« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
and censuring the conduct of Mr. D--, they observed that gentleman walking to and fro in an avenue of trees, at a little distance. “ Passing civilities,” said the minister, “ always take place between us, I have a strong inclination to intrude upon his society, now that I am in possession of these particulars you mention, friend Trusty.” “I wish you would, Sir,” rejoined Roger, and try to persuade him out of his bad conceits and worldly wisdom, which have done my friend Sir Charles so much harm.” “ Yet," observed the well-meaning preacher, “ I am afraid I shall not be a match for him, for I am not used to converse with these learned and philosophical gentlemen; and if I should fail in speaking to the purpose, I had better be silent; our mode of arguing must needs be very different, and we shall, perhaps, scarcely understand what each other means.”
“ If I were you, Sir," replied Roger, “I should not be afraid to attack him, such an ignoz'amus as I might fear, but you understand hard words, and how to answer them; and you are sure of having the Bible and truth on your side. Do, pray Sir, go and talk with him.”
The minister smiled, again revolved in his mind the propriety of the measure, and at length, to the great satisfaction of Roger, bent his foot-steps towards the avenue; he followed him with his
eyes and best wishes, that some good effect might arise from the interview. Amidst all his apprehensions, Roger had one consolation in reflecting that the clergyman of the church would do all in his power to promote the interests of religion, for he was what a clergyman should be---in doctrine uncorrupt, and in conduct irreproachable. Solacing himself with this reflection, we leave Roger for the present, and accompany the minister, who, with slow and thoughtful steps, at length gained the spot where Mr. D. was walking.
To those who reflect upon the nature of the task before him, the reluctance of the minister to undertake it, will not appear surprising. To argue with a professed believer of holy writ, but who is disposed to deny doctrines therein revealed, would have been comparatively easy, since both parties would have been content to appeal to one authority, and thus they would have stood n equal ground. Mr. D.'s knowledge of the Bible was very confined, and a child in divinity might have confuted every argument he was capable of adducing from that source; but then he had other sources of argument, and other methods of arguing, calculated to puzzle much stronger intellects than those of the antagonist now preparing to attack him, and the person did not exist who had ever foiled him in an argument. An
arduous situation, indeed, for our minister; and had his mode of attack been like others with whom Mr. D. was accustomed to contend, he would have made an indifferent figure in the following pages. But it was well for him that he was in possession of one secret, namely---what was the only vulnerable part in a philosopher? ---a d this secret we now leave the readers to discover also.
Mr. D--- and the Minister converse upon Truth,
Ethusiasm, and the Christian Religion. Conscience, and Experience are appealed to. The Effect of this Appeal. Mr. D--- returns home : he receives a Letter, but its Contents are a Secret for the present.
M R . D--- was rather surprised to observe,
AV1 that after the usual salutations, the dissenting preacher still loitered in his company, and showed marks indicative of a wish to enter into conversation. He was too well bred to discourage the overture; though, perhaps, there was no person in the town whose society he would not have preferred. The politeness of his manner, inspired with confidence the diffident minister: and he ventured to make a similar remark to that he had before done to Roger Trusty.
Mr. D--- instantly concluded, that the regret he expressed, was occasioned by his own particular interest in this edifice, now about to be demolished. He answered accordingly :---“ Sir, I am concerned that you will be personally injured by the business now undertaken by Sir Charles, but I make no doubt, on a little reflection your satisfaction will counterbalance your chagrin. The general good being promoted, the suffering individual, if possessed of benevolent feelings, will not repine.”
“ Most assuredly, sir, he will not,” replied the minister. “ I, however, am not put to the trial, on the present occasion. My own private interest will be much better served by a removal from this town (which will now be the case), than by a continuance in it. I have superintended my little flock for twenty years, with very small pecuniary advantage; and in that time have refused more lucrative offers 'elsewhere. Providence now points out a removal to be my duty, and I shall soon undertake a more extensive sphere of instruction. But I should ill deserve the title of a Christian minister, did I not feel an anxiety for the spiritual interests of those I am to leave. Knowing the great influence, sir, you possess with Sir Charles, I am tempted to request your interference with him in the important cause of Christianity in this place. A person of your years and discernment, is not to be told, that it is the only system on which the good order of society can be erected. Experience, no doubt, will teach Sir Charles this truth; but it