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"My dear Miss Gordon," replied Emily, mildly but firmly, "I am extremely sorry to see you thus allow yourself to be deceived by this sophistry: but, whatever may be the real intention of the custom we have just been speaking of, it is a circumstance worthy of our most serious consideration, that the second commandment not only forbids the avowed worship of images, but explicitly adds also,-Thou shalt not bow down to them!''
Several of the young ladies seemed struck with this observation; but Miss Gordon was so much displeased at having been thus opposed, that she haughtily left the room, muttering very angrily some remarks about bigotry and uncharitableness.
It was not that this young lady had any particular predilection for the religion she thus warmly advocated; but she valued herself on that false liberality of sentiment which considers all religions as in themselves alike; and, having once taken up the cause, her pride would not suffer her to drop it, nor could her haughty spirit brook the idea of being contradicted and put to silence. Emily regretted the altercation; but she could not think of disguising her sentiments.
Another point on which she felt the necessity of being candid with her companions, was the manner of spending the Sabbath. The Roman Catholics considered that part of the day which they devoted to public worship, as the only time that ought to be observed or kept sacred. The services of the church were no sooner over, than they thought themselves at liberty to spend the rest of the day as they pleased; walking out, playing, singing, and dancing, were their usual resources, in the evening, unless they had long lessons for the next day, and then they would learn them instead of amusing themselves. Emily was shocked at this awful profanation of the sacred day by the Roman Catholics, but still more so, when she saw the Protestants, in a great measure, follow their example. They did not, indeed, go quite to the same lengths as the former; but when they had been to church in the morning, and read prayers together in the afternoon, they did not scruple to imitate their companions in buying fruit, cream, or pastry, and spending the evening in play, in looking on the sports of the others, or studying their usual lessons for the week.
They were struck with astonishment when they heard Emily blame their conduct, and remonstrate with them on the impropriety and sinfulness of these customs. Their prejudices were immediately up in arms against this troublesome censor; they loudly declared that they never had seen such a strangely scrupulous and gloomy creature, and that they would not suffer themselves to be ruled by so new and disagreeable an intruder. It was in vain that she disclaimed the least intention to rule or dictate; in vain that she reasoned with them, or intreated their attention to the sacredness of the Sabbath institution. They were highly
offended at her endeavors, and turned a deaf ear to all her arguments. She did not, however, give way to discouragement, or allow herself to be deterred from doing what she felt to be right. She earnestly prayed for a blessing on her endeavors, and renewed the subject whenever she found a favorable opportunity. She spoke seriously on the sanctity of the day, and the necessity and privilege of keeping it holy to the Lord; she used every means to persuade her companions, and intreated them, at least, to refrain from those glaring breaches of the fourth commandment, which are so highly offensive to God, and so dishonoring to the pure and scriptural religion they professed. In thus faithfully performing a painful, but positive duty, she frequently met with much opposition from those she wished to benefit; but the God on whose strength she relied did not leave her altogether without encouragement and success. Some of the young ladies at length yielded to the force of her arguments, and others to her pressing entreaties; the rest were ashamed to purchase on the Sunday, when their companions abstained from doing it; and, with a few occasional exceptions, she had, after some time, the unspeakable satisfaction of seeing them gradually abandon this wicked custom. She was inexpressibly grateful to Him who had thus deigned to make her an humble instrument of restraining one breach of his commandments; and, though the motives which actuated the young ladies in this instance were far from being so conscientious as she could have wished, she felt, notwithstanding, that she had much reason to "thank God and take courage."
It was not, indeed, an easy thing for a young girl, uninfluenced by religious principles, to resist the temptation of buying fruit and cream on the Sabbath. After a long, hot, and dusty walk, when they returned to the house, fatigued, exhausted, and perhaps tormented with thirst, these tempting refreshments were immediately presented to their view; and it required no small degree of firmness and resolution, to see the others indulging their taste for these dainties, and yet withstand the delicious allurement. Those who refused to buy were immediately teazed by the others offering them part of their own purchase, and pressing them with the greatest earnestness to accept it. Emily and Caroline, of course, never were prevailed upon to do so; but the others often found it impossible to escape the snare. The French girls were not sparing of their ridicule, on these occasions, when they found that their arguments had no effect on Miss Mortimer; but she felt grateful that she was so far honored as to suffer this slight persecution for the cause of truth, and continued to bear a silent, but impressive, testimony against these sinful customs; a testimony which was not entirely without effect on the minds of her English companions.
The strange opinions of the new comers excited considerable
attention in the house; and as a boarding-school may be called a miniature of the world, they were discussed and commented on in various ways, according to the different characters who took them up. Some pitied the "young enthusiasts," as they called them, for their gloomy notions; others blamed and railed at them, as dangerous fanatics. By far the greater number took every opportunity of turning their principles into ridicule; and some were sufficiently malicious to devise many artful plans, for overcoming their resolution, and frustrating their wishes. The conductors of the establishment were not uninterested in these occurrences. Madame d'Elfort and the teachers attempted to argue with Emily; but, unable to confute her reasons, or alter her determination, they at last dropped the subject, and, by Madame d'Elfort's orders, the English were allowed to act as they pleased. 'Surely," said that lady to Emily, as they were one day conversing on this topic, "when we have sanctified the Sunday by attending to all the observances required by religion, it cannot be sinful to amuse ourselves, or purchase those things which are so necessary for our refreshment."
"But, madam," replied her pupil, "we can easily do without those things, or we can procure them the day before. Whether we buy provisions or refreshments, an apple, or an article of dress, it is always the same action of buying; it is always encouraging those who sell in transgressing the commandments of God. Be sides, if the practice would be wrong (as you allow it would) during the hours of public worship, it must be equally sinful afterwards; for we are commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not any particular part of it."
"You must certainly be too scrupulous, even for your religion," observed Madame d'Elfort, "for I have known several English persons, who were considered very pious, and who yet had no hesitation in buying any sort of refreshment on the Sunday. It was but a few days ago, that I mentioned your way of thinking to Miss Stanhope's mother, who, I believe, is a very religious woman; and she told me, that she had no objection whatever to purchasing as we do."
"Are these people Protestants ?" thought Emily, as the crimson of indignation mounted to her cheek. She felt that it might be thought unbecoming in a girl of her age, to censure those whose years and experience were so much superior to her own; yet she could not bear to leave this impression on the mind of a Roman Catholic, and thought she ought not to shrink from the vindication of truth, even at the risk of being called presumptuous. She, therefore, replied modestly, but with animation.
"Pardon me, my dear madam, if I seem bold in speaking so plainly. Far be it from me to judge the characters of my fellowcreatures but you must allow me to say, that those are certainly
not pious who so flagrantly transgress the injunctions of the Bible, and so shamefully disregard the precepts of their religion. They may indeed be regular in the performance of some of its duties, and attentive to some of its outward forms; but the voice of unerring truth condemns their conduct, and rejects their claim to the character of Christians. The Lord Jesus Christ has declared, 'not every one that saith unto me Lord! Lord! shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
Emily was much agitated as she pronounced these words; and Madame d'Elfort looked surprised, though not displeased. She was silent for a few moments: then, kissing the cheek of her pupil, she kindly said, " Well, my dear child, I admire and respect your sentiments, though I should not like to adopt them. However, since it gives you pain to see the English buy anything on a Sunday, I shall not encourage them to do it, but leave them to make their own decision."
"Deplorable infatuation!" exclaimed Emily to herself, as she pensively bent her way towards her own room. "Whatever the church commands must be observed and obeyed, though it should be expressly contrary to the commands of God himself; and they openly disobey those commandments, because the church sanctions their doing so! However, they cannot judge of his will, since they are not allowed to read the Bible; but how shall those answer for their conduct, who bear the name of Protestants, and have free access to the word of truth, yet thus wilfully disgrace their profession, and knowingly trample on the gospel?"
This was not a solitary instance of the dishonor brought upon religion, by the conduct of the English residents in S and its vicinity. Emily frequently heard the most painful accounts of them. It is a melancholy fact, that a great number of those who take up their abode in France abandon their religion with their country, and adopt all that is pernicious in French customs and manners. Every kind of folly and extravagance is but too common among them; and even those who maintain a character of probity, and decent regularity, generally fall into the sentiments and habits of those they live with. The most awful profanations of the Sabbath are constantly practised by these soi-disant Protestants; and the words of Christ are indeed strik'ngly applicable to them" Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
NEW SCENES AND DANGERS.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.—MATT. xxvi. 41.
EMILY was particularly shocked one evening, by a conversation which took place in her presence, between Miss Gordon and Miss Stanhope, an English weekly boarder, on the latter's return from a visit to her family.
"And do you know, Fanny," said Catharine Stanhope, after having given her an account of several gay parties she had heard of, "that there was a ball last Sunday at the Mayor's house in the country? The Misses Lloyd were there, and they told mamma it was very brilliant, and that they kept it up till four in the morning."
"The Misses Lloyd!" exclaimed Caroline Howard, with surprise; "is it possible that English Protestants can go to Sunday balls?"
Why, yes, to be sure," replied Catharine, "but they did not dance, you know, so long as the Sunday lasted, but merely sat and looked on till the clock struck midnight, and then they got up, and danced till the ball broke up."
"For my part," observed Anna Lushington, * I think they might as well have danced all the time, as looked on; for their heart was as much in it, as that of the persons who were dancing."
They forgot, no doubt," said Emily," what the Bible declares, that God is not mocked;' or rather, perhaps, they never read the Bible at all."
"La!" exclaimed Catharine, "there was nothing very strange in their going to the ball; but you have such odd notions, Miss Mortimer and Miss Howard! Why, there was a grand masquerade the other Sunday, at Mr. Sackville's; and there is to be a ball at Mrs. Dixon's next Sunday evening."
"But all this does not lessen the sin, my dear Miss Stanhope. The curse of Sabbath-breaking is fearfully hanging over those who do such things; and it is a very awful truth, that while the servant who knew not his Lord's will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes,-he who knew and transgressed that will, shall be beaten with many stripes."
The young ladies looked at each other, and Catharine and Fanny exchanged a smile of contempt. The conversation ended here; but Emily long reflected, with much painful feeling, on the conduct by which the Protestant religion was thus deeply wounded, by the hands of its pretended friends.
There was a spiritual gloom resting on every object around her,