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DIALOGUE

ON

PROVIDENCE, FAITH, AND PRAYER.

SECOND EDITION.

PRINTED FOR THE

American Unitarian Association.

BOSTON,
GRAY AND BOWEN, 135 WASHINGTON

1830.

STREET.

Price 4 Cents.

PRINTED BY I. R. BUTTS....BOSTON,

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Mr and Mrs HENDERSON had lately buried their eldest daughter, a lovely girl of eighteen. Their feelings on this occasion were such as affectionate parents usually experience when thus severely afflicted. They were amiable people, and had lived together very happily twenty years. They had brought up a family of four children, and had found as much to love and approve in them as they could reasonably hope. Living in the middle ranks of society, as far removed from degradation on one side, as from the circles of fashion on the other, they had escaped, perhaps, the severest trials of virtue. They had passed along so far in life, with no other notoriety, than that of being spoken of among the circumscribed number of friends, whom they had attached to themselves, as an inoffensive, kindhearted, unassuming couple, with a family of orderly and good children, the eldest of whom, now lately deceased, was very lovely in person and mind. Their two sons, one sixteen, and the other fourteen years old, were both apprenticed to substantial good men in the city of Boston, and gave reason to expect that they would satisfy the af. fectionate and natural hopes of fond and rational parents. Their youngest child, a daughter of eleven years, was still at school. She had been called home by the sickness of her sister, and with her parents and brothers, had attended and watched the_declining young creature, till she sunk under the pressure of her disease, and was relieved by death from all mortal sufferings. Mr and Mrs Henderson at this time experienced feelings, not unusual on such occasions. At first their bodily fatigue, then the excitement of numerous visits of condolence, the sudden relax. ation from all personal and mental exertion, and the overpowering sense of their heavy loss, all combined to render their emotions agonizing. For a time they gave themselves up, without restraint, to the indulgence of their grief. But they were sober, temperate people, and under the habitual restraints of reason and religion. Their minister also was kind and sympathising. He made them frequent visits, and offered them the consolations sug. gested by his nature, and his office. The hopes of the christian faith, and the support of philosophy, which he said admirably harmonized with the principles of religion, were pointed out; and he endeavored to convince them of the duty and the wisdom of restraining grief, and subduing all spirit of complaint. They had indeed no disposition to murmur at the dispensations of Providence, and assured their friends they would not, if it were in their power, call back their beloved child from the happy state to which they believed her removed, and again involve her in the trials and troubles of life. And yet,” said Mr Henderson," it is a dark and mysterious dispensation. I cannot see the hand of a merciful God in it, though I will not say I doubt of God's mercy in anything."

They were alone when Mr Henderson made this ob

" It

servation to his wife. They had been conversing on the promising qualities of the dear girl they had buried; and the contemplation of the happiness they had hoped to enjoy in her mature years, seemed to aggravate their sense of her loss, and renew their grief for this heavy bereavement. Mr Henderson, particularly, seemed to find it difficult to reconcile his mind entirely to his trouble. He had often manifested this state of feeling, and his wife this evening ventured to remark upon it.

“Your faith appears to me to be weaker than mine," said she, in reply to her husband's observation. seems to me that, respecting those dispensations which are involved in the clouds and darkness that are around the throne of God, you have doubts of his mercy; though you are not willing to acknowledge your doubts.”

“Can you always perceive the benevolence of God, in every event of life that takes place ?” asked Mr Henderson.

"No, my dear," replied his wife, “I do not pretend to be so much clearer sighted than my neighbors; but my not being able to perceive it, does not cause any doubts to arise in my mind respecting the existence of that benevolence."

6. Well, I said I did not doubt the mercy of God,” interrupted Mr Henderson, “but that I could not see his mercy in all his providences. I wish I could see it, in the case of our dear Elizabeth's death. I must say it would be a great comfort to me."

" But there is certainly a difference in our state of mind,” observed Mrs H.“ and it seems to me that you do feel doubts, and painful ones; while, at the same time, your rational convictions forbid you to doubt. I on the

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VOL. II.- NO. XII.

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