صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

throne of grace. She was alarmed and discouraged by these difficulties, and communicated her fears and trials to Emily.

The latter was too well acquainted with the proneness of her own heart to depart from God, and had too often been tried by the same painful indisposition of mind, not to understand, and sincerely pity, the case of her young friend. She pointed out the only remedy for the diseases of the soul; the blood of Jesus Christ. She encouraged her to a renewed application, and a cleaving of heart to that gracious Saviour, assuring her, from her own experience, as well as from the declarations of Scripture, that his grace was all-sufficient in restoring the soul, and presérving it from the power of indwelling corruption.

Louisa followed her friend's counsel, and returned to the Rock of her salvation; she experienced the blessedness of waiting upon God, and rejoiced in the assurance of his unchanging faithfulness. But her situation and employments allowed her little time for reading or retirement; she looked too much to herself, and too little to her Saviour; she allowed her vigilance to relax, and the world to gain ground; she grieved her Almighty Friend, and he withdrew the light of his countenance. Deprived of all spiritual comfort, she had recourse again and again to his forgiving mercy; but, though she found that merey a never-failing refuge, she was frequently allowed to feel the consequences of her unwatchfulness, by being left to walk some time in despondency and dark


The summer was now entirely past, and autumn had begun to strip the trees of their verdant foliage. The monotony of school occupations was seldom relieved by any pleasurable occurrence; but Emily's anxious observations on her companions furnished an ample field for the exercise of every varied feeling. She watched, with affectionate solicitude, the conduct of each, and the most trivial occurrences were often fraught with the deepest interest to her, as they displayed those different workings of the mind, which are frequently more expressive than either words or actions



Who's among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his ser van that wakketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.-ISAIAH L. 10.

It was a dark and stormy afternoon; the wind howled through the half-leafless trees of the garden, and the rain occasionally pelted against the windows; all nature seemed to wear the livery of sadness, as if dreading the approach of winter's iron reign; when Emily observed a group of young ladies, assembled with an air of solicitude round some object at the upper end of the schoolroom. She approached the spot to inquire the cause of their apparent anxiety, and beheld Rose de Liancourt, in an attitude peculiarly expressive of suffering. Her head was reclining on Louisa's shoulder; her left hand was strongly pressed against her side, and the other concealed her eyes; she was perfectly silent, but the ashy paleness of her cheek, and the convulsive motion that occasionally agitated her features, gave the most painful indications of suppressed agony. Emily stood, for a moment, mo tionless with alarm, then, approaching her friend, she tenderly inquired if the pain was in her side, and if something could not be done to relieve it. Rose half raised her eyes, and faintly articulated, "Oh! lead me to my room, and let no one but you accompany me!" Madame d'Elfort that moment entered the apartment, and by her directions, Mademoiselle Laval, who had been kindly bending over the suffering girl, supported her to her room, with Emily's assistance. The pain in her side gradually yielded to the influence of proper remedies, and at length was so far diminished as to admit of her lying down with composure. Emily brought her work from the school-room, and sat by her bed-side for the rest of the evening. Rose was now sufficiently recovered to enter into conversation; and, alluding to the moment when she was brought from the school-room, she owned that the anguish which had then overpowered her, did not so much arise from the pain she endured, as from the fear of immediate dissolution.

"I have always thought that I should die very suddenly," observed she, "and the impression was then so strong on my mind, that I almost wonder I did not expire with terror."

66 Are you much afraid of death?" inquired Emily, in a voice of anxious interest.

"Oh! yes, yes! but why do you ask that question? Is not death a most appalling thing? and does not nature shrink with horror from the very thought of its approach ?"

[ocr errors]

"It is, indeed, dear Rose, an event of the most solemn importance;-but what is it which makes you regard it with so much dread? Do you consider it in the light of a painful separation from those you love, or do its attendant circumstances appear so chilling and dreadful ?"

"Neither, my dear Miss Mortimer. I know that the heart must bleed, when the ties of nature are riven asunder; but it is the consequences of death, which appal me, when I reflect upon them."

"It is certainly an awful and decisive moment !" said Emily, with a deep, involuntary sigh. A short silence succeeded. At length Emily resumed," But why should the consequences of death seem dreadful to the Christian ?"

"Why!" repeated Rose with astonishment. "Oh! can you ask me why? Is there not a fearful doom awaiting the unprepared soul, at that tribunal before which we must inevitably appear?" Her countenance became paler, as she uttered these words, and a slight shuddering seemed to agitate her frame.

"Blessed be God!" exclaimed Emily, clasping her hands in grateful emotion, "that there is also an Almighty, all-sufficient, and all-merciful Saviour, to shield us from that justly merited doom, and receive us into that everlasting rest, which His blood and righteousness have purchased for guilty sinners!"

The bright glow of Christian hope and confidence illumined the usually pale countenance of Emily, as her mind dwelt on that glorious state of felicity, which awaits the redeemed in the presence of their Saviour; but no answering expression of delight or comfort appeared in the looks of Rose. Her religion taught her that the soul must be purified, after death, from the sins and imperfections it retained; and that this was to be effected by a process of purgatorial suffering. Her conscience was so far enlightened, as to see something of the hateful nature of sin, and to feel that her sins were such, as to require not only an infinite atonement, but the utmost cleansing of the heart. She had but a very partial and clouded view of the gospel plan of salvation, of that "blood which cleanseth from all sin," and that grace which sanctifies the most polluted heart-it is not, therefore, surprising, that her awakened soul should shudder at the thought of appearing, before that holy God, who, she knew," was of purer eyes than to behold iniquity."

Emily looked with pity on her dejected countenance, and attempted to lead her mind to brighter views. "My dear Rose, if we seek the Lord, He will not desert us in the hour of trial; and if we are his by adoption, we shall not be cast off at the end of our journey. There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus,' and the Saviour himself has said, ' He that believeth in me hath everlasting life.""


[ocr errors]

"True, Miss Mortimer; but who can tell me if I belong to that blessed number? That awfully important question can only be answered at my death;-and oh! the uncertainty of that point! This it is which torments me, which makes me shrink from dissolution, and which, I feel, will make me miserable, to the last moment of my existence! Oh! how shall I enter the dark valley of death? How shall I plunge into a fearful eternity, with such a lol of guilt on my soul, and with this distracting uncertainty resting on my future fate?"

Her feelings seemed wrought up almost to agony, and those of Emily were scarcely less agitated. There was something so appalling in the picture she had drawn, that the soul shuddered at the view. Emily could scarcely conceive anything more awful, than uncertainty in a dying hour. She, however, attempted to shake off the painful impression, and sought for some way of comforting her friend, without entering into a discussion of those sentiments which she was bound not to interfere with.

"Do you then think, Rose, that the momentous question you have mentioned can only be resolved after death? Is there no possibility of ascertaining our personal interest in the salvation of Christ, on this side the grave ?"

Rose half-raised her eyes, with a mournful expression. "Perhaps," said she, hesitatingly, "some eminent saints might be so far favored; but then they must be perfectly free from all sin, before they can have that assurance; and oh! I feel that that will never be my case in this world!"

Emily's indignation burst forth, at this development of Popish doctrine. "Thank God!" exclaimed she, "that such religion is not mine! And oh! would to God, my dearest Rose!"...... she stopped, terrified at the indiscretion of her words, and instinctively looked round the apartment. Recovering from her confusion, she perceived that Rose looked hurt and offended. Anxious to repair, if possible, the mischief her hasty expressions had caused, she said, "Excuse me, my dear friend; I did not intend to wound you, or make any improper reflections; but my feelings often hurry me beyond the limits of prudence."

Rose was satisfied with the apology; but, as the gloom of despondency still sat on her countenance, Emily could not forbear making one more observation.

"Allow me, my love, to say, that the Protestant religion, which deduces its doctrines simply from the pure word of God, presents to the view of the Christian an infinitely brighter prospect. It tells us, from the Bible, that the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs ; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.' St. Paul says, We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

in the heavens.' This, dear Rose, is not the language of doubt or uncertainty, but of triumphant assurance; and many, many are the delightful instances that have been witnessed, of Christians leaving the world, not only with a firm and well-grounded confidence, but the most blissful anticipations of a glorious immortality."

Rose shook her head, with an expression of mournful incredulity; then, feeling that they had both been trespassing on a subject, she requested that it might be dropped; and they both sank into thoughtful and constrained silence.

Most deeply did Emily feel for this sweet girl, who was thus kept in bondage and terror, by the gloomy dogmas of an antichristian church. How ardently did she wish that she could open her Bible, and show her the unscriptural nature of those comfortless doctrines; but such a step was impossible, and with a sigh she changed the conversation. Friendship was the next subject introduced, and Rose spoke of a departed sister, whose virtues, sisterly affection, and piety, she dwelt upon with all the warmth of tender and mournful recollection. Emily had heard from others the most admirable character of this young lady, who had died about two years before: her piety, in particular, was the subject of the highest encomiums, and she was often proposed as a model to the young persons who had witnessed her short, but bright and exemplary career. She, therefore, listened with peculiar pleasure to the affectionate tribute of a sister's fond regrets;. but there was, in the countenance of Rose, an expression of something more than even the most impassioned sorrow, whenever she spoke of this beloved sister. Her cheek assumed an ashy paleness; her lips quivered with suppressed emotion; and the almost convulsive agitation of her features, painfully indicated intense mental suffering.

She had been dwelling on the excellences of Maria's character, and her tears flowed in such unrestrained abundance, that Emily had in vain attempted every method of administering consolation. "My dearest Rose," said she, affectionately, "let me entreat you to remember, that excessive sorrow is sinful. If the friends we lament were pious, as I am persuaded your sister was ;-if they belonged to the family of God, we ought not to 'sorrow as those without hope;' for the objects of our affection are safe and happy'; and if we follow the same blessed course, we shall soon be reunited to them in the regions of eternal bliss."

"Oh! but," exclaimed Rose, in a half-stifled voice, "if those beloved friends should have died with any unconfessed sin on their conscience!-if they should not have been sufficiently holy to enter heaven!-if they should still be in purgatory!" The idea seemed almost too agonizing for her mind to endure:she clasped her hands tightly on her bosom, as if to repress the violent palpitations of her heart. "Oh! my poor Maria! how

« السابقةمتابعة »