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the world, if old associations were not renewed at home. My surprise to find myself thus estimated as the receiver instead of the communicator of improvement, was not abated by overhearing my companions speak of me as a dear sweet girl; rather too much of a Methodist when I came first—but they had cured me of all that—and really now they did not see that in anything essential I was different from others; except, perhaps, a few odd notions, which did not signify, since I kept them to myself. Thus after all my pains, it was I who was amended. I felt humiliated by the discovery; and was glad to take refuge in those texts of Scripture which describe the rejection of pious counsel by the children of ungodliness.
I must be brief, and it is time that I be serious. I entered into the world. But what was the world to me? There is but one thing needful. I could neither mind it, nor be hurt by it, since neither its interests nor opinions were anything compared with eternity and the things of God. In this conviction, I began my womanhood, as I had began my life. I was cured of my expectation to convert the world, and took up, instead of it, a persuasion that the world could not be mended. I had Scripture still on my side; it was injudicious to cast my pearl before swine. I must be religious for myself, and keep it to myself, and let the world take its course. The world took its course: well had I taken mine; but though my point was plain before me, the way to it was obscured by a thousand intervening objects: and by some strange anomaly, the one important interest never came to be weighed against the matters of indifference, but it grew light on the balance and was overborne.
And now, after five and thirty years of responsi
ble existence, pausing on my course to look behind me, what do I perceive? I have passed applauded, and beloved, where the best and holiest of men have been derided and despised. That which in its pure original had no loveliness in it that we should desire it, in my transcendent
of it has had the smile of approbation from the wise and the vain. That which costs its first professors the loss of all things, has not cost me the sacrifice of a single inclination. In short, for five-and-thirty years I have successfully united what God has eternally separated. This I have done. If
would know how, listen and I will tell it. Little things I always give way in, because they were little, and religion does not consist in minute observances. When I sat in fashionable company, I talked their idle and often sinful talk, with all the zest and understanding of an amateur: religion is not talk, and any expression of the disgust I felt, would have given offence, and provoked ridicule. When I lived where the people of God were distinctly separated from the children of men, I would not identify myself with either : religion is not party, and it was my interest to keep well with all. " A thousand times I have sat by, and listened to the impugning of my Maker's laws, and the despising of the religion of Jesus, and smiled assent, or looked indifference, because some person was present, before whom I did not wish to expose my opinions. A thousand times I have helped to criticise and expose those to whose piety I might have bowed my head with shame, because I would not share the obloquy their zeal provoked.
When called upon to act with those with whom in motive and principle I was united, I have refused, lest it should offend some friend or patron in the neighbourhood. When called upon to choose a friend,
a residence, an occupation-religion doubtlessly was the most important thing; but circumstances must be taken into the account-and, extraordinary as it may seem, where God disposes all things, and commands his servants to seek his kingdom first, I was always so circumstanced as to be obliged to give up this most important thing, to accommodate the multitude of minor considerations. Consequently, my friends very commonly wanted the best recommendation: my residence generally exposed me to great temptations, and my occupations, so I complained, some way or other always led to unspiritualize my thoughts and affections. I could not worship God, I could not say my prayers at home, or avail myself of ministry abroad, without considering what would be said, what would be thought; and when
cold for want of encouragement, and careless for want of exhortation, I could not go where they were to be found, because circumstances made it convenient, or at least expedient, to do otherwise. In my habits, in the ordering of my house, it was the same. The religious benefit of my servants was, of course, the first consideration --but they were irreligiously inclined; and, as they suited me in other respects, I was obliged to connive at their irregularities, and keep them in good humour, by giving up the regulations suggested by my pious interest in their welfare.
As I grew in years, being very much admired for judicious piety, many young persons came about me for advice, and looked to me for example. Doubtless, their salvation was my greatest care; how could it be otherwise, when I considered it the one thing needful, to which all else was nothing, for them as for myself ? But for the most part I was so circumstanced, it would have been very injudi
cious to tell them so : if by advice or example I revolted them, they would leave me for more dangerous companions. It was necessary to be cautious what I said to them, because they had connexions who were jealous of religious influence; above all things it was necessary to make religion inviting : and so well did I know how to accomodate others' circumstances as well as my own, I parted from everybody in better humour with themselves than I found them, and particularly avoided exciting suspicion that anybody connected with them could be wrong. In great things—yes, a few times in my life great things came to be determined: then there was too much at stake : God did not require the sacrifice: my earthly happiness; my establishment in life; the keeping of my station in society: my means of usefulness; my very means of existing—of course God knows the circumstances of his creatures, and judges them accordingly. I always intended to make religion my chief object; but it so happened that I was always obliged to yield to circumstances.
Thus, day after day, day after day, went by. Think not it was an easy, unobstructed path. On the contrary, there never was a day but my conscience needed to be appeased for equivocation of opinion, and compromise of principle; the words judicious, expedient, conciliatory, indifferent, non-essential, were in perpetual requisition to reconcile me to myself. And difficulties--how they increased!
“O, what a tangled web we weave,
The world, myself, and God—I had undertaken to please all, and as each stood opposed to the other, it could only be done by deceiving all. A thousand opinions I asked and controversies held, whether it
was lawful to do things, which to have left undone would have ended all controversy. To a thousand painful struggles and arduous contrivances I was driven to reconcile the word of God with the opinions of men ; when to have chosen between them would have made the path of duty plain. Year after year, year after
year, went on. If any would know the result, listen, and I will tell that too.
The sun is in the horizon. There are clouds about it that did not obscure the brightness of its meridian. The vigour of life is exhausted, and the activities of health are decayed. The spirits have lost the zest of being, and the quick interests of fresh-born existence. The greater part, perhaps nearly the whole, of life is gone; and all that I have gained by it, is to experience at last what I knew at first, that “one thing is needful,” and all else is vain. I have proved it, because all other happiness has evaded mem
e-because all other favour has discontented me-because my eye has not been satisfied with seeing, nor my ear with hearing; because I have taken of earth's joys, and found their emptiness; of earth's cares, and found their uselessness, and seen both absorbed in the prospect of eternity. But this, which I have expended so many years in learning, is no more than the first thing I was told, the first thing I believed. Meantime, those whom my connivance encouraged in their choice of earth, are gone to abide their preference in eternity. Those whom I might have warned and did not, are bitterly gathering the fruits of their mistake. They whom I disowned and defamed for the world's sake, are in mansions of glory at their God's right hand. They for whose sake I did it, have forgotten me, but are using still the pleas, and subterfuges, and accommodations I taught them. And the hours that I have suffered