Изображения страниц

were no better than myself, ridicule every idea of divine influences; and when I also had in the bundle of my sermons, that I had either bought, borrowed, or begged, three that were designed to expose such pretensions to divine operations as being nothing better than downright enthusiasm. In short Sir, I could neither bear my office, nor bear myself on account of my office; and no one can tell what I used to feel, when I was under the necessity of administering the sacrament, and how I used to dread and hate the return of those days, when I had to repeat these words, "the remembrance of our sins is grievous unto us, and the burden of them is intolerable;" my conscience would tell me, that I was uttering before God an intolerable lie, and was about to take the sacrament with this abominable lie in my mouth. Then again, I was forcibly struck after the administration, while I was obliged to use these words; "And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee;" that directly after 1 had been receiving the sacrament, I repeated the crime by mocking God with another lie; for that I knew in my conscience, I had no design whatever to devote inyself to the glory of God, but to continue the same loose, wild way of living as before.

Loveg. It is really astonishing, that we can mock God by repeating such solemn words, and even on a sacramental occasion! But had you many who came to the sacrament?

Mer. Very few Sir; very few indeed and when I used to see some of these grave old people come with their Week's Preparation books, I wondered what they could think of me, who had been running after all the vain amusements within my reach throughout all the week; if they bad any reflection, I am sure they must have concluded that I was nothing better than a mere hireling and a wolf.

Loveg. How did you use to feel when you were called to visit the sick?


Mer. Ah Sir! it was but seldom that the people thought it worth their while to send after such a giddy, dissipated youth as I then was. On these oc

casions they naturally concluded, that prayers, merely said from the lips of such a light, frothy chap, could be of little avail in the solemn moments of their dissolution. But whenever I had an office of that sort to perform, no one can tell how I abhorred the task. However, I used to take out my little black servicebook, read a few prayers over as fast as I could, and then off again to my sports. I remember once, I had the misfortune to be called to this office from the eardtable; I accordingly put the deal in my pocket, and went to my hated task; and while I was taking out my book and my handkerchief, all over perfume, to prevent the offensive smell of a sick chamber, (for I had a deal of affected delicacy about me,) I whisked out all the cards, while the nurse had to pick them up again and then I went to my devotions!

Wor. It is a great mercy, that the wickedness and enmity of your heart did not prevent your giving a serious hearing to Mr. Lovegood, when he preached the visitation sermon.

Mer. Sir, in all my levity and wickedness, while I could join with others in skits and jokes against real religion; yet I had a sort of secret respect for those who were truly serious and consistent: I was convinced their characters were preferable to mine. My principal mischief arose from a light, trifling, and frothy spirit, by which I was entirely captivated; till my heart, I trust, was instructed to know somewhat of the grace of God in truth.

Loveg. Well, I bless God, being of a more studious turn of mind I was kept from the same excess of vanity; nor could I bear the company of the more dissolute of the rest of our body: but if more decent, I was not less ignorant of the way of salvation revealed in the Bible, than yourself; and in our neighbourhood there lived another clergyman, known by the name of Mr. Soberman, who was very correct

I am

and chaste in the whole of his deportment: we still keep up a very friendly intercourse with each other; though he always told me I had gone too far. satisfied of this; we should ever speak well of good wherever we find it ; and I should be happy, if in every country, and in every line of life, men of such characters were more universally to be found. It would be horrid indeed, if all the clergy were equally dissolute and profane.

Mer. O Sir! it fell to my lot to be acquainted with a sad example of the worst men of every character. Some of these were professed libertine Deists: and among the clergy themselves I found some Deists in disguise. But what can be expected from the church under present circumstances? You know Sir, at the time of our public ordinations, near the Universities, what scenes are exhibited, when a set of such thoughtless youths take upon them this most sacred office. If the world knew half our tricks, how they would hate us for our hypocrisy, and how should we be treated as imposers on the credulity of


Wor. I confess, all who truly love the church, cannot but lament how ill she is served. But what was it that so impressed your mind, while you heard Mr. Lovegood preach his visitation sermon ?*

Mer. Why Sir, when we heard that Mr. Lovegood was to be the preacher, as we had been informed of his character before, we were all attention; some out of envy, and others out of curiosity, and a few perhaps out of good will. But as I so hated myself, on account of my office, I thought I had no right to blame others, whose lives were more consistent than my own; so I confess, I attended not only without any prejudice, but rather with a strong prepossession upon my mind, that I should hear somewhat, well worthy of my attention; for I was persuaded Mr. Lovegood was a much better man than myself.

* It is the general custom, that some new Rector or Vica lately inducted should preach the Visitation sermons;

Loveg. [To Mr Worthy.] Sir, as we have done tea, if I am to be made the subject of conversation, I shall withdraw and desire Edward to take away his tea equipage, and sit a little while with poor Mrs. Chipman. I wish to put these few sheets into her hands, [he reads the title page] "The Tempestuous Soul calmed by Jesus Christ."

Mr. Lovegood having thus withdrawn, the present dialogue shall be concluded, that the reader's attention may have time to rest before he hears more of Mr. Merryman, and of the gracious influences of the gospel; which wrought so wonderfully on his mind, and which produced such pleasing consequences on his ministry, and on the whole of his life and conversation,




BEFORE Mr. Merryman favours us with a farther narration on the subject of his experience, perhaps it might not be unacceptable to my readers, were they to be advertised, that there were two other ministers in the same neighbourhood, of names nearly similar to that of Slapdash before mentioned, Mr. Slopdash, and Mr. Taplash. The character of Mr. Slapdash has sufficiently appeared from the preceding dialogue. Mr. Slopdash would frequently boast that he was of the same family with Mr. Slapdash; but, by all accounts, the relationship was very distant indeed. It is charitably hoped that Mr. Slopdash was a good man. But while Mr. Slapdash had a mind, warm and animated, the other was vehement and rash, and would insult his hearers with gross personal reflections, which were too frequently administered with great indiscretion; and this he called faithfulness. Mr. Slapdash could also give hard slaps when needed, but in general, they were administered with discretion; and if at any time, through the natural rapidity of his constitution, he failed, yet being possessed of the "meekness and gentleness that was in Christ," his mistakes were soon corrected: if at times he tripped through the rapidity of his mind, he never fell into the mire through the prevailing impurity of his heart.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »