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viduals, with whom I have daily or occasionally associated. Hence the difference in the character of our minds, which originally, I believe, were constituted very much alike.'
The entrance of company now put an end to the conversation. But it was a subject of deep meditation, and humble petition, that they might be guided by the spirit of wisdom and divine love, in all their endeavours to influence the mind of their beloved son.
Beside the causes which Mrs. Henderson had enumerated to account for their son's deistical opinions, there were others in operation, of which both his parents were ignorant. Or rather, the same causes were operating under different circumstances, for it was still the doctrines called orthodox, which were increasing and confirming George's erroneous opinions. Edward Burrel, a fellow apprentice, and an intimate friend of George Henderson's, had a share in the unhappy influence exerted over his mind. This young man had imbibed some doubts on religious subjects, from various sources; but his notions were crude, and his knowledge of the particulars in dispute trifling, until a young lady, a cousin of his, for whom he had entertained a youthful passion, became deeply affected by a Calvinistic awakening, produced by the labours of an itinerant preacher in a place where she had been visiting. After her conversion, as she termed the state of mind she was in, whenever Edward Burrel visited her, she introduced the subject of religion, and tried to create in his mind feelings similar to those she had experienced from the new kind of preaching she had heard. It happened, unfortunately, either that her cousin required clearer and stronger arguments to convince him, than had been effectual with her; or that those she ing the
adduced, if they originally possessed power, were deprived of it in the process of passing through her mind. Edward Burrel constantly showed himself the better disputant. Yet, though never vanquished, he failed on his part of convincing his fair cousin of her antiquated and superstitious errors, as he called her opinions. This be
case, he resolved to arm himself more thoroughly for the combat; and with that view, read all the deistical and infidel works he could obtain. Thus strengthened in his belief, that no divine revelation had been made to mankind, and confirmed in the opinion, that all things owe their origin to chance, and that annihilation ensues on the dissolution of the body; he renuwed the controversy, and had greatly the advantage over his loquacious antagonist.
It sometimes happened when visiting his cousin, that he met a clergyman, who, having learned the change in the lady's sentiments, and seen her at his church, valued such an acquisition too highly to risk losing it by neglect. He therefore called upon her, as frequently as he could ascertain that her father was absent; for he was aware that his visits would not be approved by him, and that the rules of etiquette did not justify his visiting, uninvited, at his house. Whenever he had opportunity, he did not fail to use it, to confirm her faith in the views which she had embraced, and to give her more and deeper prejudices against those who differed from her in opinion. He reminded her that Jesus Christ had declared that he came to “set a inan at variance with his own family, and the daughter against her mother,” and that “a man's foes should be those of his own household;” and this he assured her would always
when any member of a family was awakened to the truth as it is in Jesus, and became converted; and
be the case,
should such prove to be her fate, she must rejoice to be accounted worthy of suffering persecution for the sake of her Saviour. He supplied her from time to time with arguments to maintain her warfare with her infidel cousin: and occasionally, when these two champions met, they had a skirmish on the debatable ground. The young lady profited greatly by these conversations, and was thereby enabled to hold on the controversy, beyond all Edward Burrel's expectations. He often invited his friend George Henderson to visit his cousin with him; and was not a little proud to have such a witness to the victories, which he obtained in their polemical discussions. His opponent, as usual, became more dogmatical and pertinacious, the oftener she was convicted of an absurdity, and rendered unable to extricate herself. And she might at length have been discouraged, and disgusted with the unequal contest, had it not been that she sometimes wandered from the defence of the creeda, doctrines, and speculations of men, and stood on scriptural ground; and then the fundamental truths of the christian religion supplied her, from time to time, with unanswerable arguments. The strength these truths afforded her, preserved her confidence in the whole system which she advocated; and left her without a doubt as to the soundness of all her opinions.
It was, on the other hand, the circumstance of her attempting to defend the palpable absurdities of the tenets she had embraced, that served to confirm Edward in the belief, that her whole system was without foundation. Thus each assisted to chain the other's mind in false notions.
George Henderson had been furnished, in his early education by his mother, with such sound arguments to prove the existence of Deity, and that infinite wisdom and goodness are the attributes of God, that Edward Burrel's atheistical opinions could make no impression on his mind. He had been led from his earliest recollections to perceive and adore the wonderful manifestations of God's love to man, his wisdom and power, in the glorious works of creation and providence; and nothing could efface the deep impression. But the young lady advocated doctrines so evidently absurd, and constantly proved to be so by Edward Burrel, that the result of these conversations, in respect to him, was in unison with his prejudices, and tended to strengthen his disbelief of revelation. His reading confirmed him in these views. "Edward Burrel,' he thought, does not believe enough; there is incontestable proof of a First Great Cause, possessing all possible perfections. Louisa Seymour believes too much; it is absolutely impossible that an infinite can be contained in a finite being; that God, immeasurable, unbounded, eternal, omnipresent, as well as omnipotent and omniscient, could be born in the circumscribed form of man, and be confined to pass a temporal life on earth, and then die. God die! It is a contradiction, not only in language, but in ideas;-it may as rationally be said, that a part is greater than a whole; that time comprehends eternity; vhat truth is contained in falsehood; and goodness in sin. God remains for ever in his own infinite existence; diffusing, by established laws, his overflowing bounty on his dependant creatures, whom he will ever protect, overrule, and govern, according to his infinite wisdom.'