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They stood as 'twere upon a precipice,
Chased by a demon to its very brink,
HYPOCRISY in any shape is baneful to happiness and virtue: but religious hypocrisy is the very worst species ; the most injurious in its effects, the most deliberate in its operations, and the most dreadful in its influence ; since it teaches the weak minded, when imposed upon by depravity sacrilegiously clothed in the garb of sanctity, to despise religioa itself. Among the number of those who chose this system of deception to promote their worldly welfare, was Dr. Cantwell, a man of low origin, uneducated, and uninformed; who, in assuming an outward show of devotion, had by means of art risen from the most extreme poverty, to affluence and comfort, He was a popular preacher ; and though his doctrines were such as to inspire terror, and drive the blessing of tope from the human breast, declaring that the hourly sins of man were of such magnitude that there was scarcely one in a thousand who would be saved, yet was he followed by the multitude, and had much more crowded congregations than a fellow minister, who, mild and gentle, preached the mercies of redeeming grace, and pointed out a hope that all would be saved. But Dr. Cantwell's horrors were the most attractive, and his fame spread with rapidity. The agent of innumerable charities, he visited prisons, alms houses, and fever hospitals ; and obtained large sums of money in donations, for the disposal of which he was never called to account : but it was supposed, so boundless was his benevolence believed to be, that he drew from bis own limited stores, and expended much more than he received.
He had been for some time past a resident in the house of Sir John Lambert, introduced there by the baronet's mother, an old lady on the verge of seventy; who, having spent a youth in the accustomed frivolous gaieties of persons who live in the world, and with the world, began, as age advanced, to see! her relislı for pleasure decline, and made a merit of withdrawing herself from the vanities of society, when she was no longer capable of enjoying them. Her virtues were of the negative kind : if she gave a penny to a beggar, sent a dinner to a poor invalid, and save her unite to a public subscription, she thought the full extent of her moral and religious duties were performed. When therefore she had left the bustle of society for retirement, as her own reflections did not afford her any very extensive gralification, she sought consolation in the exercises of devotion. But the church of England was too
lukewarm to please her newly-awakened zeal ; and she became a candidate for Methodism. Docior Cantwell's fame reached her ears; she attended his preaching, and listened to his discourses, till she believed herself doomed to eternal perdition, and thut he alone could save her! She sent for him: he obeyed the summons--sighed !--greaned !-wept ! and prayed with her !— drove her to the utmost verge of despair, and then, as adroitly, drew her back, to hope-through the means of charities ! abstinences ! and penances, unsuited to her health and years One of the absurd tasks put upon her was, to walk barefooted ten times up and down the garden, on a cold bleak night, when the ground was covered with
Her constitution not being quite so warm as her religious enthusiasm, she caught a violent cold, and was confined to her bed for several weeks, and when she was scarce able to articulate a word above a whisper, the Doctor told her it was the devil struggling within her, and when once dispossessed, she would recover. By slow degrees she did recover, and imagined herself a better woman for her late sufferings ; which Mr. Mawworm, an ignorant follower and agent of Cantwell's, remarked—“had been a sort of a scouring to her poor soul, just for all the world as his wife Suzy scoured and scrubbed the pewter saltcellar and pepper box, when good Dr. Cantwell was going to dine with them."
After this mental scouring of her soul, she made a total revolution in her manners, and mode of life ; and soon acquired such command over her feelings, and reduced her mind to such a perfectly frigid state of philosophy, that she informed her granddaughter, Charlotte Lainbert, as a matter of great exultation, how far the pious Doctor had weaned her from all temporal connections, -"My heart is now set upon nothing sublunary; and I thank Heaven, Miss, I en so insensible to every thing in this vain world, that I could see you, my son, my daughters, my brothers, my grandchildren, all expire before me, and mind it no more than the going out of so many snuffs of candle !'
Sir John Lambert was not of an age to be so liable to this sort of fanatic imposition: but Dr. Cantwell bad modes of deception suited to every age and rank whatever ; and Sir John very soon became as much a dupe as his infatuated mother. The Doctor was made his domestic chaplain, and gained a most dreadful empire over the mind of his patron. Col. Lambert, an only son, was almost excluded from his father's house, on account of the various sins he committed ; the heaviest of which was his dislike to the pious Doctor. An excellent young man, Mr. Darnley, the admitted suitor of his daughter, was treated with scorn and contempt ; and Sir John, • though he had given his free consent, thought proper now to retract his word, on the pretence of Mr. Darnley's dissolute character. Not all the entreatie: of his son could alter his unjust resolution. He forbade Charlotte to receive her lover's visits in future, and informed her he had another husband in view for her, one better calculated to insure her happiness. Charlotte, who was a madcap, and had som Jittle spice of the coquette about her, enjoyed the idea of tormenting Darnley with the thought of this rival ; for she was aware that he had a strong tincture of jealously in his disposition, and she wishes to punish him. When therefore Darnley called soon after the conversation between her and her father, notwithstanding the peril of their situation, and that there was really much cause of uneasiness, neithe her brother nor her lover could induce her to be so rious; and, after indulging her mirth for some time at the expense of poor Darnley's ernbarrassment she took up a book, and read with provoking ear nestness
Jler lively loukk a sprightly nind disclose;
Thus she rattled on, nor could they in any way fix her attention.
Yet this levity was merely assumed ; Charlotte was not less uneasy than themselves--not on her. own account, or her lover's ; for, as she had twenty thousand pounds at her own disposal, left her by an aúnt, free from all control, her father's consent was not necessary to her choice, though it would add to her happiness. But she was seriously alarmcd for her brother, whose fortune was solely dependant on her father, and the dangerous ascendency this saintlike hypocrite had obtained over his nrind, made her tremble.
If Colonel Lambert and Charlotte could have controlled their resentment towards this man, ni; advances would have been less rapid ; but he ty came powerful by opposition, their determined