wish for at least episcopal honours, on behalf of such a man of God as this?-Happy therefore, shall I be, if this slight sketch of a character so great and good, might be the means of making known his excellent worth, so that he may be called to fill the next vacant Bishopric, whether great or small; and long in that situation may he live, to lay his hallowed hands on many wise heads, with upright hearts, who shall prove themselves "workmen that need not be ashamed;" to the honour and credit of the established Church, and to the salvation of thousands, who love to worship within her sacred walls.

One circumstance I acknowledge, I fear may operate against such high preferment, being conferred on such a man, however eminent and good. It must be observed, that he rather made a breach in his accustomed ecclesiastical good manners, while by the imperious command of a hungry, starving company of sinners, he was compelled to make use of an assembly-room, when it was not in his power to procure a Church. What could he do? what must others of the regular Clergy do under the like devotedness of spirit, under the same fervent desire

[ocr errors]

for the salvation of souls? Let charity when pressed by similar feelings plead their cause, before a contracted spirit presumes to condemn.

Doubtless, the Rev. Mr. Bellweather will make known the crimes of this ecclesiastical delinquent, far and wide; let envy, like the serpent, lick the file, as long as its envenomed tongue can last. Mr. Lovegood is still the same, while his very faults prove his fitness for the episcopal office. Give him but a Bishopric, and he can command all the Churches in his diocese at his will: he wants but scope equal to his wisdom and zeal, and then he will act regularly in course; and under such a call, at least, as I conjecture, may we not ask the question, where shall we find the Bishop upon earth, however warmed by his indefatigable zeal; though like Bishop Jewel, who wished to die preaching; who shall outshine the character of Bishop Lovegood, in his unwearied labours for the salvation of souls? Oh! that such heavenly-minded men, may never be wanted to fill that sacred office in our British Sion! then shall the Church be blessed indeed, while men so truly great and good shall be made the instruments of conferring the solemn character on others also, not less diligent and devoted than renowned, though retired, vicar of Lower Brookfield himself.

Sorry am I, that my kind readers have now to be in the company of this excellent servant of God for the last time. That the lovely peasant, Thomas Newman, that the simple-hearted Farmer Littleworth, his truly converted son Henry, his worthy sister Nancy, Mrs. Traffic, and their family, the judicious Mr. Considerate, and his family, the plain and honest Mr. Steadyman, the truly catholic and mild-spirited dissenting minister, Mr. Peaceful, the deeply wounded, and contrite Mrs. Chipman, the serious and reflecting Mr. Reader, the most amiable and delightful Mr. and Mrs. Lovely, the plea

sant and lively Mr. Merryman, and the very admirable and respectable family of the Worthys :-sorry I am to say, that after this last Dialogue they are to appear no more. And let such characters, held forth as a warning, which have been brought forward as a contrast to their excellent qualifications, vanish from our imaginations without regret.

And should the writer of these Dialogues have so conducted himself, that he can be followed by his readers, even to the last page of the publication, without a nod; while they are read as an evening's entertainment, even to a late hour, he shall not regret the many late hours he also has spent, in prosecuting the work ; and especially if any of his dear readers should be brought near to God thereby.

The general invitation given at the conclusion of the last Dialogue, brought on the Monday, to the family repast of the hospitable Mr. Worthy, the following guests: Mr. Lovegood, Mr. and Mrs. Considerate, and Farmer Littleworth. After the accustomed how do you do salutations, the good old farmer thus began.

Far. An't please your honour, my dear child Harry, did insist upon it that I should come to-day agreeably to your honour's invitation, and that he would stay at home at this busy time, to mind the farm, especially as my poor daughter has got a letter from her husband, which old Nelly Trot brought from the post-office to our house yesterday, after we returned from Brookfield Church ;-and I should be very glad of a little of your honour's good advice upon the subject. Poor fellow! he writes in a very humble style. What a mercy it will be, if the Lord brings about the salvation of his soul by these sore afflictions!

[The farmer gives Mr. Worthy the letter.]

Wor. Mr. Littleworth, would you wish me to read it out?

Far. O yes, Sir, I should like that Mr. Considerate and our minister may hear it, that we may all consult together. [The letter is read to the company.]


"You must have heard from your brother Henry, how my wicked and unworthy life has been preserved, by that worthy gentleman, Mr. Lovely, the high-sheriff, who brought us a pardon from the Judge, just when we were all ordered to prepare for death. What a merciful man Mr. Lovely has proved himself to be! And as to Mr. Lovegood, oh! that I had not despised him as I have done! for I am sure in despising such men, I have been setting at nought my own good, all my days. I now see and feel it was through the most vile wickedness of my heart, that the whole of my life has been so abominably profane. What Mr. Lovegood preaches from the pulpit, I now know must be true, and the fruit of his preaching has been so set before us in the wonderful change that has appeared on your Father, your Brother, and your Sister Nancy, as should shame us, while we cannot but admire what the grace of God has wrought on them.

"O my dear Patty! let me entreat you no longer to be regardless of what your good old Father has to say. Do not grieve his heart; do not send him any more, as we have often done, with tears of sorrow to his bed, by neglecting family prayer, and by despising his good advice. I know he was right, and that we were wrong; tell him I beg his pardon in the most humble manner, for all that I have done to grieve him; beg your aged Mother also to forgive me and your Brother to pray for me. what a happy life he has led, since God has changed


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »