Grace Kennedy.

Profession is not principle; or, The name of Christian is not Christianity online

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Uroftesiou is not llrtntfple;



Jiot Qhrfettanftg.



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'If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are
-.way; behold all things are become new.' 2 Cor. 5:17.

From the second Edinburgh Edition.





&Mrs. E.N- vai.dtrpoei
80 *p. ££


In the following pages, an attempt
has been made to delineate the ef-
fects that necessarily follow the in-
troduction into the soul, of a principle
characterised as that 'which overcomes
the world;' and which is declared to
have its origin direct from God. It is
not surprising that such effects should
appear extravagant to those who are
unacquainted with the powerful princi-
ple from whence they proceed; or that
they should regard them with aversion,
as the proofs of a state of mind utterly
at variance with their own. The im-
portant question, however, is, — Which
is indeed the right state of mind? In


attempting to answer this question, the
delineation of character has been chos-
en, as most likely to convey that an-
swer with force and interest to the
reader. Those who are acquainted
experimentally with the all-powerful
principle alluded to, will perceive, that
only its most common and universal ef-
fects have been ascribed to the char-
acters introduced. If the Reader feels
himself still ignorant of its nature, and
of its power, it is hoped he may be in-
duced to examine whether it is safe to
remain in that ignorance


flDenefone 3[ntrotmce&.
co mv ay; } ow *«-* Mls ' HOWJ


The Conversations take place at Howard's country Residence, a
short distance from London.

An Apartment in Howard's house.
Howard and Conway.
How. Now, my dear Conway, that we are
at last alone, allow me to state the cause of this
kind visit of yours. It is this. You have, dur-
ing the last eighteen months, heard so many
strange reports concerning me, that you have at
last been unable to resist believing in the truth
of some of them. You have heard that the ill-
ness I had, just after your leaving England, and
then the death of my poor boy, have together
had the effect of impairing my intellects; and
painful as it was to separate yourself from Mrs.
Conway in her present delicate state of health,
and inconvenient as it was in every way to leave
your family abroad without you, yet you could
not rest satisfied till you had yourself seen,
whether it was so; and you have travelled from
Lausanne to England, for no other purpose.
You are silent, Conway. Tell me, then, have
you perceived any change in me? We have now
spent two days together in London, and constant-



ly in society, and you have seen me most -par.
of this day in the midst of my family. Be per-
fectly frank with me; were any thing so sad as
a real change of intellect to happen to me, whom
in the world, Conway, should I so soon look to
as yourself, for sympathy and support?

Con. My dearest Howard, believe me, upon
my honor, I see no change in you whatever;
unless (smili?ig) perhaps a few more grey hairs.

How. Yes, Conway, many more. Yours,
too, my friend, have increased since we last met;
and. we both smiie on observing this, — such is
the power of habitual affectation.

Con. Affectation!

How. Yes, Conway, in plain words, affecta-
tion. We both suppose ourselves superior to
any thing so contemptible; but. is a smile the
true expression of the feeling we experience,
on. observing in our dearest friends the approach
of decay, and age, and death?

Con. There speaks the unchanged character
of my friend's mind! The same nicety of truth,
— the same ascription of deep feeling to slight
and transient emotions. I will not allow, how-
ever, that my smile was affected, though my
feelings might have a mixture of sadness at the
moment I smiled.

How. Well, I am glad you consider my mind
still the same. You would find it difficult, how-
ever, to prove that your smile was free of af-
fectation, — but we have not time to define smiles.
Tell me, dear Conway, what have you heard of
me? I shall regard it as a proof of your con-
viction of my sanity, the more unreservedly you
tell me every thing.

Con. I shall tell you all I recollect, my dear
Howard, without the slightest reservation.


How. lintreat you may.

Con. Yon know, my friend, I was saved the
misery of hearing- of your illness, till I heard,
also, that you were recovering-. At that time,
you know, poor Maria was considered in a very
precarious state of health. I shall not recal
those days of anxiety and suffering. The first
person I saw from England, after your illness,
was Harley, your neighbor in Suffolk. When I
inquired for you, he seemed so embarrassed, and
unwilling to speak of you, that I was quite alarm-
ed. He assured me, that your physicians had
informed him your complaints were quite re-
moved, and that they had not the slightest doubt
your health would soon be perfectly restored.
Still, however, his frank kind nature seemed
always on the alarm, whenever you were men-
tioned; and, at last, after many importunities on
my part, he confessed to me that you were con-
sidered, by those most intimate with you, to be
greatty changed, — that the approach of death
had been dreadfully alarming to you, — and that,
in short, it had actually territied you into fanati-

How. Terrified me into fanaticism! Did
Harley say so of me; and could he believe it?

Con. He said, that for a time he could not.
,He, however, had it not in his power himself
to see you; and, at last, he found it impossible
to disbelieve what was told him by some of your
most intimate friends, who had seen and con-
versed with you, and over, whom you still pos-
sessed such influence, that they actually seemed
themselves to be infected with your fanaticism,
and attempted to defend it. Poor Harley him-
self spoke of you with a gravity, very unusual


to him. 'Ah! Conway!' he said to me, 'we may
all tremble now at the approach of sickness.
It has subdued the strongest mind, and the no-
blest spirit amongst us.'

How. {Thoughtfully.) Terrified into fanati-
cism! So that is what is said of me, — and it is
to that supposition, then, that I perhaps owe
those looks of contempt, which from some quar-
ters I find it so ill to bear. Well, adieu to pride
of character, at least. But go on, Conway.

Con. Why should I go on? I only pain you.

How. No, no, — go on. I wish to hear all;
and you have promised, Conway.

Con. Well, dear Howard, I heard many
such reports about you; some rather inconsistent
with others. At one time I was informed by an
English gentleman, who, however, allowed
that he was not personally acquainted with you,
that you had changed your party in politics, and
now constantly opposed ministers. I was soon
after told, by our old acquaintance, Colonel
Grey, that your new opinions gave you consid-
erable influence with some men, with whom
your superior talents never would have given
you any; but that, joined to such opinions, they
were rejoiced to avail themselves of those tal-
ents; and that you, therefore, were known to
carry a considerable number of votes, which
ministers could always count upon. I need not
repeat those contradictory reports respecting
your public character, all of which, however,
agreed in the one point, that you were altogeth-
er changed. I heard almost as many reports
regarding your private conduct. I was told, that
you yourself prayed extempore in your family,
—that you heard fanatical preachers, — that you


received no visits on Sunday, nor would listen
on that day to one word on business, however
important, — and, my dear Howard, that your
family were treated with severity by you, at
least Charles, though to the death of poor Ar-
thur I had heard partly ascribed the unaccount-
able change in your character.

How. Why, Conway, did you not apply to
myself* for an explanation of all those contradic-

Con. Because, my dear Howard, I could not
conceal from myself that the strain of your let-
ters was really changed. I tried to make my-
self believe, that the reports I had heard per-
haps influenced me while I read, but it was im-
possible to convince myself of this. Your let-
ters are changed, Howard, in their whole char-
acter; and I confess, without further reserve,
that you are right in your supposition. I have
returned to England, the first time 1 could feel
at sufficient ease about Maria to leave her, for
no other purpose than to see and judge for my-
self, whether I was so unaccountably deceived,
or whether you were really changed, — and now
I am almost at as great a loss as ever, for I see
no change. — Yet, somehow

How. [Smiling.) Somehow I am not the

Con. I know not how it is, but

How. Do not puzzle yourself, my dear
Conway, to discover what it is about me that
leads you to believe, you can scarcely tell why,
that I am changed, — that I am not exactly what
I was when we last met The truth is, Conway,
that I am not. You shall know all respecting
this change, that I myself know. It is not only


in my opinions, it is infinitely more in my feel-
ings; and in both, most particularly so with re-
gard to the Supreme Being, and the relation
which man bears to him. How often have you
and I, dear Conway, compared our opinions and
feelings on those most important subjects. When
we last met, we were nearly of the same mind
regarding them. With what composure have
we at times traced the character of the God of
our conceptions, after having admired the won-
derful order of his heavens, and the exalted
sublimity, and touching beauty of the works of

Con. Yes, Howard; and why not with com-
posure? Is not a calm and rational state of mind
the most suitable, when attempting to conceive
or to trace the character of the Supreme Being?

How. Yes, Conway. Certainly we ought to
trace the attributes of that Being from whom
we received existence, and with whom we ex-
pect to pass eternity, with every power of our
souls deeply and solemnly engaged, and as free
as possible from all distraction But what I
wished to recal to your remembrance, was the
remark we so often made, in the days of our
warmest emotions, Conway, that while nature
was before us, — while we gazed on the mingled
grandeur, and softness, and tenderness, of a glo-
rious sun-set, for instance, or autumn moon-light,
we did not reason, — we loved, we adored. It
was when the impression was past that we be-
gan to reason. We considered the result of
those reasonings very beneficial to us, and those
moments of rapture which led to them as the
purest and sweetest of our lives, and I doubt not
they did tend to calm and elevate our minds.


JBui, Conway, did we after all know God? or did
we in truth ever worship him?

Con. Did you not say this moment, Howard,
that, on viewing the sublimity and beauty of
God's creation, we loved, we adored?

How. Yes, Conway; our hearts were filled
to painfulness with feelings of love and adora-
tion, but on what or whom did we bestow those
full affections? We gazed on the loveliness of
creation, till our hearts panted to tind and love
its Creator, — but did we rind him? We retired
and became calm; and recollecting the beauti-
ful order of the heavens, and the profusion of
charm that was displayed through all nature,
we saw dimly, that he who created and sustain-
ed the greatness, and minuteness, and loveliness,
and order of the whole, must himself be incon-
ceivably great, and inconceivably wise, and in-
conceivably lovely, — and we felt that in our na-
tures we were at an inconceivable distance from
him; and he passed from our thoughts as alto-
gether inconceivable, while we believed, that
amidst the wonderful vastness of his providence,
we, as a part, and in connexion with other in-
telligent parts of a great machinery, would be
sustained in existence till we came to the mo-
ment when we must submit to the common fate,
and pass through death — we hoped to immor-
tality; but the nature of that immortality we
guessed at too dimly, to rest our thoughts upon
it, — at all events, it would be happy to the vir-

Con. Well, Howard, I know not that by rea-
soning we can approach any nearer to God.
But, my friend, you speak as if we had actually
denied the truth of Christianity; now, in a mod-


ified sense, neither of us ever rejected the Bible
as the guide of our hopes, — and its morality, at
least that of the New Testament, though per-
haps impracticable, we considered beautifully
pure, — and its Founder

How. Do not proceed, Conway. Pardon me
for interrupting you, but I know your opinions;
they were mine, and it is in these opinions 1 am
utterly changed. Those I formerly held, now
appear to me tremendously guilty. You are
offended, Conway; but I must speak to you, my
friend, dear to me as my own soul, what now
appears to me truth as clear as day. Conway,
we have both erred, dreadfully erred. My let-
ters to you have betrayed the change in my
soul. Oh! if you knew how 1 have attempted
to express my meaning in those letters so as not
to shock you, or seem to you a madman! — and
now I have almost convinced you that 1 am one.

Con. Will you answer me one question, How-
ard, without reserve, and without being offend-
ed at my plainness?

How. I will, Conway, whatever it is.

Con. Then, in the very plainest words, my
dear Howard, were you afraid to die?

How. Plain enough indeed that question,
Conway. Do you think I should have felt so
much mortified, as I confess 1 did on your say-
ing such was the report concerning me, had it
been true?

Con. Pardon me, dear Howard; yet some-
times we are betrayed into weaknesses which
we would not wish known.

How. True, Conway; forgive my being hurt
at your question^ — I shall answer it as truly as I
can. I was not, I suppose, more afraid than ev-


ery man in his senses is, of the agonies of death.
Of what should follow I had no painful dread,
though now I think my feeling of security on
that point was most presumptuous folly. But,
Conway, there are many things in death we
must shrink from, if we have any feeling. That
man is happy, if he is prepared for it, who dies
in battle, or wherever he escapes the- looks of
wife, and children, and friends. I passed some
indescribably sad hours, when I considered my-
self dying. In these moments, the soul feels its
own weakness, and searches for something out
of itself to lean on, — I could rind nothing. My
illness was accompanied with comparatively lit-
tle fever, and left my mind astonishingly clear;
yet I declare to you, on my word, I felt no fear
which I believe is not common to every man in
similar circumstances, either of death or of its

Con. What then, my dear Howard, has so
changed your opinions and feelings with regard
to God?

How. I shall describe to you, as exactly as I
can recollect, what has passed in my mind, Con-
way; and you shall stop me, and we shall reason
on any opinion I have adopted, which to you
appears irrational.

Con. I am all attention.

How. I need scarcely remind you, Conwa} r ,
of the warmth with which I have loved Emilia
and my children, nor of my plan in their educa-
tion, to make the character of the father, and
his authority, merge as early as possible into
that of the friend and confidential guide. You
know I succeeded, and that I enjoy a large share
of their love and confidence. They all gather-


ed to me when I was ill. Even poor Arthur, to
whom travelling was so difficult and painful,
came directly to London. You know, Conway,
that I have arrived at my present age with very
little experience of misfortune, but in the mis-
fortunes of that poor boy. I remind you of all
this, that you may be able to enter into the
train of thought and feeling 1 mean to describe
to you. It was on perceiving myself, as I was
convinced, out of danger, that I began to reason
on what I had felt when I believed myself near
death. Now, Conway, listen, and object to the
smallest error in my reasoning. I felt conscious
of extreme pleasure and lightness of heart, in
the prospect of being restored to health and to
those I loved, and almost unconsciously I uttered
internal thanks. fc Great God, I thank thee!
Merciful, gracious, pitying Creator and Preserv-
er, accept of my gratitude!' — were for a time
the constant feelings and internal utterings of
my soul. Was this irrational, Conway?

Con. Assuredly not, dear Howard.

How. Well, then, this was my reasoning on
these feelings. — If I am so powerfully moved by
a sense of that kindness which restores me to
life and all its blessings, and if this feeling is a
right one, which the very pleasantness and
sweetness of it would alone almost convince me
that it was, can I have been innocent, while en-
joying all those blessings so long without a feel-
ing of gratitude? Certainly not. Am I right,

Con. I cannot vindicate ingratitude, Howard;
but surely making the very best and highest use
of the health and talents bestowed upon us, is the
truest way of proving our gratitude.


How. But what is that highest and best meth-
od of using our talents, Conway?

Con. Surely you, Howard, need not ask that
question, while your every moment is given to
your country, or your friends, or to the unfor-
tunate and miserable: — whose integrity in pub-
lic, and worth in private life, are almost a prov-
erb, — who is the beloved friend of the first and
best men of the day, the benefactor of hundreds,
the kindest master, the

How. Stop, Conway; that character is drawn
by a most partial friend. Let me now describe,
as it really is, the character of your most proud,
— most blind friend.

Con. (Rising hastily) I have no patience for
this. How can you, Howard, condescend to
such mere cant of a sect? Will you next tell
me that all men are alike, — the honorable, — the
noble, — the upright, and the base, — the corrupt,
— the profligate? What incomprehensible in-

How. Hear me, Conway; I have not said all
men are alike, — it is absurd to say so. Some
men, in natural dispositions, are almost angels
compared to others; and, Conway, to please
you, I will allow, that I did receive from nature
a mind that loved to soar to the highest flight
in honor and integrity, and scorned all that was
mean and base. Nature also gave me a taste
exquisitely alive to perfection and beauty in
all things, and added to all this, warm and con-
stant affections.

Con. (Sitting down again.) Well, Howard,
and do you mean to say such a character is not
a virtuous one?


How. No, I do not. — Such dispositions form
characters that are naturally approved of in so-
ciety. They also lead to an high value for the
love and approbation of society. Those are
therefore contented happy men, who possess
such characters.

Con. And deservedly so. But what then,
my friend?

How. This, Conway. They are characters
who generally pass on to eternity without fear
or dread, while they really are utterly unpre-
pared for eternity.

Con. How can you prove that, Howard? Is
a virtuous life an unfit preparation for eternity?

How. Who formed my mind, Conway? Who
bestowed on me those dispositions which gained
your love? Who gave me warm affections, and
good taste? Who gave me rank, and friends,
and influence, and all the sweets of life? And
why did I, more than so many others, receive
them all?

Con. {Smiling.) You have indeed been treat-
ed as a favored child, Howard; but you have
shewn your gratitude, by abusing none of the
gifts bestowed upon you.

How. Oh! Conway, God is not God, unless
he is as perfect in justice as in goodness. Such
gifts require a vast return, and what return have
I made?

Con. I must just repeat what I have said,
you have made a good use of all those gifts.

How. (Smiling.) Now, Conway, 1 must retort,
and say, 'What incomprehensible infatuation!'
I do not know in what language to clothe what
I would say, — religion has worn out all lan-
guage. In the simplest words, Conway, do you


think that a person who has received favors
without number from God, and yet lives without
seeking to know or to love him in this world, can
be prepared to live with him through eternity?

Con. What do you mean by living without
the knowledge and love of God in this world.

How. 1 mean, living with scarcely any re-
collection of his existence, — without considering
whether our opinions, and feelings, and actions,
are such as he approves, — without candidly ex-
amining the evidence of what claims to be a rev-
elation of his character and will; — in short, with-
out knowing as we may know if we will, and
loving as we would love if we knew him, that
glorious Being who is the source of all perfec-
tion, and of all loveliness.

Con. Almost every term you use, Howard,
would require explanation. That would be
endless. I shall allow, therefore, that ignorance
of the character of God is a bad preparation for
entering on that state of which we know only
that he is present there, — and beg you will pro-

How. Well, Conway, I shall return to the
history of my own mind and feelings. To me
it appeared perfectly just reasoning to conclude,
that 1 was in a very deep degree guilty of ingrat-
itude to God. It appeared also clear to me, that
I had acted like a fool in superciliously neglect-
ing, as I had done, the only book in the world,
whose pretensions to inspiration had borne the
test of the strictest examinations of ages; and on
which, those men whose characters I revered as
the wisest and best the world ever saw, had
rested their hopes of immortalitv- Nor did I


myself know of one single instance where candid
examination had ended in a different result.

Con. My dear Howard, I cannot help doubt-
ing that last assertion.

How. I only say, Conway, that I never knew
of its ending differently. Amongst all those with
whom I have conversed intimately on the subject
of religion, 1 have never met with one who even
pretended to know the Bible thoroughly, but
those who are guided by it. On the contrary, it
is as general to despise the knowledge, as the be-
lief of it. I know men, indeed, who, from early
education, are pretty well acquainted with the
language of the Bible, and who can quote it flu-
ently for bad purposes; yet even they, I now
find, are ignorant of the general scope of scrip-
ture, and the connexion of the words they quote,
— or if not ignorant, they shamefully pervert
their obvious meaning. I appeal to yourself,
Conway, when you and 1 last met, though we
termed ourselves Christians, and had partaken
of Christian rites to qualify ourselves for holding
civil offices, did we know the Bible?

Con. 1 cannot say that I am intimately ac-
quainted with the Bible; yet I have read it
through more than once, and often read portions
of it on a Sunday, — besides, you know I fre-
quently attend church with my family, where I
have so often heard it read, that it seems quite
familiar to me. I cannot, however, pretend to
be master of its contents.

Hozv. I understand you, Conway, from my
own experience. We hear detached portions of
scripture in church, till we become intimate with
its peculiar language, while we have scarcely
admitted one of its precepts or doctrines into our



Con. Perhaps so, Howard; but proceed.

How. Well, my friend, you know me well
enough to believe that I would no longer con-
tinue in this state of ignorance, at least of the
Bible, which it was in my power to examine.
As to my ingratitude, I prayed to God to for-
give me. When I sought, however, for a piea
to urge, that J might obtain forgiveness, I could
find none. 1 said, 'Merciful God, forgive me,
for hitherto I have not been aware of the guilt
of this ingratitude;' but why have you not been
aware? was a question I could not answer, but by
going a step further in acknowledging guilt, —
4 because I have been so much occupied with
thy gracious gifts, that I have forgotten Thee
the giver,' I felt that I had no excuse to plead.

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Online LibraryGrace KennedyProfession is not principle; or, The name of Christian is not Christianity → online text (page 1 of 11)