صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

66

not renounced before, those "refuges of lies" would be so fearfully 'swept away" by the justice of an offended God, and the righteous indignation of a long-slighted, and grossly-insulted Saviour.

To complete this catalogue of Popish prayers, there was a long `litany introduced, the first two or three petitions of which were addressed to Christ, and all the rest to the Virgin. If anything could surpass the blasphemous nature of the preceding prayers, this was admirably calculated to put the finishing stroke to the picture. The mother of Jesus was there addressed by several of those titles which can belong to none but himself. She was not only called the "mother of the Creator, mother of divine grace, queen of heaven, of angels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and of all the saints," but also the "mystical rose," the "ark of the covenant," the "morning star," the "comforter of the afflicted," the "health of the infirm," the "help of Christians," the REFUGE OF SINNERS," and the DOOR OF HEAVEN!" The effect which these misapplied appellations produced upon Emily's mind was so painful; there was such a feeling of horror connected with the idea of their shocking falsehood, that she became cold and faint on hearing them for the first time, and immediately stopped her ears. This was an expedient to which she often felt it necessary to have recourse afterwards; and she found that it was very generally adopted by the English girls, in order that they might be able mentally to repeat their own prayers while they thus knelt, as it was the only time allowed them for that purpose.

66

Emily had read much on the subject of Roman Catholic errors, and was still more convinced, from the perusal of her Bible, that the Romish church was one which had widely departed from the truth. But this eonviction was daily strengthened by everything she saw and heard, and she felt it her duty to pray earnestly for the benighted souls around her. She sought among the French boarders for some indications of real piety; for she knew that, although "the glory was departed" from their once pure and scriptural church, it still retained some of those truths which God has appointed as the means of salvation. She, therefore, hoped that among its dead leaves and withered branches, she might yet find some beautiful, though perhaps sickly, blossom of piety; some humble and sincere believer, whose mind, though clouded by error and superstition, might yet be so far enlightened by the Spirit of God, as to feel its need of a Saviour, and to cling with weak, but saving faith, to the gracious promises of the gospel. But, alas! she sought long in vain. Though many of the French pupils had attained the age of eighteen or nineteen, and some of them were considered exceedingly devout, she could not recognize in them any of those features which so distinctly mark the real child of God,-any of those beautiful "fruits of the Spirit," which

invariably adorn the renewed mind of a Christian. A strict attention to forms, and unmeaning ceremonies, was all they considered necessary to their eternal salvation; and their hearts were wholly engrossed by dress, amusement, and worldly vanities.

Disappointed in this part of her search, she turned to her English companions, but her expectations were equally crushed, on observing their characters and conduct. Some of these young ladies were extremely interesting in their appearance; but all were vain, worldly-minded, and thoughtless. They prided themselves on being free from the shackles of Popish superstition; but had they been requested to give one solid or scriptural reason for their difference in religion, it is very doubtful whether they could have returned anything like a satisfactory answer. They had been brought up as Protestants, and taught to despise the Roman Catholics for their superstition and image-worship; but they knew nothing of those doctrines which they thus pretended to reject, nor anything of that scriptural authority on which the Protestant church founds her purer system. They would have scorned the idea of danger, from the influence of Popish society or doctrines; yet they were everywhere surrounded by snares, which it was almost impossible for them completely to escape.

Such was the aspect of the school where Emily and Caroline were to spend at least one year. Their hearts sickened as they contemplated it; but Emily recollected Mr. Morton's words, and prayed that some opportunity might be vouchsafed them of glori fying their Saviour, by being useful to those around them,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.-MARK vii. 9.

THE principles of young persons cannot be supposed to be very firmly fixed at the age of fourteen or sixteen; on the contrary, it is at that period that they most need the aid of judicious instruction, and the kind hand of enlightened piety, to direct their judg ment, and guide them in the paths of wisdom. Yet it is generally

By

;

about that age that English parents send their children to France -send them into the midst of temptation and peril, without a single friend to watch over their conduct. They may not, indeed, be personally addressed on the subject of religion, nor may the least trouble be taken to pervert their minds; but there is a silent, yet certain, influence in the scenes around them, which will almost infallibly sap the foundations of a Protestant education. It is not from the most obvious errors of the Romish church that the greatest danger is to be apprehended, for these are easily detected, and not so likely to impose on a well-informed mind. But it is from the dangerous notions of human merit; of justification by works of the possibility of deserving heaven; of the supposed distinction between venial and mortal sins, and a number of other errors equally pernicious; together with the profanation of the Sabbath, the disregard of the Bible, and the constant trifling with the name of God, which are so awfully common among the Roman Catholics; it is from these that everything should be feared, for a young and thoughtless girl, whose mind is naturally fond of novelty, and as naturally averse to everything spiritual; who seldom takes the trouble to examine for herself, or to try an opinion by the only infallible test of truth; who speedily adopts the sentiments and manners of those with whom she associates, and is easily dazzled by the splendor of outward ceremonies.

Emily was strongly impressed with this conviction, by observing the different incidents which daily fell under her notice. No attempts whatever were made to warp the minds of the Protestant pupils; yet that secret and irresistible influence of example did not fail to manifest itself. She soon had many occasions of combating Roman Catholic notions, in the minds of professed Protestants; and almost every day she heard them make use of Roman Catholic expressions.

The English girls were sitting together one Sunday evening after prayers, when Emily observed a conversation which appeared rather animated. Anna Lushington, a tall, elegant girl of sixteen, who had been particularly attentive to the new boarders on their arrival, was reprimanding her younger sister for having told her a falsehood.

66

Indeed, Maria," said she, "it was very wicked to say so; and do you not know, you little naughty girl, that telling falsehoods is one of the seven deadly sins ?"

Maria tossed her little head, in token of contempt; and Anna appealed to Emily for a confirmation of what she had said.

"It is indeed true," said the latter, "that falsehood is a very great sin; for the Bible says that lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,' and that all liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; but I don't know what you mean, dear Anna, by 'the seven deadly sins,' I think that all sin is

hateful to God, as contrary to his nature, and a transgression of his laws, and therefore deserving of eternal condemnation."

"Dear me! what singular notions you have, my dear Miss Mortimer!" exclaimed Anna, with astonishment. "What! do you then suppose that those little trifling sins which we commit every day, are as bad as robbery, drunkenness or murder, or that they will be punished with the same severity?"

"They are not, indeed, so dreadful in their effects upon society," replied Emily, modestly; "but in the sight of a holy God they are equally criminal, as they proceed from that same 'carnal mind, which is enmity against him.' The Bible tells us that God is 'of purer eyes than to behold sin, and cannot look upon iniquity; and that same God declares that 'the soul that sinneth shall die.' And allow me to tell you, Miss Lushington, that if the Bible speaks of no difference between venial and mortal sins, neither does the Protestant religion admit of any such distinction; and that I am surprised to hear a Roman Catholic error from the mouth of a Protestant."

"But I did not know that it was peculiar to the Catholics," said Anna, playing with the ringlets of her beautiful hair, to conceal the blush which slightly tinged her fine countenance. This conversation had attracted the attention of several other girls, and Fanny Gordon, a young lady who, from her uncommon abilities, was frequently called the phoenix of the school, immediately observed, that "she thought Miss Mortimer had a great dislike to the Catholics, as she was always saying something against their mode of worship."

"It is not so much their ceremonies that I have objected to, my dear Miss Gordon, as their doctrines and principles. Yet I am convinced, from the word of God, that their mode of worship is not less objectionable; and certainly nothing can be more unscriptural than some of those ceremonies. I need only mention the invocation of saints, and the worship of images, to prove the truth of my assertion; but I hope I have no dislike whatever to the Roman Catholics, as individuals."

"There, now see how uncharitable you are in your judgment, when you talk of their praying to the saints! I assure you they only do so to request the benefit of their prayers in heaven; and, as one of the teachers was saying to the French girls the other day, if we do not scruple to ask a friend on earth to pray for us, why should we not, with much more reason, entreat the prayers of our friends in heaven ?"

Emily was surprised to hear this artful sophistry, from the lips of an English girl; but she replied, without hesitation, "if we admit that idea, Miss Gordon, we must believe that deceased saints are gifted with Omniscience, in order to hear and answer the petitions which are presented to thern from so many different

places at once; yet that is an attribute which certainly belongs to God alone. But it is to the Bible we should look for the truth or falsehood of every doctrine; and though that blessed book commands living Christians to 'pray for one another,' it nowhere gives the least countenance to praying to departed saints. On the contrary, it asserts that there is but 'one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus:' and surely, when the Son of God himself condescends to be our intercessor, it is offering the greatest insult to his character, his dignity, and his love, to seek for other mediators, as if he were not sufficient."

The glow of animation had crimsoned the usually pale cheek of Emily as she uttered these words; and Fanny Gordon felt rather confused, and did not know what to answer. At length, however, she resumed the conversation, by observing that, at all events, Miss Mortimer was very severe, when she accused the Catholics of worshipping images. "I asked Mademoiselle Laval yesterday," said she, "if it was true that they worshipped them; and she assured me it was quite a mistake, and that they only knelt before pictures and images, as a mark of reverence to the persons they represented."

"Ah! Miss Gordon," replied Emily, "it is a sad sign of a bad cause, when we are ashamed to own the truth. Wherefore, then, do they kneel to them? What more unequivocal mark of adora tion can we possibly show to an object, than the action of kneeling to it? Do you not remember how awfully the Israelites were punished by God, for their image-worship?"

"Yes; but they worshipped those images, and the Catholics only look upon them as representations."

"Well, granting they only do so (which, however, is very doubtful) I do not think the Israelites did any more: when they made the calf in Horeb, they had but very recently seen a visible manifestation of the glorious presence of God; we cannot suppose that, after such an event, they could be so devoid of common sense as to believe that the golden calf they made was the same great and awful God; it must have been as a representation of him that they worshipped the molten image; and their crime was, therefore, precisely the same as the Roman Catholics are guilty of. Besides, the second commandment expressly forbids all such marks of reverence to images; and the Roman Catholics are so conscious of this, that they have excluded that commandment from the decalogue, and divided another into two, in order to complete the number. Ís not this sufficient to stamp the character of reprobation on a church which takes such unwarrantable liberties?"

"But I tell you, Miss Mortimer," retorted Miss Gordon, coloring with offended pride, "that the Catholics disavow the worship of images or saints; and I think they ought to know their own religion best."

« السابقةمتابعة »