« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
guage, blows and bruises, murderous duelling, horrid impre: cations and daring blasphemies, tedious and ruinous lawsuits, the most malignant and tormenting passions, are the common fruits of scandal, under whatever pretence it is carried on; to say nothing of the guilt and ruin, which are likely to be entailed on myriads of the human race.
On a view of this subject, no one can say, if a remedy can be proposed, to stop the ruinous progress of this more than mortal disease, but it will be a great blessing to mankind. The remedy may be comprised in few words. The indwel ling and influence of Christian charity, will be a most effectual cure of the present, and preventative of its future recurrence. He, who is under the dominion of this heavenly temper, will find such topics of conversation, have such views of God, of himself, and his fellow-creatures, as to restrain him from a practice, which does violence to every principle of the Christian religion. But before he can attain this, past sins must be repented of and forgiven ; then the love of God, or true Christian charity, shall be shed abroad in the heart ; and if he walks in Christ Jesus, the Lord as he has now received bim, he shall be able to have his conversation as becomes the gospel
But for the further direction of such an one, it will be proper to lay down a few particular directions, concerning conversation in general ; and the right manner of spending time, deroted to friendly visiting in particular.
Such conversation should be chosen in company, as is calculated to enlarge the understanding, and store it with useful knowledge; and to warm and animate the affections, direct the desires to God and holiness, create and strengthen Christian union, lead to all the duties of religion, and prepare the soul for heaven.
If this general view of the subject be correct, neither trifles nor infamous scandal, can fur-nish one proper subject of conversation for rational, accountable beings who are made capable of rendering each other essential service. That mind must be exceedingly debased and narrowed, which can be satisfied with such conversation; and depraved as narrow,
can take pleasure in that wbich is so criminal and destructive of human happiness. Indeed, it is so clear a dictate of reason, that the noble powers of the soul should be employed on high and worthy objects, if revelation were not in existence, it could not be denied ; but plain as it is made by the holy scriptures, it is strange, so few regard it.
If personalities are avoided, it may not be amiss to take a view of prevailing vices, with an intention to strengthen our belief in the doctrine of human depravity ; and convince us more deeply, of our need of redemption by Christ.
Persons, who have some knowledge of astronomy, and a taste for conversing on this sublime and interesting subject, may lead each others minds to such a view of the works of God, as greatly to help their devotion ; by contemplating the wisdom, power, and goodness, displayed in creating and governing the universe. There are also several other to,ics of conversation, such as history, biography, and the like, in which, well read, sensible and serious persons, may feel an interest, and by conversing freely upon them, may derive profit. Thus the vices and virtues of past ages, the manner in which they have been bounded, directed, and overruled by an all wise and powerful providence ; may teach the living what to shun and what to choose, and how to conduct, in order to enjoy the protection of the universal Governor, and the good will of our fellow creatures.
But if with these subjects, persons are not so well acquainted as to converse understandingly, or have no taste for them ; they ought so well to know the bible and the great concerns of their souls, as not to be at a loss for topics of conversation. The grand and sublime doctrines of the gospel, the exceeding great and precious promises of the new covenant, its gracious and encouraging invitations ; its divine in. structions and directions, relating to the temper of the heart, the words of the lips, the actions of the life ; together with the experience, trials, conflicts, victories, joys, prospects, and final destination of Christians ; form so many rational, profitable, and delightful topics of conversation; that there cannot be the least need of descending from them, to the low and evil topics of vanity and scandal.
Nor would it be improper to labour, to improve each others minds in the affairs of life. We are placed here, by our Creator, for a short residence; whatever, therefore, contributes to our comfort and rational ease, and to the means of doing good; as well, as avoiding the troubles occasioned by imprudence or idleness, must be considered as so many helps to piety, therefore useful and pleasant. But then, this should be a subordinate subject, and he introduced with reference to our state as creatures accountable to God. But if some persons are so averse to religious conversation, as not to enter
upon it; they might find an amusement for more rational and becoming, in conversing on the necessary affairs of this life, than on the trifles and evils, with which their time is too often taken up.
It is certain we were made for society ; and a friendly in. tercourse with each other serves to improve human nature, to create and sustain sympathy, as well as other virtues, calgulated to alleviate the sufferings of life ; but entire solitude would be attended with less evil, than the too common method of spending time.
I have been thinking, said Charles, that Christians and ministers might do much towards effecting this state of things. Were they universally to disapprove of it in their own houses, were they on all occasions to refuse to join in it; and when they had opportunity, mildly reprove such of fenders, gently teach the evil nature and tendency of the of. fence, and refuse to repeat a visit to any place, where they were not allowed to have a hearing on the subject; it would be gradually weakened, and soon become so disreputable as to be laid aside. For my own part, I am determined never to spend another such season. I am sensibly wounded in spirit, that I made no attempt to reprove, or teach them a better way of spending their time. It is true, I did not join, either in the vain or vicious part of their conversation, nor give the least countenance to either ; but I am not satisfied with this neutrality. As a friend of Christ and his truth, and a lover of souls, I should not have been silent; while they were throwing fire-brands, arrows and death.
I have sometimes, said Prudentia, found myself in the same situation, and left the company with the same feelings ; and I now reckon such visits, among the most painful and unprofitable hours of my whole life. It is scarcely possible always to avoid such disagreeable circumstances ; but I am determined, at present, never to go, where I have sufficient evidence to believe these evils will predominate ; and if I am taken unawares, I am equally determined, to signify my disapprobation in some way, suited to my age and sex. Painful experience has taught me, that to spend time in such company, without bearing any testimony against the evils practised; weakens my regard for the happiness of others, and starves all the graces of true Christian enjoyment. I do not however, intend to intimate, that Christians should entirely absent themselves from the unconverted part of mankind;
there are many reasons why they should not. They have aeed of their instructive examples and pious conversation ; and these can be set before them, or at least some of them, with peculiar satisfaction, and not unfrequently with success. But still, my greatest delight is with such as love our Lord Jesus Christ.
You are certainly right, my dear, said Mrs. P. and I could heartily wish, all young Christians were of the same mind. How many allow themselves to go into circles, where corrupting and enticing evils prevail, which they have neither wisdom to shun nor boldness to reprove. At first, they sit idle and pained spectators of what passes ; but at last, fearing lest they shall be accused of stiffness and an unmannerly singularity ; they smile at what calls for prayers and tears, and falling by little and little, they fall into the depth of evils, which they once abhorred.
I would by no means, said Mr. P. recommend an unnecessary singularity to Christians in regard to visiting ; but they certainly ought to be singular enough, not to venture into the midst of evils, they have not power to withstand. But the duty of different persons may differ in regard to this. Some possess a peculiar gift to gain the ascendency over evil, by reproof, instruction, argument, or entreaties; and have boldness and confidence equal to their gift. Such persons will sometimes have greater influence by a mere look, than others would by all the reproofs and arguments they could use ; hence, it may be their duty to go much further than others, who are not blest with such a gift. But even these, need the strength of grace and guidance of wisdom every moment.
SEVERAL weeks having elapsed since the arrival of Charles, he began to anticipate a visit at the house of Gen. Americus. He had learned that Mr. and Mrs. Philanthropos were to accompany him, but had no knowledge whether Prudentia was to make one of the party. As much as he valued the company of her parents, and the friendship and intelligence of the Gen. yet he felt that the anticipated enjoy.
ment would be much lessened, if Prudentia was to be left behind. He was anxious to inquire, but feared to disclose his anxiety, lest he should be suspected of partiality for her company and conversation. The first sight of her, had sown the seed of chaste affection; and a further degree of acquaintance, served only to facilitate its growth. He found here domestic accomplishments such as they should be, and her natural and acquired abilities such as would make her an agreeable companion. He sometimes cherished a hope, that she was born to add another blessing, or rather a train of blessings to his life.
For sometime his breast had been the seat of these conflicting pasions, and he had ten times half resolved to disclose them to Prudentia ; but bad as often shrunk from the reso lution. As he intended to travel soon after his return from the visit already named, he feared if he did not disclose his feelings before that period, the neglect might prove fatal to his hopes ; he sighed, therefore, for an opportunity favorable to his wishes, and such an one he hoped would offer, if she were to accompany them.
It was not long before he heard. Prudentia and her mother talking on the desired subject; and learned from the conversation, what he had been so anxious to know. This afforded a momentary relief, but he soon doubted the propriety of delaying, till that time an avowal of his sincere affection for her person.-“ Will a more favorable opportunity offer, than may be met with now ? Or should I find an opportunity every way to my wishes, and meet with as much encouragement as I ought to expect at my first proposal ; we might feel such emotions, as would put us under a kind of forced circumspection ; and thereby disclose to others, what, at the beginning, would better he concealed.”
Previous to the intended visit, Prudentia was one day ga ing to visit a sick person, Charles kindly offering to accompany ber-she blushed, but modestly accepted the offer. Having some distance to walk, Charles made some observations on the married state, with design to obtain her o; inion concerning it. From a former conversation, he had learned her views of the qualifications, duties, and obligations of that state, to he just ; and he thought if he could novy learn that she was favorably disposed concerning it, in relation to herself, and would be inclined to enter into it, at a suitable time, and with a person of her own choice, qualified to increase