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To him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.-PSALM 1. 23.
EMILY was quietly seated in her room, her attention deeply absorbed by an Italian book, which her master had recommended for her perusal, when a light but hurried tap at her door, made her start, and she was surprised by the entrance of Rose. Her face was pale, and her eyes red with weeping. She sat down by her friend, and for some time neither of them spoke. At length Rose gasped out, My dear, dear Emily, I am come to bid you farewell! My father has sent for me, and he vows I shall not return to school. I shall be fetched in an hour, and I wish to spend this last hour with you. Perhaps we may never meet again!"
She threw her arms round Emily's neck, and wept in silent, but deep and heartfelt anguish. Emily could not repress her own emotion, and her tears mingled plentifully with those of her friend.
At length Rose raised herself from her disconsolate attitude, and exclaimed, with unwonted energy,
"I can bear this constraint no longer. Perhaps I am wrong, in speaking to you on a subject which has long weighed heavily on my heart; I know I am transgressing the orders of those I ought to obey; but I feel, at this moment, that I cannot be silent any longer. The distressing necessity of parting from you,perhaps for ever, obliges me now to speak openly. Allow me then, my dear friend, to ask you a most important question. Have you any intention of becoming a Catholic?"
"I, my dearest Rose! Certainly not! But you surprise me,what could possibly lead you to think I had any such intention?"
"I scarcely know," answered Rose, while her countenance assumed an expression of disappointment and dejection, “but as you have often visited our churches, hospitals, and convents, I thought..... I hoped," she added with a faltering voice," that some of the religieuses might have been the means of converting you."
"My doing so has been chiefly owing to curiosity, and the interest naturally inspired by institutions so widely different from all I have before been accustomed to; but I assure you that, far from being a convert to your religion, everything I have seen and heard has only tended to confirm my sentiments."
A slight shade of vexation,-almost of impatience,-crossed the pale, pensive brow of Rose, as she exclaimed,
"How dreadful! how distressing! Yet, if you would but examine the subject with attention, you might change your opinion. But I forget, perhaps you are not free to do so; perhaps your parents might be seriously displeased, were you to change your religion. Are you quite sure they would not ?"
"I cannot answer that question, dear Rose; but why should I seek for information on a subject about which I have not the slightest doubt ?"
"Yet if you would but inquire! Is it not possible that you may be in error? Oh! believe me, you are!"
Hush, my dearest Rose! I fear we may be overheard. Is not Mademoiselle de Blangy in the next room?"
"I believe she is, but that is of no consequence to me. I am about to be separated from you, and I must tell you all I think and feel, whatever may result from the avowal. You do not,-you cannot know the anguish I suffer on your account, when I see you persisting in error on so momentous a subject. I assure you that thought is a dagger to my heart. Oh! do let me persuade you ?” she exclaimed, with the most affectionate earnestness.
"And can you suppose, my dearest Rose, that I feel less anxiety on your account, than you do on mine? Believe me, your spiritual state is equally distressing to me."
"Oh! no, no! that cannot be; for, though you differ from us in so many material points, you have more than once acknowledged to me, that you believe it is possible to be saved in the Catholic communion. You cannot, therefore, feel for me as I do for you; for my religion teaches me that there is no salvation in any other, and," she added, with painful emotion, "that if you remain in your errors, you must inevitably perish."
"Well, my dear Rose, shall we examine the subject together and endeavor to ascertain, by the word of God, which of us is in the right way? Will you consent to become my instructress, if I am in error?"
"Oh! no, I dare not attempt it! I am not equal to such an undertaking: I am too young, too ignorant."
"Yet let me assure you, Rose, it is not learning that is requisite. Though I have no doubt on the subject, my mind is quite open to conviction. If you can but prove your sentiments from the Bible, I require no other test of truth. Only do that, and I shall embrace the Roman Catholic faith immediately."
"Would you indeed ?" inquired Rose, with animation. "Oh! how easy it would be to satisfy you! But no.....I am not sufficiently acquainted with the subject. Yet I will propose another method, which, if you love me, and are really unpreju diced, you cannot refuse. Will you consent to converse with another person on the subject?-with a priest, for instance?"
Emily hesitated for a moment: there seemed something like
temerity, in the idea of her encountering the learning, the subtlety, and eloquence of a priest; and she felt tempted to decline the contest. But she remembered the apostolic injunction, “Be ready always to give an answer to every one that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." She recollected also, that God had not unfrequently "chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise," and resolved, for the sake of Rose, to trust in the promised assistance of God, and the truth and goodness of her cause. She therefore replied,
"I will, my dear Rose ;-bring me your confessor, or any one else you please. With the help of God and my Bible, I neither dread the trial, nor have any doubt of the result."
"Thank you, thank you, dear Emily; I shall beg of Monsieur de Beauvais, our venerable confessor, to do me the favor of undertaking your instruction."
'But do not misunderstand me, Rose, do not mistake my words. Let not Monsieur de Beauvais imagine that it is my own request, or that I have any doubt on the subject. I again repeat it, I am perfectly convinced of the superiority of Protestantism; I have no more doubt of it, than I have that the sun is now enlightening the sky. It is for your sake alone that I submit to the trial, and, therefore, the request to Monsieur de Beauvais must come entirely from yourself."
"I understand you, dear Emily, and shall take care to represent it in the proper light."
"But allow me, my friend, to make one observation on something you have said. I do indeed believe it possible for a Roman Catholic to be saved; for your church still retains some of the great truths essential to salvation, though she has fearfully disfig. ured and added to them; and I trust there are many sincere Christians in her communion, who, in the midst of much dark. ness and error, exercise a saving reliance on those blessed truths. But this does not alter my opinion of the system. I certainly believe you to be in error, and under great delusion, which renders your salvation much more difficult, and your situation often a dangerous one. I, therefore, only consent to the discussion you propose, on condition that you shall be present at it, unless forbid den by your friends.”
"Well, I agree to that condition, and shall be but too happy it we succeed. Oh! what joy for me, if I could but see you a Catholic !"
"I do not think, dear Rose, you will ever have that pleasure. However, I am willing to abide the test of my principles. Let Monsieur de Beauvais come with temperate argument, and with the Bible in his hand; I shall hear him with candor; and I again repeat, I do not fear the result. But, remember, I will pay no deference to the authority of councils, or the traditions of men ;
I acknowledge no other standard of religion than the Word of God, and that alone shall decide the contest.'
It was now time for Rose to depart; but the separation of the friends was rendered much less painful, by the arrangement which had just been made. The eyes of Rose sparkled with delight at the thought of Emily's conversion; which, to her sanguine imagination, appeared little less than certain; and Emily, though she knew that conversion is the work of God alone, could not help indulging a hope, that the discussion question might, through the blessing of Him "without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy," be the means of leading her friend to inquire into the truth of those dogmas, by which she had hitherto been kept in bondage.
A confirmation was soon to take place in the small Protestant chapel of S, Bishop Luscombe having been appointed to visit, for that purpose, the different English communities scattered over the continent. Several of Madame d'Elfort's English pupils were desirous of attending the rite, and wrote to their parents for permission to do so. This was, in most cases, granted; but their governess positively refused her sanction. The young ladies, therefore, submitted, though not without murmuring;-all except one, whose spirit rose indignantly against this arbitrary exercise of power. She remonstrated loudly; and, as there was nothing to be hoped from Miss Bradford's apathy on religious subjects, she entreated Emily's good offices with Madame d'Elfort, as she was generally supposed to have considerable influence over that lady's mind. Emily promised to try what she could do; but she found her governess inflexible, and proof against every argument she could use.
"My dear child," she said, "I am truly grieved to be compelied to refuse you anything; but I cannot consent to your request allow my Protestant pupils the free exercise of their religion; I never interfere with their principles; but I will not promote them. My religion teaches me that your system is one of fearful and most dangerous error; and my conscience will not allow me to sanction or countenance any of its ordinances."
"But, Madame," remonstrated Emily, "would you not think it very unjust and arbitrary, if a Protestant governess were to prevent a Roman Catholic child from partaking in the ordinances of her church ?"
"That is a case, my young friend, which I can scarcely think possible," replied Madame d'Elfort, with a slight curl of her lip. "No true Catholic would ever entrust his child to those whom he considers to be in error, especially at that age, when she ought to be admitted to the most sacred rites of the church. Besides, I have conversed with some members of your communion on the subject, and they spoke of confirmation as of a form, which might
be postponed, or even omitted altogether, without any serious de. reliction of their principles."
Emily could only blush for these professed members of the church of England, and reply, that confirmation was strongly insisted upon by that church, not only as a duty, but a privilege, and a most important means of grace.
Madame d'Elfort looked perplexed. "I know not," said she, "how to understand all these diversities of opinion in your church. There ought to be no such latitude of interpretation. Our duties are clearly and explicitly stated to us; and we can neither slight nor neglect any of the appointed ordinances of our church, without incurring the fearful peril of mortal sin. Every duty, with us, is imperative; every religious observance indispensable. But, with you, it seems to me as if every one had a rule of his own."
"My dear Madame," inquired Emily, "are there no persons in your church, as well as in ours, who neglect the means of grace, and whose works deny their Christian profession?"
"I acknowledge there are, indeed, but too many; but they are persons devoid of all religion; whereas, those I speak of, in your communion, are professedly pious and devout, and are considered so by others. Excuse me, my young friend, but these inconsist encies have often struck me, as being strong arguments against the Protestant system."
Emily only answered by a deep sigh, and then, after a pause, inquired if this was Madame d'Elfort's final answer to Miss Ashton's petition?
"It is, my love; and I have another reason for it, besides those I have told you already. Miss Bradford does not think the confirmation of any importance to the young ladies at present; I cannot, therefore, require her to begin a course of instruction for that object; and, without a great deal of private, as well as public, preparation, I should not feel justified in allowing any pupils of mine to attend an ordinance of so much religious importance. Tell them, therefore, that they must wait till their return to Eng. land, before they ratify their baptismal vows, by the office of confirmation."
Madame d'Elfort now kissed Emily, and they separated. Isabella Ashton was indignant at her refusal, and so was Mr. Berrington, the English minister at S. He even resolved to inform the Bishop of it, and it is probable that he executed his intention. But he mistook the character of Madame d'Elfort, when he attributed her conduct solely to bigotry. There was far more true conscientiousness in it, than was displayed by those, whose inconsistency thus brought a scandal on the truth of the Protest
Emily was delighted, a few days after this, to see her friend Rose return to the school, and still more so, when she perceived that