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and her gratitude spoke too warmly to my intoxicated brain to leave any doubt on my mind that she loved
The idea was too exquisitely pleasing to be soon dismissed. I sought every occasion of being with her. Her mild, persuasive voice seemed like the music of heaven to my ears, after the toils and roughness of a soldier's life. I had a friend, too, whose converse, next to that of the dear object of my secret love, was most dear to me. He formed the third in all our meetings, and beyond the enjoyment of the society of these twó, I had not a wish. I had never yet spoken explicitly to my female friend, but I fondly hoped we understood each other. Why should I dwell on the subject? I was mistaken. My friend threw himself on my mercy. I found that he, not I, was the object of her affections. Young man, you may conceive, but I cannot describe what I felt, as I joined their hands. The stroke was severe, and, for a time, unfitted me for the duties of my station. I suffered the army to leave the place without accompanying it; and thus lost the rewards of my past services, and forfeited the favour of my sovereigu. This was another source of anxiety and regret to me, as my mind recovered its wonted tone. But the mind of youth, however deeply it may feel for awhile, eventually rises up from dejection, and regains its wonted elasticity. That vigour by which the spirit recovers itself from the depths of useless regret, and enters upon new prospects with its accustomed ardour, is only subdued by time. I now applied myself to the study of philosophy, under a Greek master, and all my ambition was directed towards letters. But ambition is not quite enough to fill a young man's heart. I still felt a void there, and sighed as I reflected on the happiness of my friend. At the time when I visited the
object of my first love, a young Christian woman, frequent companion, had sometimes taken my attention. She was an Ionian by birth, and had all the softness and pensive intelligence which her countrywomen are said to possess when unvitiated by the corruptions so prevalent in that delightful region. You are no stranger to the contempt with which the Greeks then treated, and do still, in some places, treat the Christians. This young woman bore that contempt with a calmness which surprised me.
There were then but few converts to that religion in those parts, and its profession was therefore more exposed to ridicule and persecution from its strangeness. Notwithstanding her religion, I thought I could love this interesting and amiable female; and, in spite of my former mistake, I had the vanity to imagine I was not indifferent to her. As our intimacy increased, I learned, to my astonishment, that she regarded me as one involved in igno rance and error; and that, although she felt an affection for me, yet she would never become my wife, while I remained devoted to the religion of my ancestors. Piqued at this discovery, I received the books, which she now for the first time
my hands, with pity and contempt. I expected to find them nothing but the repositories of a miserable and deluded superstition, more presuming than the mystical leaves of the Sibyls, or the obscure triads of Zoroaster. How was I mistaken! There was much which I could not at all comprehend; but, in the midst of this darkness, the effect of my ignorance, I discerned a system of morality, so exalted, so exquisitely pure, and so far removed from all I would have conceived of the most perfect virtue, that all the philosophy of the Grecian world seemed worse than dross in the comparison. My former learning had only served to teach me that something was wanting to complete the systems of philosophers. Here that invisible link was supplied, and I could even then observe a harmony and consistency in the whole which carried irresistible conviction to my mind. I will not enlarge on this subject. Christianity is not a mere set of opinions to he embraced by the understanding. It is the work of the heart as well as the head. Let it suffice to say, that, in time, I became a Christian, and the husband of Sapphira.
REFLECTIONS-ON PRAYER. If there be any duty which our Lord Jesus Christ seems to have considered as more indispensably necessary towards the formation of a true Christian, it is that of prayer. He has taken every opportunity of impressing on our minds the absolute need in which we stand of the divine assistance, both to persist in the paths of righteousness, and to fly from the allurements of a fascinating, but dangerous life: and he has directed us to the only means of obtaining that assistance, in constant and habitual appeals to the throne of grace. Prayer is certainly the foundation-stone of the superstructure of a religious life: for a man can neither arrive at true piety, nor persevere in its ways when attained, unless, with sincere and continued fervency, and with the most unaffected anxiety, he implore Almighty God to grant him his perpetual grace, to guard and restrain him from all those derelictions of heart, to which we are, by nature, but too prone. I should think it an insult to the understanding of a Christian to dwell on the necessity of prayer, and, before we can harangue an infidel on its efficacy, we must convince him, not only that the Being to whom we address our. selves really exists, but that he condescends to hear and to answer our humble supplications. As these objects are foreign to my present purpose, I shall take my leave of the necessity of prayer, as acknowledged by all to whom this paper is addressed, and shall be content to expatiate on the strong inducements which we have to lift up our souls to our Maker in the language of supplication and of praise; to depict the happiness which results to the man of true piety from the exercise of this duty; and, lastly, to warn mankind, lest their fervency should carry them into the extreme of fanaticism, and their prayers, instead of being silent and unassuming expressions of gratitude to their Maker, and humble entreaties for his favouring grace, should degenerate into clamorous vociferations and insolent gesticulations, utterly repugnant to the true spirit of prayer, and to the language of a creature addressing his Creator:
There is such an exalted delight to a regenerate being in the act of prayer, and he anticipates with so much pleasure, amid the toils of business, and the crowds of the world, the moment when he shall be able to pour out his soul without interruption into the bosom of his Maker, that I am persuaded, that the degree of desire or repugnance which a man feels to the perform ance of this amiable duty, is an infallible criterion of his acceptance with God. Let the unhappy child of dissipation-let the impure voluptuary boast of his short hours of exquisite enjoyment; even in the degree of bliss they are infinitely inferior to the delight of which the righteous man participates in his private devotions; while in their opposite consequences they lead to a no
less wide extreme than heaven and hell, a state of positive happiness, and a state of positive misery. If there were no other inducement to
very gratification it imparts to the soul, it would deserve to be regarded as the most important object of a Christian; for no where else could he purchase so much calmness, so much resignation, and so much of that peace and repose of spirit, in which consists the chief happiness of this otherwise dark and stormy being. But to prayer, besides the inducement of momentary gratification, the very self-love implanted in our bosoms would lead us to resort, as the chief good, for our Lord hath said, 'Ask, and it shall be given to thee; knock and it shall be opened;' and not a supplication made in the true spirit of faith and humility, but shall be answered; not a request which is urged with unfeigned submission and lowliness of spirit, but shall be granted, if it be consistent with our happiness, either temporal or eternal. Of this happiness, however, the Lord God is the only judge; but this we do know, that whether our requests be granted, or whether they be refused, all is working together for our ultimate benefit.
When I say, that such our requests and solicitations, as are urged in the true spirit of meekness, humility, and submission, will indubitably be answered, I would wish to draw a line between supplications so urged, and those violent and vehement declamations which, under the name of prayers, are sometimes heard to proceed from the lips of men professing to worship God in the spirit of meekness and truth. Surely I need not impress on any reasonable mind, how directly contrary these inflamed and bombastic harangues are to every precept of Christianity, and every idea of the deference due from a poor worm, like man, to the omnipotent and