Page images
PDF
EPUB

discharges a duty he owes to the public! How awful the hideer! [Her ladyship here becomes strongly excited, and in the confusion and distraction of her mind, forgets the proper names of things, and in a very hurried tone exclaims, with peculiar fluency and energy] “My hangwich is unsupportable. I am distracted by these insinivations of my daughter. I feel myself going-going into dreadful hydrostatics." -The lady shrieks-she faints-falls upon the sofa—and the result is medical attendance, and a family controversy, which makes it appear but too painfully evident, that remonstrating against the servants of the living God, is in some cases a very dangerous experiment.

I wish all to understand, that where no apology, and no expression of regret is uttered to injured ministers, by parties who have, without even the shew of any thing like reason, opposed them, Almighty God will take the matter into his own hand, and make them suffer his displeasure in ways from which they will find escape utterly impossible.

CHAPTER XII.

MANUSCRIPTS-POLITICS-EVIL SPIRITS

DISAPPOINTMENTS.

I HAVE just discarded from my manuscript twenty four closely written pages of facts, reasonings and illustrations, to please my best earthly friend. It was thought that they would be misunderstood or misinterpreted to my disadvantage, and provoke rather than convince. And here I may as well say -indulging my propensity to digression-how wise it is sometimes to take advice in the revision of a manuscript, and how wise also, sometimes, to reject it. I am not quite satisfied with myself, that under the influence of fear of giving offence, I have destroyed, not only the pages above mentioned, but a mass of others, which, for ought I can tell, would have been as well received as those little books of mine already published and republished, with public approbation. We may certainly revise too much. We

may cut and trim, and erase, and expunge with motives as pure as an angel's, and in doing this, destroy the life and spirit of a book, instead of improving it. For let it ever be remembered, that in seeking to accommodate various readers a writer often misses his mark. And while the principle of accommodation may be deemed kind and honourable, the practice is but too often pernicious, for after all, we cannot please every body. Self respect, and self reliance, therefore, while free from obstinacy and rashness, are important and valuable.

Again, I want all men to be convinced that in all my speculations about eccentricity and animadversions on its opponents, I meddle with no man's office or authority. I respect both. I can see, recognize, and admire every thing good and praiseworthy in all “powers,” in governments, whether civil or ecclesiastical. I revere good men in authority, and wish them to take care of me; and I would rather with fair treatment obey than rule. I may have said this before, but I say it now, and may possibly say it again, that my readers may not forget. My ignorance on many points of national politics and church polity, is positively delightful, it keeps me out of lots of scrapes and difficulties, in which many great legislators and ecclesiastical rulers and their partizans are but too often involved. And while I much admire the cleverness, and learning, and eloquence with which distinguished characters attack or defend their different systems, and know well enough that we cannot do well in stormy times without brave controversialists; yet I am often amused with the high excitement of authors and public speakers, in battling about what they call their “great principles." It is, perhaps, very right that they should do so—they know best about it. And it is, perhaps, not right that I or any other man should be indifferent to the state

a

of public affairs. We should all have some fixed principles; and, of course, great (!) principles of conduct and action, but for my own part, I don't like to make too much fuss about my opinions. I suppose if I were examined by competent politicians and ecclesiastics, I should be found to be what some would call a moderate conservative, both in state and church affairs. Yet I never meddle with people who seek to carry out extreme opinions on one side or the other, except they invade my privacy, and won't let me alone, to lead a quiet life. But with regard to the spirit of censoriousness attacking my eccentricity, I do meddle with it, in whomsoever I find it. “Censoriousness and Christian piety," says Thomas a Kempis, can never dwell together.”

It is a merciless and mischievous spirit, and must be roughly handled. When it takes possession of a Christian, the spirit of piety goes out of him, and will not return till censoriousness departs. Snipe-nosed Pharisees encourage this spirit, and must therefore be rebuked. A few of these censorious spirits may be found in every religious community under heaven. They are not confined to any one church or religious denomination. They seem to distribute themselves throughout the world, to effect as extensively as possible the same object as he who goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But their garb of supercelestial sanctity shields them from suspicion, not altogether, but among those well meaning and timid people, who, with some difficulty, think that they are right. Evil spirits know three things: First, that seriousness and devotional habits belong to true religion ; secondly, that some Christians erroneously imagine that men who are humorous or eccentric in the social circle are never serious ordevotional ; knowing this, they create distinctions among Christians where there is no real or important difference ; thirdly, they know that rightly managed humour, tends to drive away melancholy, and allure men to our Saviour's religion. They, therefore, possess men of a gloomy temperament; and deluding them with the notion that the best

way

of

promoting seriousness and godliness is to knock down all humour and facetiousness, they set them to work to annoy and persecute harmless eccentricity as much as possible, with a pretence of doing God service. O what a number of stubborn and dismal facts I could furnish to prove this assertion, but I want to keep my mind as cheerful as I can. Difficult as it is to be calm and serene in the recollections of deep, lasting, irreparable injuries, every one of which I could prove with the utmost correctness and circumstantiality, I will try to be cheerful, and perhaps I ought to be so, when I consider that the very best Wesleyans, including ministers and people, have ever treated me with respect and kindness, and have approved of and enjoyed those very peculiarities which a potent few (as before hinted) have condemned.

It was a glorious sunshine that enlivened the

« PreviousContinue »