Page images
PDF
EPUB

which spirit makes upon the eye and other senses; because,!: common cases, we have no known practicable means powerenough to effect so desirable a thing. It has been shown how adequate Chambers' medicine (though potent in itself,) is to end. The truth is, while the eye of the drunkard is every greeted with the sight of his favorite stimulus, or of the plac where it is kept, his propensity will arise, his evil genius will the mastery over him, and inveterate habit will prevail. T force of public opinion, the fear of God, the love of life, and healt and property, regard for friends and for character, afford but a fe ble barrier and restraint to a man in the instant in which he is th bereft of reason. We say this, notwithstanding the few exampl to the contrary which the temperance reformation has occasional brought forward, -examples which, if narrowly scrutinized in their circumstances, will not, it is believed, be found exceptions what is here affirmed. For ourselves, we hold that no possib plan for reclaining the intemperate is worthy of the least coni dence, which does not place ardent spirit beyond his reach. all the plans of which we have heard, that which recommends gradual reformation is the most irrational. Is it possible to com ceive that a man, in the moment in which he is deprived of li understanding, can graduate and statedly reduce the quantity his draught, in conformity with this system of gradual amendment

The considerations which have been offered in this article, show in a strong light, the vast importance of forming correct and virtus ous habits-or tendencies in early life, when the mind and body are most susceptible of impressions, and of a permanent direction or bias. Such habits are as a wall of defense around the soul in times of danger. They take us under their protection, guard our interests, and conduct us into the path of safety, when reason and conscience are obscured by passion. They perform to our natures the office of a pilot in tempestuous weather. They are a power which is ever awake, ever active. When the storm is up, and the billows roll, and all around is convulsion and disorder, virtuous habit retains its seat, seizes the helm, and guides us on in safety. Though every other power should sleep; though the hurricane of passion should rage, and the darkness of midnight surround us; with this for a helmsman, our tempest-tost barks may ride in security, until the gale has subsided, and the sunshine of reason re-appear. Our conduct will be in conformity to the rules of prudence and virtue, even though the operation of the reflecting and moral faculties should be moments suspended,-an event which must often happen to every member of the human family, on the thousand occasions of excitement to which he is necessarily exposed. It is a difference of established habits, or acquired tendencies formed on a constitutional bias, in which consists the most important distinction between a wise and morally

correct man, in times of great mental agitation, and an irrational, reckless and vicious man, under the same circumstances. In the calm which succeeds the storm, the one is able to look back on his conduct with pleasure and approbation, the other only with regret and remorse.

We might make a far more extensive application to human interests and human character, of the principles developed in this article ; but, as we have already said all we designed to say when we commenced, we forbear.

ART. III.-A MEMOIR OF Miss MARY JANE GRAHAM.

Memoir of Miss Mary Jane Graham, late of Stoke Fleming, Devon. By the Rev. CHARLES BRIDGES, M. A., Vicar of Old Newton, Suffolk. Philadelphia; Key & Biddle. 1834.

Tuis book gives the religious history of a highly gifted and eminently pious English lady, who died at the age of twentyseven. It contains but little incident, if by that term is meant important external vicissitudes in one's life. Its interest is wholly of another sort. It is occupied almost entirely in presenting thoughts and feelings, especially as connected with the subject of religion, and in some of their uncommon and more interesting exhibitions. Miss G. possessed a philosophical turn of mind, which she early in her religious history began to indulge ; and her whole life shows, in different respects, how it affected her character as a christian. Indeed this cast of mind enters, as an essential and a chief element, into the formation of her character. And, to ourselves, the tracing out of the operation of this principle in her life, has furnished a great part of the interest of her interesting story. We have indeed admired her talents, and her beautifully humble and fervent piety, but it has been chiefly as we have seen them both developed, under the influence of this philosophical and inquisitive cast of mind. We have been pained and gratified, by turns, as we have seen this tendency of her mind, now leading her, under the influence of undue confidence in her own powers, into the very depths of unbelief, and now, again, under a different guidance, conducting her safely and even triumphantly out of all her infidel doubts and darkling speculations, into a region of clear and blessed sunshine,--an unwavering, consistent, and lovely disciple of Christ. Her history is instructive in this view of it, and particularly to minds possessing somewhat of

It is for their sakes, especially, that this review has been written. But to the memoir itself.

MARY JANE GRAHAM was born in London, in the year 1803. Her father was engaged in a respectable business in that city, from

the same cast.

6

which he retired to the village of Stoke Fleming, near Dartmou a few years before her death, and principally with a view to recovery of her health, wbich had then become very feeble. the

age of seven years she dated her conversion to God. In following beautifully siinple strain, she has herself described event, in writing to a friend, who it seems was somewhat scepti about such early conversions:-

• You appear, my dear friend, to think very early piety too wonder a thing to be true. It is wonderful ; so wonderful that, when Da was contemplating the starry firmament, he was drawn for a mom from his meditation on the wonders he there beheld, by the still grea wonder of "God's ordaining strength out of the mouths of babes : sucklings." But David's wonder and yours were of a very difsen nature ; he wondered and adored.

As facts are strongest of all proofs, bear with me a little longer, while I tells briefly the history of a child, for the truth of which I can vouch. knew a little girl, about sixteen years and a half ago. She was me like other children, as full of sin and vanity as ever she could hol and her parents had not yet taken much pains to talk to her about re gion. So she went on in the way of her own evil heart, and thoug herself a very good little girl, because she said her prayers every nig and morning, and was not more passionate, willful, and perverse, tá most of her young companions. The God of love did not think sinful child too young to learn of Jesus. He so ordered it about time I am speaking of, when she was just seven years old, that si was led by a pious servant into some alms-houses belonging to Rowlan Hill, who had just been preaching at them. The servant and an ager woman entered into a long conversation together, to which the little girl listened, and wondered what could make them like to talk about such things. But at the close of it, the old woman took the child affect tionately by the hand, and said to her, “My dear child, make the Lord Jesus your friend, now that you are so young; and when you come to be as old as I am, He'll never leave you nor forsake you."

* God the Spirit sent these simple words to the poor sinful child's heart. She walked home in silence, by her nurse's side, thinking how she could get Jesus to be her friend. Then she remembered how often she had slighted this dear Savior ; how she had read of Him in the bible, and been wearied of the subject: how she had heard the minister preach Jesus, and wished the long dry sermon over; how she had said prayers to him without minding what she said ; how she had passed days, weeks, and months, without thinking of Him; how she had loved her play, her books, and her toys, and her play-fellows—all, all better than Jesus. Then the Holy Spirit convinced her of sin. She saw that no one good thing dwelt in her, and that she deserved to be cast away from God for

One day her attention was fixed on these words, “ The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Now something that could take away sin was just what this little girl wanted; and she asked her father to tell her who this Lamb of God was. He explained the precious verse. But who can describe the raptures which

ever.

alled the bosom of this little child, when made to comprehend that the - blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin." Now she fled to Jesus indeed. Now she knew that He had loved her, and given himself for her; now the Spirit of God, who often “chooseth the weak and foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the mighty,' " " shed abroad the love d God in the heart” of a weak and foolish child, and “ filled her with peace and joy in believing.” She had no one to whom she could talk of these things. But she held sweet converse with her reconciled God and Father; and gladly would she have quitted this life to go and dwell with Jesus. Since then she has spent nearly seventeen years of mingled happiness and pain.' pp. 10, 11, 12.

From seven to sixteen years of age, nothing very noticeable occurred, unless it was her rapid proficiency in her school studies, and frequent indications, from seasons of impaired health, that probably the flower which had opened so bright and beautiful, might be doomed to a premature decay. In her seventeenth year, there occurred a very remarkable change in her hitherto quiet and happy course of life. She had been, apparently, a humble, sincere, devoted christian. She had studied the scriptures with great attention ; and, so far as appears, with a perfect confidence in what they taught her. The powers of her mind begun to develop themselves in uncommon strength, and the sweetness of her temper not only threw around them a peculiar charm, but seemed also to give assurance that they would not be perverted, as is too often the case, into an occasion of pride and self-confidence; and thas prove a snare to her soul. But the event so little to be expected in such a mind as hers, took place. Her stability in Christ was, for a season, shaken. She first doubted, then sunk gradually into the vortex of infidelity. From querying about some of the more abstruse points of revelation, she began to disbelieve them; and from the disbelief of these points, she proceeded to the natural, though dreadful inference, the rejection of the book which contained them.

For she saw that they were contained in the bible ; and if she rejected them as untrue or incredible, she also saw that there was no consistent alternative but to give up the bible itself, as a revelation from God. To this result her confidence in her reasoning powers led her. Duped by her own sophistries, she became, through the pride of her understanding, wholly unsettled from her former steadfastness in the christian faith, and completely adrift upon the wide ocean of infidel speculation. She was exceedingly wretched, as every mind must be, when it breaks away from the great truths of christianity, and plunges into the dark abyss of unbelief. But let her memoir speak for itself:

About the age of seventeen, Miss Graham's mind underwent a most extraordinary revolution. She fell, for a few months, from the heavenly atmosphere of communion with God, into the dark and dreary regi of infidelity.

Miss Graham's mind opened in a metaphysical form, unfavorable a simple reception of truth. And this, connected with a defective prehension of her lost estate, induced a spirit of self-dependence, one the most subtle and successful hinderances to the christian life. T was the way opened to a secret habit of backsliding from God. I foolish vanities of the world for a while captivated her heart; and manners were remarked to be like any other thoughtless girl's of

own age.

The doctrine of the divinity of Christ had often been to her (as many other minds cast in the same mould,) an occasion of perplent Now it was “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." Thou repeated examination had fully satisfied her that it was the truth of bible, yet so repulsive was it to her proud heart, that she was led fre thence to question the truth of the bible itself. “ I suspected," she, “ that a system of religion which involved such apparent absure ties, could not possibly come from God. Determined to sift the matt to the utmost, I eagerly acquainted myself with the arguments for a against christianity. My understanding was convinced that the scri tures were divine. But my heart refused to receive the convictio The more my reason was compelled to assent to their truth, the ma I secretly disliked the doctrines of the bible.”

Continued resistance to convictions was the natural and melanchol result of this inquiry. She determined to lay the subject aside for while, still “ persuading herself that there must be flaws in the evideno of so strange a history,” which only her want of maturity of judgmen prevented her from discovering. Those early religious impressions, tha usually form a bulwark against infidelity, in her case proved a stumbling-block to her faith. Ignorant of the native bias of her heart against the gospel, she considered them as the effect of prejudice, before ber mind had been intelligibly informed or exercised. She now, therefore, determined to burst her chains, and to think and examine for herself.

Hitherto she had confined her perplexities within her own bosom ; partly dreading the influence of external bias, and partly fearing to infuse into another's mind, doubts concerning a book, which she could not conceal from herself, might after all be true. She endeavored now to strengthen her mind by pursuing a course of intellectual study, with the direct design of preserving herself from becoming a dupe to cunningly devised fables."' And here she did not fail subsequently to acknowledge the special forbearance and wisdom of her heavenly Father. Justly might he have deprived her of that reason, which she had so presumptuously set up in his own place. Yet was he pleased to overrule this waywardness of his child, as an ultimate means of her restoration, in applying her course of mental discipline to the effectual discovery of the fallacies with which she was now deluded.

The immediate effect however of these studies was decidedly injurious. Their absorbing interest diverted her mind from the main subject of inquiry; while they proved also a temporary refuge against the uneasy disturbance of her conscience. Even her intervals of reflection

« PreviousContinue »