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dered dear to their affections by gentle and judicious instruction and unceasing example. They should be trained with a delicate and tender regard to the state of their feelings and the strength of their intellect; giving a right direction to their affections, till a fixed habit of thought and devotion is formed, and by degrees they are led to look deeply into their own hearts and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and thus, studying the scriptures and reforming their tempers, they become mature Christians.
When unfortunate circumstances interrupt or prevent this process, we must use our best judgments according to the difficulties we need to overcome, to bring the mind into a right state; always remembering that the operations of God in nature, are silent, slow, gentle, and often imperceptible in their progress, and that whoever wishes to make a deep and lasting impression without risk of injury in other points, must imitate the divine wisdom.
The result of George Henderson's honest and patient investigation no rational mind can doubt; but during the period of his religious inquiry, no extraordinary outward manifestation betrayed uncommon seriousness of mind, or sadness of feeling. To a casual observer little, if any, change would have been apparent in his manners or conduct. To his parents indeed, the keen watchfulness of whose eye nothing could escape, there was much to encourage and delight. They knew not how their son was taking hold of the subject; they forbore to inquire what were his objects, or to pry into his thoughts or employments farther than he chose to communicate them, or circumstances developed their nature; but they perceived that the reed was bruised and the flax smoking, and they knew that a heavenly spark was kindling in his heart, and the spirit of pride was yielding. They saw in the little nameless attentions, which he almost unconsciously paid them, that a tenderer affection than he had before felt for his parents was animating his heart; and the casual evidences he gave of self-denial, of subdued temper, of resolute integrity and devotion to duty, told them the holy spirit was cherished, and was working within that bosom to bring it into subjection to the whole will of God. Their secret prayers were still offered in deep and earnest faith that the means might be blessed, which were in operation to effect this object so ardently desired by them.
It was on a Sunday evening in the following spring, when the atmosphere possessed that peculiar softness so powerful in its effects on the mind, the influence of which is as mysterious as it is certain ; George had been to church all day with his father and mother, and they had conversed on the subjects of the sermons; but in a general manner, and without any personal application or remark. As the sun declined, and the soft fleecy clouds were gently wasted in large masses over the hemisphere, their edges gleaming with the last rays of the departed sun, George sat pensive and silent, gazing at the heavens. There was in his countenance a peculiar expression of sweet and placid feeling, and his mother fixed her eye upon him with maternal tenderness. Mr Henderson was reading; and a long silence gave each one time to pursue his own train of thought.
“ Father,” said George, at length rising and approaching Mr Henderson, “I wish to ask you a question.”
“ Well, my son," said his father, without taking his eyes from his book.
you think it the duty of every person, as soon as he becomes convinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the redeemer of the world, to make a public profession of that belief?” asked George:
“ It is a positive command of our Saviour to all his disciples," replied Mr Henderson.
“I was not aware of that,” said George.
“Do you recollect the circumstances of the last supper, when Jesus instituted the sacrament?" asked his father.
“I do," replied George, “but I conceived it was rather an invitation than a command; and that it was intended only for those immediately present."
“You know," said Mr Henderson, that Jesus Christ, in his last prayer with his disciples, asks that all the blessings for which he prays may be extended, not only to his immediate disciples, but to every one who should believe on him through their preaching."
“ I recollect it," said George.
“ If then,” said his father, "all believers to the end of the world were included in that prayer, it is to be supposed he also intended to include all in the command to commemorate his death.”
" It seems so, indeed,” said George.
“ There is another passage, which has a bearing on the subject," continued Mr Henderson ; " our Saviour said that whoever acknowledges him before men, he will acknowledge before his Father in heaven; and whoever denies him, he will in like manner deny. I consider this perfectly in point, and sufficient to determine every one to make a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ, as soon as he truly and heartily believes in him, and hopes for salvation through him."
" As this declaration of our Saviour was made before the sacrament of the supper was instituted,” said George, “may it not have been intended only to allude to the circumstances of the times in which he lived, when it was considered disgraceful to follow Jesus Christ, and confess him to be master ?"
“ There is a peculiar force and aptness Saviour's observations,” replied Mr Henderson," which, applying exactly to the situation of the parties addressed, seemed at the moment to have no other bearing; and yet in similar situations, ever since, the same words serve to direct conduct. Allowing then that your remark is just as to the immediate object of that declaration of our Saviour, yet I am justified in considering it applicable to the subject before us; and it is probable that Jesus Christ had it in his view at the time ; for although the shame of confessing him for our Lord and master arises from a different source at the present day from what it did at that time, and though a different manner of making such a profession is prescribed since his death from what the converts were called to make during his life ; yet in spirit and essence they are the same, and equally operate to exclude us from being his acknowledged friends, if we refuse to comply with the conditions he gave."
“ There are a number of points upon which I wish for farther light," said George, " but I do not know that they are sufficiently important to prevent perfect sincerity in making such a profession. I am particularly desirous to obtain clear and settled notions, that my mind, when engaged in acts of devotion, may not be distracted by contradictory opinions. But I am convinced that we have as firm foundation for faith in Jesus Christ, as a
rational and unprejudiced mind can desire, and, since candidly examining the spiritual wants of mankind, and the exact adaptation of the gospel to supply those wants, I feel the deepest conviction of its divine origin, and the highest gratitude for its promulgation. I am ready therefore to take such steps, as you
mother may think proper."
The feelings of Mrs Henderson had been affected by the peculiar state of the atmosphere which we have mentioned. She had been indulging a train of tender recollections of her beloved daughter, so long since taken to the bosom of her heavenly Parent. She had gazed on George's face, tracing, as she thought, an increasing resemblance to his departed sister in the serene expression of his countenance; and her heart was full of
sweet and bitter fancies,' when George interrupted her musings, by addressing his father, and holding the short conversation we have related. The sudden fulfilment of a long cherished hope can be experienced by few without deep emotion. Softened as Mrs Henderson's feelings had been by her previous trains of thought, the declaration, so unexpected, which George made at this moment, was of such a nature as entirely to subdue her. She remained silent, attentively listening to all that was said; and when George made the last appeal to his parents, she laid her head on the table and burst into tears. We will throw a veil over this closing scene of our little history; and conclude with saying, that when the preliminary step were taken, George went forward in the simple beauty of sincerity, and made a public profession of his new state of mind by becoming a member of a christian church.