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smile and a cordial greeting, and began instantly a poetical quotation from one of his favorite authors.
“ Sit down, Mr. Middleton,” said I. “Sit down, I have sent for you to have some serious conversation with you.”
- Serious conversation with me ! But — but — why what is the matter, Mr. Morton ? You look grave, - you
look disturbed. Why, has any accident occurred ?"
“ Mr. Middleton, you are a professed minister of the gospel. It is yours to instruct the ignorant, to reclaim the erring, and to aid the sinner in making his peace with God. Tell me, what shall I do to be saved ?" “O, that is perfectly easy. Repent of your sins, and be
0: lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“But what is it to repent ? and what is it to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ ? " “To repent is to be sorry
have sinned, to cease to do wrong, to amend your life, and do right for the future. To believe on the Lord Jesus is to believe that he was a great and good man, extraordinarily endowed, and sent into the world to be the model of human perfection ; and also to have full confidence that if you follow his example you will have true righteousness and be acceptable to your Maker."
“But here are my sins which I have committed. They are black, and cry to heaven for vengeance. How shall I efface them, and escape the punishment they so richly deserve ?”
“Give yourself no trouble about them. This idea of punishment is all a mere bugbear. There is no other punishment for sin than its natural consequences. You put your hand into the fire, it is burned, because such is the law of your nature.
, You do wrong, you suffer the consequence, for the me reason; cease to do wrong, do right, and then you will experience the natural consequences of doing right.”
“ But will not the memory of the past remain, and also the consequences of my past wrong-doing? Is there or is there not remission of sin ?"
“Why, Mr. Morton, in what school of theology have you studied ? Forgiveness of sins there certainly is, but no remission of the penalty which the order of nature attaches to transgression. The forgiveness is nothing but the complacency with which God regards the penitent. When you cease to do wrong and come to do right, you are regarded by the great Author of the universe precisely as if you had never done wrong. He looks upon you in the same light he does upon those who have always walked uprightly. This is forgiveness. It is admitting you, notwithstanding your past errors, to the rewards which are attached by the order of nature to well doing. Beyond this there is no forgiveness. “As I live,' saith the Lord, I will not clear the guilty.' The remission of the punishment of sin is a notion that sprung up subsequent to the times of Christ; it is without foundation, and, withal, of dangerous tendency. No, Sir, if you have sinned you must suffer the consequences, be they what they may. We can hardly expect the Almighty to work a miracle in our behalf. He has made all things well. He has given us a perfect law. If we conform to it we receive good ; if we do not, we receive evil. Here is the whole mystery of redemption and reconciliation.”
" But what am I to do with this terrible remorse I suffer?" “ Bear it like a man.
You have brought it upon you by your own folly, disdain to pine and whimper under it, or to ask Almighty God to change the beneficent order he has established to interpose to relieve you from it. No man should ever shrink from submitting to the natural consequences of his own actions. You are to be submissive and humble. But true submission is in accepting the order God has established ; and true humility is in being satisfied with it, and in bearing without a murmur whatever it requires you to suffer.” 6 But is there no mercy
Mercy ? Yes, in the order itself, but no extra-mercy. The order established is good, and if good it is merciful ; for mercy is nothing but a special aspect of goodness, the face of goodness turned towards the suffering.”
“ But what am I to do in order to do right, and to bring myself within the category of those who will receive good ? "
“Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbour as yourself. You love God by loving his children, the same as you see and know God in his works. To love him you must love your fellow-men, and seek to do them good.”
" But what is for their good ?”
“ Their good? Why, you must seek to relieve their sufferings, to elevate their condition, to enlighten them, to aid them in cultivating their natures, and in attaining to perfection.
“ But tell me, Mr. Middleton, what is the destiny of man? What were we made for ?"
“ Made for? For perfection to be sure. We were made imperfect; our law is progress, and our end is perfection. We must become men, full-grown men, with all our faculties fully and harmoniously cultivated, and then we shall have fulfilled our destiny ?"
" And then ? "
“Why, then — nothing. When a being has, fulfilled its destiny, it has nothing more to do. But we shall never fulfil our destiny, but be always fulfilling it. We shall grow larger and larger for ever, but never fully attain our growth. Thus we are destined, properly speaking, to eternal progress, to be eternally rising higher and higher, and approaching nearer and nearer to God."
“ But, Mr. Middleton, I have no heart to go into these speculations to-day. I feel that I have made a mistake and
I am here, a sinner, and I wish not to be one. What will
do with me. I want the inward peace of mind which flows from the consciousness that we have done right, and the full conviction that we are now in a state of reconciliation with the Supreme Being. How shall I get it ?”
Repair the wrong you have done so far as in your power ; resolve to do wrong no more ; be on your guard against temptations ; cultivate a serious state of mind ; acquire habits of reflection ; and seek out opportunities of doing good to those around you who may need your good offices. Be not cast down, nor unduly elated. You may have done wrong, but you must know that your wrong-doing has not offended God, or alienated his affections from you. He is always placable. Your good actions cannot benefit him, and your evil actions cannot injure him. Have no uneasiness so far as he is concerned, and so far as concerns yourself cease to do evil, and learn to do well, and all will go well with you. You will become absorbed in your plans of reform and works of beneficence ; your remorse will soon spend its strength; and, your conscience now satisfied, you will recover and maintain inward peace and serenity.”
Our conversation lasted some hours, but all that was said was to the same purpose, and, strange as it may seem, afforded me no little consolation. The old man had assured me that Katharine yet lived, and was safe. It was true I knew not where she was, and it was no slight torture to be separated from her. But I trusted I could find her, and could easily pacify her for the great wrong I had meditated against her. The wrong I had already done her, I could therefore undo. Then my remorse was not for having sinned against God. I felt no compunction for my conduct before God, but only because I had done foul injustice to a human being whom I loved. If this injustice towards her was repaired, I should be freed from all remorse ; and, if I could but recover her I could go on VOL. II. NO. I.
your natural roughness. Whether you are pleased or displeased at what I
I care not. I came in here to bring you what you need."
“ And what is it you think I need ?”
“ You need to be told that you are poor and miserable, a mean and despicable wretch, -- and that I tell you. You need to see a face that can look on you with
contempt, and that you may see if you will raise your eyes.
I know not why you should address me in this rude manner. I am sure I have never wronged you."
“Wronged me! Pray, who do you think yourself? You never had power to do me good or evil.”
“ Why, then, address me so uncourteously ?” “I speak as seems to me good. When you
deserve to be addressed as a man, I will speak to you in other terms. Till then, I can only tell you how poor and contemptible you are, and how much I loathe you; may you remember what I tell you, and find pleasure in contemplating yourself. I go now. I shall see you again hereafter.”
So saying, he left me, bewildered and not a little angry. I rung to send a servant to watch his motions, but he had suddenly disappeared, and no one had seen him, or could discover which way he had gone.
For a long while I pondered on this old man, his sudden appearance and disappearance, his rude speech, and his possible motive for insulting me. I at first concluded he must be insane ; but his manner, though singular, was yet not that of a madman. His look was firm, and his words and tones appeared to be measured, and his whole address, excepting the meaning of his words, was polished, and betokened a man of the world. He did not appear to be angry, or to be moved by any sudden fit of passion or humor, but to act on a settled plan, with the cool deliberate intention of offering me an insult.
There was something extraordinary about this old man. While he was in your presence you felt he was your master, and you were awed into submission. You could not but feel that he had a sort of right to say to you what he pleased. His words did not seem to be idle words; I was therefore unable, after he had left me, to get them out of my mind. They stuck by me. It was odd that this old man should call me poor and destitute, mean and contemptible, since my wealth was very extensive, and I
VOL. II. NO. I.