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questions, master ; why a Chrbtian to be sure.

Stock. If I oflen ask you, or others this ques.
tion, it is only because I like to know what
grounds I am to go upon when I am talking
with you or them. I conceive that there are in
this country two sorts of people, Christians and
no Christians. Now, if people profess to be of
this first description, I expect one kind of no-
tions, opinions, and behaviour from them; if
they say they are of the latter, then I look for
another set of notions and actions fVom them.
I compel no man to think with me. I take
every man at his word. I only expect him to
think and believe according to the character he
takes upon himself and to act on the principles
of that character which he professes to maintain.

Wm. That's fkir enough; I can't say but it
is, to take a man at his own word, and on his
own grounds

Stock. Well then. Of whom does the Scrip-
ture speak when it says. Let us eat and drink
for to-morrow we die 7

WilL Why of heathens to be sure, not of

Stock. And of whom when it says, Let us
erown oursehes toith rosebuds hrfors they are

Will. O that is Solomon's worldly fool.

Stock, You disapprove of both then.

Will. To be sure I do. I should not be a
(Christian if I did not

StocL And yet, though a Christian, you are
admiring the verv same thought in the song you
were singing. How do you reconcile this ?

Will. O there is no compariscA between ttiem
These several texts are designed to describe
loose wicked heathens. Now I learn texts as
part of my religion. But religion you know has
nothing to do with a song. I sing a song for
my pleasure. «

Stock. In our last night's talk. Will, I endea.
vonred to prove to you thtit religion was to be
brought into our business, I wish now to let
you see that it is to be brought into our pleasure
also. And that ho who is really a Christian,
must be a Christian in his very diversions.

WUL Now you are too strict again, master ,
as you last night declared, that in our business
you would not have us always praying, so I
hope that in our pleasure you would not have
us always pealm-singrin^. I hope you would
not have all one's singing to be about good

Stock. Not SO) Will ; but I would not have any
part either of our busmess or our pleasure to be
about evil things. It is one thing to be singing
about religion, it is another thing to be singing
against it Saint Peter, I fancy, would not much
have approved your favourite song. He, at least
seemed to have another view of the matter, when
he said, The end of all things is at hand. Now
this text teaches much the same awful truth
with the first line of your song. But let us see
to what differeiit purposes the apostle and the
poet turn the very same thought Your song
says, because life is so shor^ let us make it
merry. Let us divert ourselves so much on the
road, that we may forget the end. Now what
says the apostle, Because the end of all things is
at handt be ye therefore sober arid watch unto

WiU. Why master, I like to be sober too, and
have left off' drinking. But still I never thought
that we were obliged to carry texts out of the
Bible to try the soundness of a song ; and to
enable us to judge if we might be both merry
and wise in singing it

Stock. Providence has not so stinted our en-
joyments. Will, but he has lefl us many subjects
of^ harmless merriment : but, for my own part,
I am never certain that any one is quite harm-
less till I have tried it bythis rule that you
seem to think so strict There is another fa-
vourite catch which I heard you and some of
the workmen humming yesterday.

wm. I will prove to you that there is not a
word of harm in that ; pray listen now. (sings.)

* Which it the best day to drink— Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Salurdayr

Stock. Now, Will, do you really find your
unwillingness to drink is so ffreat that you
stand in need of all these incentives to provoke
yon to it 7 Do yon not find temptation strong
enough without exciting your inclinations, and
whetting your appetites in this manner 7 Can
any thing be more unchristian than to persuade
^onth by pleasant words, set to the most allur-
ing music, that the pleasures of drinking are so
great, that every day in the week, naming them
all successively, by way of fixing and enlarging
the idea, is equally fit, equally proper, and
equally delightful, for what 7 — for the low and
sensual purpose of getting drunk. Tell me.
Will, are you so very averse to pleasure 7 Ar9

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yoa naturally to eold and dead to all passion
and temptation, that you really find it necesaary
to inflame your imagination, and disorder your
senses, in order to excite a quicker relish for
the pleasures of sin 7

WUL All this is true enough, indeed ; but I
never saw it in this light before.

Slock. As I passed by the Gray hound last
^ night, in my way to my evening*s walk in the
fields, I caught this one verse of a song which
the club were singing :

* Brinf the flask, the music bring.

Joy fball quickly find us ;
Drink and dance, and laugh and sing,

And cast dull care behind us.*

When I got into the fields, I could not forbear
comparing this song with the second lesson last
Sunday evening at church ; these were the
words : Take heed lest at any time your heart
be overcharged with drunkenness^ and so thai
day come upon you unavoares, for as a snare
ghaU it come upon all them that are on the face
of the earth.

Will. Why, to be sure, if the second lesson
was right, the song must be wrong.

Stock. I ran over in my mind also a compart-
■on between such songs as that which b^ins

• Drink and drive care away •

with those injunctions of holy writ. Watch and
p«y therefore, that you enter not into temptation ;
SMd again, Watch and pray that you may escape
all thtse things. I say I compared this with the
song I allude to,

Drink and drive care away.

Drink and be merrv ;
Vou *il ne'er go the nster

To the Stygian ferry.*

I compared this with that awfiil admonition
of Scripture how to pass the time. Not in riot-
ing and drunkenness, not' in chambering and
wantonness, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the
lusts thereof.

Will. I am afraid then, roaster, you would
not much approve of what I used to think a very
pretty song, which begins with,

* A plagm on those musty old lubbers.
Who teach us to tut and to think.*

Stock. Will, what would you think of any one
who should sit down and write a book or a song
to abuse the clergy 7

Will. Why I should think he was a very
wicked fellow, and I hope no one would look
into such a book, or sing such a song.

Stock. And yet it must certainly be the cler-
gy, who are scofi^ at in that verse, it being
their professed business to teach as to think and
be serious.

WUL Ay, master, and now you have opened
my eyes, I think I can make some of those
comparisons myself between the spirit of the Bi-
ble, and the spirit of these songs.

* Bring the flask, the goblet bring.*

won't stand xery well in company witr the
throat of the prophet: Wo unto them thn rise
up early, that they may mingle strong drin\.

Stock. Ay,* Will; and these thoughtless peo-
ple who live up to their singing, seem to be the
very people described in another place as glory-
ing in their intemperance, and acting what their
songs describe : — They look at the wine, and say
it is red, it moveth itself aright in the cup.

Will. I do hope I shall for the future not only
become more carefnl wh&t songs I sing myself,
but also not to keep company with those who
sing nothing else but what in my sober judg-
ment, I now see to be wrong.

Stock. As we shiUl have no body in the world
to come, it is a pity not only to make our plea-
sures here consist entirely in the delights of
animal life, but to make our very songs consist
in extolling and exalting those delights which
are unworthy of the man as well as of the Chris-
tian. If, through temptation or weakness, we
fall into errors, let us not establish and confirm
them by picking up all the songs and scraps of
verses which excuse, justify, and commend sin.
That time is short, is a reason given by these
song mongers why we should give into greater
indulgences. That time is short, is a reason
given by the apostle why we should enjoy our
dearest comforts as if we enjoyed them not

Now, Will, I hope you will see the impor-
tance of so managing, that our diversions (for
diversions of some kind we all require,) may be
as carefully chosen as our other employments.
For to make them such as effectually drive out
of our minds all that the Bible and the minister
have been putting into them, seems to me as
imprudent as it is unchristian. But this is not
all. Such sentiments as these songs contain, set
off by the prettiest music, heightened by liquor
and all the noise and spirit of what is called jo-
vial company, all this, I say, not only puts every
thing that is right out of the mbd, but puts
every thing that is wrong into it Such sonffs.
therefore, as tend to promote levity, thought
lessness, loose imaginations, false views of life,
forgetfolness of d^th, contempt of whatever is
serious, and neglect of whatever is sober, whe-
ther they be lovo songs, or drinking songs, will
not, cannot be sung by any roan or any woman
who makes a serious profession of Christianity.*

* It is with regret I have lately observed, that the ft-
ihionable author and singer of songs more loose, pro-
fane, and corrupt, than any of those here no^ic^, not
only received a prize as the reward of his important ser
vices, bat received also the public acknowledgments ot
an illustrious society for having contributed io the hap
piness of their country

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Tom White was one of the best drivers of a
post-chaise on the Bath road. Tom was the son
of an honest labourer at a little village in Wilt-
shire : he was an active industrious bo^, and as
soon as he was old enough he led his father,
who was burdened with a numerous fiimilj, and
went to live with farmer Hodges, a sober worthy
man in the same village. He drove the wagon
all the week ; and on Sundays, though he was
now grown up, the former required him to attend
the Sunday school, carried on under the inspec.
^ tion of Dr. Shepherd, the worthy vicar, and al.
ways made him read his Bible in the evening
a (lor he had served his cattle; and would have
turned him out of his service if he had ever gone
to the ale-house for his own pleasure.

Tom by carrying some wagon loads of fagots
to the Bear inn, at Devizes, made many ac-
quaintances in the stable-yard. He soon learnt
to compare his own carter^s fVock, and shoes
th ick set with nails, with the smart red jacket, and
titht boots of the post-boys, and grew ashamed
of his own homely dress ; he was resolved to
drive a chaise, to get money, and to see the
world. Foolish fellow ! ho never considered
that, though it is true, a wagoner works hard
all day, yet he gets a quiet evening at home, and
undisturbed rest at night However, as there
must be chaise-boys as well as plough-boys, there
was no great harm in the change. The evil
company to which it exposed him, was the chief
mischief. He led farmer Hodges, though not
without sorrow at quitting so kind a master, and
^ot himself hired st the Black Bear.

Notwithstanding the temptations to which he
was now exposed, Tom*s good education stood
by him for some time. At first he was frighten-
ed to hear the oaths and wicked wofds which
arc too often uttered in a stable-yard. However,
though he thought it very wrong, he had not the
courage to reprove it, and the next step to being
easy at seeing others sin is to sin ourselves. Bv
degrees he began to think it manlv, and a mark
of spirit in others to swear ; though the force of
good habits was so strong, that at first when he
ventured to swear himseSf it was with fear, and
in a low voice. But he was soon laughed out of
his sheopishness, as they called it; and though
he never became so profane and blasphemous as
some. of his companions (for he never swore in
cool blood, or in mirth, as so many do) yet he
would too often use a dreadful bad word when
ho was in a passion with his horses. And here
I cannot but drop a hint on the deep folly as
well as wickedness, of beinc^ in a great rage
with poor beasts, who, not having the gifl of
reason, cannot be moved like human creatures,
with all the wicked words that are said to them ;
though those dumb creatures, unhappily, having
the gitl of feeling, suffer as much as human
creatures can do, at the cruel and unnecessary
beatings given them. Tom had been bred up
lu think tliat drunkenness was a great sin, for

he never saw farmer Hodges drunk in his life,
and where a farmer is sober himself his men are
less likely to drink, or if they do the master can
reprove them with the better grace.

Tom was not naturally fond of drink, yet for
the sake of being thought merry company, and
a hearty fellow, he oflen drank more than he
ou^ht As he had been used to ^o to church
twice on a Sunday, while he lived with the farm-
er (who seldom used his horses on that day, ex-
cept to carr^ his wife to church behind him)
Tom felt a little uneasy when he was sent, the
very first Sunday a long journey with a great
family ; for I cannot conceal the truth, that too
many gentlefolks will travel, when there is no
necessity for it, on a Sunday, and when Monday
would answer the end just as well. This is a
great grief to all good and sober people, boUi
rich and poor ; and it is still more inexcusable
in the great, who have every day at their com-
mand. However, he kept his thoughts to him-
self, though ha could not now and then help
thinking how quietly things were going on at
the fkrmer^s, whose wagoner on a Sunday led
as easy life as if he had been a gentleman. But
he soon lost all thoughts of this kind, and in
time did net know a Sunday from a Monday.
Tom went on prosperously, as it is called, for
three or four years, got plenty of money, but
saved not a shilling. As soon as his horses were
once in the stable, whoever would might see
them fed for Tom. He had other fish to fry. —
Fives, cards, cudgel-playing, laying wagers, and
keeping loose company, each of which he at
first disliked, and each of which he soon learned
to practise, ran away with all his money, end
all his spare time ; and though he was generally
in the way as soon as the horses were ready
(because if there was no driving there was no
pay) yet he did not care whether the carriage
was clean or dirty, if the horses looked well or
ill, if the harness was whole, or the horses were
shod. The certainty that the gains of to-morrow
would make up for the extravaffance of to-day,
made him quite thoughtless and happy ; for he
was young, active, and healthy, and never fore-
saw tJiat a rainy day might come, when he would
want what he now squandered.

One day being a little flustered with liouor as
he was driving his return chaise through Brei>
ford, he saw just before him another empty car
ria^, driven by one of his acquaintance : he
whipped up his horses, resolving to outstrip the
other, and swearing dreadfully that he would
be at the Red Lion first — for a pint — * Done,
cried the other — a wager. Both cat and spurrec?
the poor beasts with the usual fury, as if their
credit had been really at stake, or their lives had
depended on this foolish contest Tom*8 chaise
had now got up to that of his rival, and they
drove along side of each other with great fUry
and many imprecations. But in a narrow part
Tom*s chdise being in the middle, with his an-
tagonist on one side, and a cart driving against
him on the other, the horses reared, the carrt«g«»

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fot entangled ; Tom roared oat a great oath to
ttM other to stop, which he either could not, or
woald not do, but returned an horrid impreca-
tion that he would win the wager if he was
alive. — ^Toai*s horses took fright, and he him-
•eif was thrown to the ground with great vio-
lence. — As soon as he could be got from under
the wheels, he was taken up senseless, his leg
WIS broken in two places, and his bod^ much
bruised. Some people whom the noise had
brought together, put him in the post-chaise in
which the wagoner kindly assisted, but the other
driver seemed careless and indiflforent, and drove
oSi, observing with a brutal coolness, I am sorry
I have lost my pint ; I should have beat him
hollow, had it not been for this little accidejtt.
Some gentlemen who came out of the inn, afler
roprimandiiisr this savage, inquired who he was;
wrote to iniorm his master, and got him dis-
charged : resolvioff that neither they nor any of
their friends would ever emplov him, and he
was long out of place, and nobody ever cared to
be driven by him.

Tom was taken to one of those excellent hos-
pitals with which London abounds. His agonies
were dreadful, his leg was set, and a high fever
came on. As soon as he was lofl alone to reflect
on his condition, his first thought was that he
should die, and his horror was inconceivable.
Alas ! said he, what will become of my poor
soul 7 I am cut oflf in the very commission of
three great sins : — I was drunk, I was in a hor-
rible passion, and I had oaths and blasphemies
in my mouth. He tried to pray, but he could
not ; his mind was all distraction, and he thought
he was so very wicked that God would not ibr-
give him ; because, says he, I have sinned
arainst light and knowledge ; I have had a sober
education, and good examples; I was bred in
the fear of God, and the knowledge of Christ,
and I deserve nothing but punishment At
length he grew light-headed, and there was little
hope of his life. Whenever he came to his senses
for a few minutes, he cried out, O ! that my old
companions could now see me, surely they would
take warning by my sad fate, and repent before
it is too late.

By the blessing of God on the skill of the sur-
geon, and the care of the nurses, he however,
grew better in a few days. And here let me
stop to remark, what a mercy it is that we live
in a christian country, where the poor, when
sick, or lame, or wounded, are taken as much
care of as any gentry ; nay, in some respects
more, because in hospitals and infirmaries there
are more doctors and surgeons to attend, than
OKMt private gentlefolks can afford to have at
their own houses, whereas there neoer loas an
koipital in the whole heathen world. Blessed be
God for this, among the tliousand other excellent
fruits of the christian religion ! A religion
which, like its Divine founder, while its gralid
object is tlio salvation of men*s souls, teaches us
alto to relieve their bodiiy wants. It directs us
never to forget that He who forgave sins, healed
<liseases, and vrhiU he preached the Gospel, fed
the multitude.

It was eight weeks bafere Tom could be taken
oot of bed. I'his was a happy affliction ; for by
tbe irracd of G(yi. this k>ng sickness and solitude

save him time to reflect on his past life. He
began seriously to hate those darling sins which
had brought him to the brink of ruin. He could
now pray heartily ; he confessed and lamented
his iniquities, with many tears, and began to
hope that the mercies of God, through the merits
of a Redeemer, might yet be extended to him on
his sincere repentamce. He resolved never more
to return to the same evil courses, but he did
not trust in his own strength, but prayed that
God would give him grace for the future, as well
as pardon for Uie past He remembered, and
he was humbled at the thought, that he used to
have short fits of repentance, and to form reso-
lutions of amendment, in his wild and thought-
less days ; and oflen when he had a bad head-ache
afler a drinking bout, or had lost his money at
all-fours, he vowed never to drink or play again.
But as soon as his head was well and his pockets
recruited, he forgot all his resolutions. And
how should it be otherwise 7 for he trusted in
his own strength, he never prated to God to
strengthen him, nor ever avoided the next
temptation. He thought that amendment was a
thing to be set about at any time ; he did not
know that it i$ the grace of God which bringetk
u$ to repentance.

The case was now different Tom began to
find that his strength was perfect weakness, and
that he could do nothing witnout tlie divine as-
sistance, fi>r which he prayed heartily and con
stantly. He sent home for his Bible and Prayer
book, which he had not opened for two years,
and which had been given him when he leA the
Sunday school He spent the chief part of his
time in reading them, and derived great com-
fort, as well as great knowledge, from this em-
ployment of his time. The study of the Bible
filled his heart with gratitude to God, who had
not cut him off" in the midst of his sins ; but had
given him space for repentance ; and the agonies
he had lately suffered with his broken leg in.
creased his thankfulness, that he had escaped
the more dreadful pain of eternal misery. And
here let me remark what encouragement this is
for rich people to give away Bibles and good
books, and not to lose all hope, though, for a time,
they see little or no good effect from it Ac-
cording to all appearance, Tom^s books were
never likely to do him any good, and yet his
generous benefactor, who had cast his bread
upon the waters, found it afler many days ; for
this Bible, which had lain untouched for years,
was at last made the instrument of his reforma-
tion. God will work in his own good time, and
in his own way, but our zeal and our exertions
are the means by which he commonly chooses
to work.

As soon as he smi well, and was discharged
from the hospital^Tom began to think he must
return to get his bread. At first he had some
scruples about going' back to his old employ :
but, says he sensibly enough, gentlefolks must
travel, travellers must have chaises, and chaises
must have drivers • 'tis a very honest calling
and I don't know that goodness belongs to one
sort of business more than another ; and he who
can be good in a state of great temptation, pro-
vided the calling be lawful, and the ti.mptations
arc iK)t of his own seeking, and he l«e diligent

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•n prayer, may be bettor tlian another man for
augtU I know : and all that belongs to U9 iSfto
do our duty in that state of life in which it shall
please God to call us ; and to leave events in
God's- hand. Tom bad rubbed up his catechism
at the hospital, and 'tis a pity that people don't
look at their catechism sometimes when they
are grown up ; for it is full as good for men and
women as it is for children; nay, better; for
though the answers contained in it are intended
for children to repeat, yet the duties enjoined
in it are intended for men and women to put in
practice. It is, if I may so speak, the very
grammar of Christianity and of our church, and
they who understand every part of their cate-
chism thoroughly, will not be ignorant of any
thing which a plain Christian need know.

Tom now felt grieved that he was obliged to
drive on Sundays. But people who are in
earnest and have their hearts in a thing, can
find helps in all cases. As soon as he had set
down his company at their stage, and had seen
his horses fed, says Tom, a man who takes care
of his horses, will generally think it right to let
them rest an hour or two at .' ast In every
town it is a chance but there may be a church
open during part of that time. V ^ the prayers
should be over, V\\ try hard for the sermon;
and if I dare not stay to the sermon it is a
chance but I may catch the prayers ; it is worth
trying for, however; and as I used to think no-
thing of making a push, for the sake o£ getting
an hour to gamble, I need not grudge to take a
little pains extraordinary to serve God. By
this watchfulness he soon got to know the hours
of service at all the towns on the road he travel-
led; and while the horses fed, Tom went to
church ; and it became a favourite proverb with
him, that prayers and provender hinder no man^s
iourney ; and I beg leave to recommend Tom's
maxim to all travellers; whether roaster or
servant, carrier or coachman.

At first his companions wanted to laugh and

Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 50 of 135)