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tions of Christians were as candid to each other, as the laws of the land are liberally framed for the protection of all.
Lweg. Upon these principles every clergyman may take out what is called a Dissenting license, at any time, if there were occasion.
Wor. If he were compelled to it, unless he hates the government, and wishes to overturn it; and then instead of protection, he deserves a gaol.
Mrs. Wor. [To Mr. Worthy.] Now, my dear, you have given your idea as a justice, about licenses; do let Mr. Lovegood tell us how it fared with him as a minister, on the Sunday.
Loveg. Madam, I found Mr. Fribble was willing that I should do the whole of the duty for him; so I read prayers and preached.
Wor. I am glad of that ; I doubt not that was a good preparatory business to the sermon: your solemn way of reading those excellent prayers has been very useful before now.
Mrs. Wor. What was your text?
Lovey. Madam, in the morning I preached upon the purity and holiness of the law, from that text, “ Be ye holy, for I am holy." You know, that is a favourite subject of mine; from thence I expatiated on the infinite holiness of God, and his law; and in the afternoon, I preached on the parable of the Prodigal Son. But it was with some difficulty I was admitted a second time into the pulpit ; for the first salutation, after the morning sermon, from Mr. Fribble, was very coarse indeed :
Sir, said he, you were too strict, you were a deal too strict for my congregation. Did I not tell you, that they would not like such harsh doctrine ? I am sure my Rector, Mr. Careless, will be very angry, if I let you preach again.” Immediately, a very sensible, sedate gentleman stepping forward, whom I afterwards found
to be one of the Churchwardens, addressed Mr. Fribble, and said : “ Sir, after such an admirable sermon, such an one as we never expect to hear from you, I am persuaded, the people of the town will be very much disappointed, if they do not hear Mr. Lovegood a second time; while many others expressed themselves with equal gratitude and thankfulness, for what they had heard.”
Wor. I suppose, after this, Mr. Fribble drew in his horns.
Loveg. Directly his apology was, that he was apt to be warm ; but begged I would be less strict in my doctrine, when I preached in the afternoon.
Wor. Sir, if you preached them such a sermon on the prodigal's return, as you once preached to us, soon after Henry Littleworth's return, it was a very affecting one indeed,
Loveg. Sir, through divine mercy, I felt the subject exceedingly; the riotous living of the prodigal, was easily exemplified by the riotous consequences of Mr. Madcap's horse race. However, I hinted but little on that low subject, before I expatiated largely on the infinitely tender love of God our Saviour, towards all returning prodigals. Then I made a distant allusion to the character of Mrs. Chipman: and, in the application, considering the circumstances which brought me there, I was much more affected, than I can express. I was so overcome that my voice at times faltered exceedingly, and I could scarcely conclude the sermon, without many tears; and, indeed, the congregation appeared not less affected than myself.
Wor. Sir, you never find our minds so seriously impressed, under a sense of divine truth, as when you feel their impressive influence on yourself. Oh! what ignorance and hardness of heart, that we are not all more affected at the glad tidings of salvation, by Jesus Christ!
Loveg. I confess, Sir, I never saw people more affected in all my life! A vouchsafement of the divine presence I trust, was very eminently upon the congregation.
Wor. Why, Sir, the Lord has promised “ to rain down righteousness upon us," and to give us " showers of blessings !" these are the happy times of “refreshment from the presence of the Lord.”
Lovey. Yes, Sir, and we have a right to expect more under the New Testament, than under the Old. Christ, in his commission to his Apostles, has entailed the same blessings upon us which he promised to them: “ I am with you always, even to the end of the world." And I really think, if ever I felt the divine presence, it was, through the mercy of God, when I was preaching at Locksbury Church. O Sir! how much we lose by expecting little ! and yet, what may we not expect, from " the exceeding great, and precious promises” of the gospel ?
Wor. And a man is to be esteemed as a downright enthusiast, if he humbly waits the fulfilment of these promises !
Loveg. It is no great difficulty to put up with the reproach of the world, while we realize those blessings, so frequently promised in the word of God. But there is a wide difference between the enthusiastical reveries of some, and these boly influences from above, which are so wise in their operations, and so gracious in their consequences, as they are exemplified by the peaceable fruits of righteousness, which are produced thereby.
Mrs. Wor. Dear Sir, you know we are delighted to hear this sort of good news. We wish you to be more particular. I suppose the Church was very full ?
Loveg. O madam, the Church was crowded. The curiosity of the people, all round the country, was highly excited ; not only by the return of Mrs. Chipman, but also from the character Mr. Fribble gave of me, that I was a very great orator.
Wor. Motives of mere idle curiosity are frequently over-ruled for an abundance of good.
Loveg. Such was the case there ; for it was amazing with what affection and kindness the people received the word; how gratefully they expressed themselves to Mr. Reader for inviting me; and how earnestly many of them sought my acquaintance. Mr. Reader therefore hinted my design of introducing family-worship in his school-room in the evening of the day. The whisper soon circulated, and the school-room was crowded.
Wor. This was a good sign.
Loveg. Yes, Sir, and the effects of it were not less pleasant to my own mind, after that service, which was very serious, and I trust profitable. Many of the people came about me, and pressed me to continue with them another Sunday; mentioning how lamentably they were served between Mr. Fribble and his Rector ; and that the next parish, contiguous to theirs, was worse off still, as it was served by one Jack Bully, who was a complete blackguard.* I told them how happy I should be to comply with their request, but that my own parochial charge absolutely demanded my attendance ; yet if they could procure the pulpit for me, I would take the earliest opportunity to repeat my visit.
Wor. Your visit to Locksbury was attended with * His character must be omitted from the general list, as it would be too bad for public perusal, only that he was a great advocate for boxing, and bull-baiting ; I suppose also for cockfighting, and cudgel-playing; in order to give people an heroic spirit, and keep them steady to the Church, that they may not be seduced by the enthusiastic spirit of the day. Some speeches in the House of Commons were exhibited about that time entirely of this stamp
much more desirable consequences, than your visit to Grediton. But do not you think, you have already done too much mischief against the religion, (as I suppose they call it) of Mr. Fribble and his Rector, to expect a second admission into the pulpit ?
Loveg. Sir, I am told that Mr. Careless does not mind who preaches, provided his parishioners are pleased, and he is left at liberty to do what he likes best; and as to his poor insignificant curate, he is nobody.
Wor. Hardly fit to be candle snuffer to a card-table. What an evil when such men are entrusted with the care of immortal souls ! and what a curse to the people who have them for their ministers! Mrs. Wor. Sir, we now do not wonder that
did not come home till Saturday evening, as you were so well engaged at Locksbury.
Loveg. Madam, I found it impossible to leave them till the latest moment I could allow for their service. Many, even among the respectable inhabitants, invited me to pass the evening with them, that they might enjoy the same privilege of family prayer, which they had at Mr. Reader's ; and as to the poor, I was almost universally accosted by them, requesting me to repeat my visit, and inviting me into their houses; and on this occasion, I found that the bundle of little religious tracts you gave me for distribution, were very serviceable indeed.—Sir, I humbly trust there is a work of grace begun in the hearts of many in that town, which has laid a foundation for much future good.
Wor. One would think you had scarcely an opponent left throughout the town.
Loveg. O Sir, notwithstanding the general goodwill of the inhabitants, the gospel, as in all other places, had its opponents. Dr. Rationality, the physician, Mr. Pestle, the apothecary, and Mr. Proveall, the mathe