صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The party set out the next morning, on their return to England, and as their voyage approached its termination, it seemed as if the dark clouds of sorrow and anxiety were gradually yielding to the sweet influence of returning cheerfulness and hope. They arrived in safety, and again revisited the scenes and friends of former days. Some sad recollections unavoidably presented themselves, but, after a time, peace and serenity regained their ascendency, and it was finally settled, that Caroline should remain at her uncle's house till she was of age, while Henrietta and Julia should be sent to G, and placed under the care of Mrs. Harley, the excellent and pious governess who had educated Emily and Caroline. Lydia was also to spend a year or two at the same establishment, with a view to the completion of her education, and Emily and Caroline were invited by Mrs. Somerville to pass a few weeks with her. The former gladly availed herself of her father's permission, to accept the invitation; and the latter, after some hesitation, resolved to accompany her.

Great was the sorrow of their kind friends, both at Cliffden parsonage and at G, to find that the subtleties of popery had thus succeeded in bewildering the mind of Caroline, and that her influence had operated on her two younger sisters, to draw them into the same snare. They resolved, however, in humble dependence on divine assistance, to endeavor to undeceive her, without attempting to put any constraint on her inclinations.

Caroline was, at first, extremely reserved, and adhered, with scrupulous exactness, to all the forms of her new religion. Mr. Saville had given her a general letter of recommendation to the priests of his persuasion, in whatever town she might inhabit, and she had, in consequence, placed herself under the guidance of the priest at G- who was one of the strictest and most bigoted of his fraternity. By him she was introduced to the chief members of his congregation, who, knowing the character of the family with whom she was now residing, resolved to use every exertion to preserve her from their influence. Mr. Dudley himself watched over his new charge with no common jealousy, and Caroline seemed almost to live apart from her friends, at the very time that she was residing in the midst of them.

There were a few moments, however, when she was more accessible, and, as she found that her liberty was not interfered with, she became gradually less reserved. The hallowed influence of former associations, too, seemed to be regaining some ascendency over her mind, and her friends began to hope that she would eventually see through the mists of error that had obscured her reason. They thought it best to abstain from argument with her, and gently endeavored to lead her mind to more scriptural views. She gradually suffered herself to be persuaded to join in the prayers of the family, and at length yielded to the entreaties

of Lydia, that she would hear Mr. Somerville preach, in the church she had so long attended. This service seemed to make a powerful impression on her mind; she felt herself, as it were, carried back to those days of hallowed enjoyment when she had hung delighted on the words of the faithful pastor, and "received with meekness. the engrafted word, which was able to save her soul." Again she heard those heavenly instructions, and they sounded in her ears like the sweet strains of long-forgotten music; again she listened to the words of eternal life, from the lips of him who had been the instrument of leading her to God, and some portion of her former feelings rushed back upon her soul. Emily and Lydia saw the tears she shed, and their hearts thrilled within them, in joyful anticipation, and their prayers rose with silent fervor to the God of all Grace, the "Father of lights, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift."

The next morning, Caroline received a visit from a lady to whom the priest had introduced her. The vigilance of Popish zeal had discovered her crime, in attending a Protestant place of worship, and this lady had been deputed to remonstrate with her, on this flagrant breach of propriety. Caroline felt annoyed by the consciousness of being thus closely watched, but assured her friend that she was true to the church, and had not, even in thought, swerved from her allegiance. But, from that day, there was no more peace for her. Every action was watched, canvassed, and commented on, by her Romish friends, and every opportunity seized, of lecturing and directing her, till she became weary of such unwarranted interference. Her repeated assurances of fidelity to the church seemed to have but little weight, and her impatience under this system of petty persecution did not mend the matter.

All this opposition, however, produced an effect very different from that which was intended. It roused the mind of Caroline to inquiry, and disposed her to listen more favorably to the simple truths of the gospel. Again she read her long-neglected Bible, and prayed for divine illumination to understand its blessed truths. Her friends rejoiced over this promising alteration in her sentiments; but, in the meantime, the priest was not idle. He wrote to Mr. Saville, informing him of the danger in which his new convert stood; and, as soon as time would permit, the last-named gentleman made his appearance at G. He obtained an interview with Caroline, who was much startled at seeing him. He told her of the anxiety for her spiritual state, which had induced him to undertake a long and fatiguing journey; and so completely did he re-establish his power over her, that she was prevailed on to shorten her stay at G, and return to her uncle's, where, he thought, she would be less under Protestant influence.

Emily followed her cousin, and the priest also established him

self for a short time in the town, with the intention of keeping strict watch over her; and it was not long before he denounced Caroline and forbade her intimacy with Mr. and Mrs. Morton. remonstrated, and represented the impossibility of her thus giving up every one of her former friends; but father Saville was positive, and, imagining that he could carry the point with a high hand, continued to assail her with such constant importunities, that his conduct came to the knowledge of Mr. Mortimer, who felt it his duty to interfere. He accordingly called on the priest, and politely, but firmly, insisted on his ceasing to persecute his niece. Father Saville, however, treated the injunction with contempt, and resolved to follow up his system with Caroline, till he succeeded in prevailing on her to return to the convent.

He had, however, somewhat overrated the extent of a power which was now on the decline; and the violence of his zeal accelerated its overthrow. He discovered that Caroline had again visited Mrs. Morton, and had even so far transgressed his orders as to have attended the church at Cliffden, and heard Mr. Morton preach. His wrath was kindled by this circumstance, and losing sight of all prudential considerations, in the vehemence of his zeal, he reproached her for her inconsistency and wavering, in terms so bitter, and with so little regard to moderation, or even the common courtesies of life, that her indignation was at length roused to throw off the yoke of spiritual tyranny. Her eyes had been gradually opening to the errors of the system by which her senses had been captivated, and her better judgment for a time bewildered; and his intemperate conduct severed the remaining link that bound her. She asserted her independence of all priestly author ity, and her right to follow the dictates of conscience alone, espe cially in matters of religion.


The priest was disconcerted, and endeavored to retrieve his error, but found, to his great dismay, that he had lost his former influ ence, beyond all hope of regaining it. Caroline appealed to her friends, and they thought it best to remove her from the scene of contention. She and Emily, therefore, once more returned to Gand amidst the religious privileges, and truly Christian society of that place, her mind was gradually strengthened, nour ished, and confirmed in the truth. She was led to pray earnestly for divine direction, and experienced the fulfilment of that blessed promise," I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight; these things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." Often did she look back, with wondering gratitude and adoration, in the way by which she had been led from the perplexing mazes and dangerous errors of a system, which cannot be better described than by the words of our blessed Saviour to the Pharisees, "Ye have

set the word of God at naught by your tradition; but in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

Christian Parents! Protestant Parents! bear with me, while I again repeat the warning I have already endeavored to impress on your minds. You are called Protestants; you glory in being the descendants of those who protested against Popery, even when it was enthroned in the high places of our land. They stepped forward boldly, to assert the cause of truth, endured a long and glorious struggle, for that religious liberty which can only flow from the possession of the pure Word of God, and succeeded in securing that invaluable treasure, though, in too many instances, at the price of their own lives. And can you so lightly regard the blessings they suffered and bled to procure for you? Can you deem that danger trifling, which threatens again to bring your children under "the yoke of bondage?" Shall the acquisition of mere worldly accomplishments be put in competition with the dearest, -the most important interests of your helpless children?

It is a delusion to imagine, that no danger can exist, because the heads of Roman Catholic establishments promise not to interfere with the religious sentiments of their pupils. That promise is not always kept; but, even where it is adhered to, as in the case of Madame d'Elfort, with scrupulous fidelity, there are a thousand perils lurking in everything that surrounds the young persons thus exposed. The splendor of Popish rites and ceremonies, so captivating to the warm imagination of youth,-the specious plausibility of Popish doctrines, which they must constantly hear taught and enforced, in the instructions given to their Roman Catholic companions, the seducing influence of Roman Catholic associations and friendships, and the numberless fascinations of a religion which appeals, with almost irresistible power, to the senses, and through them, contrives to dazzle and bewilder the mind, all these are ranged in formidable array, against the yet unfixed and uncertain principles of an inexperienced girl,-and is it a subject of wonder, that they too often prevail?

But, granting that she does not fall into the snare, so far, at least, as a change of religion is concerned,-still, the evils that must necessarily arise from such an education, are manifold and serious. Their principles are unsettled, the Bible neglected, a thousand unscriptural notions insensibly adopted, the sense of the importance of religion gradually lessened, and its place supplied by a spirit of levity, and indifference to spiritual things. Christian Parents! will you expose your children to such evils! Oh! if you value their immortal souls,-if you know the preciousness of that Bible which testifies of Christ, and leads the sinner to him alone, for pardon, peace, and salvation, if you prize the blessings of a scriptural faith, consecrated and secured by the blood of mar

[ocr errors]

tyrs, if you dread the possibility of your children's being again entangled by that anti-christian system which is designated by the pen of inspiration, "the mystery of iniquity,"-beware, oh! beware, how you trifle with their eternal interests, by abandoning them to its fascinations, and by forgetting the solemn injunction, "COME OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE, THAT YE BE NOT PARTAKERS OF HER SINS, AND THAT YE RECEIVE NOT OF HER PLAGUES."

« السابقةمتابعة »