Mary Jane Mackenzie.

Geraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryMary Jane MackenzieGeraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 11)
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worthy the dignity of an intellectual crea-
ture ; how much, then, is it beneath the high
destination of an immortal one — of one
who is not her own, but * bought with a
price/

<< Perhaps your understanding may be
so unhappily wai'ped by the opinions and
sentiments of those around you, that you
may regard this as the language of bigotry
or enthusiasm. You may ask, why you
should be called upon to renounce the plea-
sures suited to your age and station. You
~ may accuse me of wishing to contract the
sphere of your innocent enjoyments : but
are those enjoyments innocent, which leave
* neither room for nor thought, nor time



GERALDINE. ^5

for prayer j' which exckide almost from
your recollection, your Creator, your Be-
nefactor, your Redeemer ; that God, who
has emphatically said, * My Son, give
me thy heart ;' whom you are command-
ed to love with all your soul, with all
your strength. . Do not deceive yourself;
if excessive dissipation thus involve you in
a constant neglect of your highest duties, it
can be no venial error. I implore you, from
this moment, to make a stand : reflect upon
the force of habit, and remember that every
day and hour passed in bondage to the
world, will render escape more difficult.
Youth, inexperience, timidity, in some de^
gree palliate the sinful compliances into
which you have been betrayed ; but the
warning you now receive, if fruitless, will
be registered against you.

" No doubt, when first you became a guest
at Woodlands, you witnessed the irreligious
habits of the family with astonishment j you
conformed to them with fear and repug-
nance:.. but the lapse of a few months
-). inod III luJ /; - ^N 6



276 GERALDINE*

softened down repugnance into reluctance,
and reluctance wa& gradually exchanged
for acquiescence, if not for approbation.
Like them, you are now a stranger to the
house of prayer ; your Sabbaths, like theirs,
are not only unhallowed but profaned by
idle amusements, by splendid galas, and
crowded concerts, in which you bear your
part •apparently without scruple or regret.
But can this be really the case ? Is not the
still small voice of conscience occasionally
heard ? Does it not sometimes excite a mo-
mentary pang, or extort a transient reso-
lution ? Can a mother^s lioly wish, her
earnest prayers, her labour of love,, be
utterly unavailing ? Pardon my awakening
mournful recollections, but let me recal
her image to your mind. Like you, s-he
was young and lovely; like you, she mingled
in the great and gay world : but with what
holy circumspection did she tread the path
of life ; how anxiously did she avoid even
the appearance of evil ; her active unobtru-
sive piety displayed itself, not in invective
against the worldaround her, but in bound-



SERALDINE. ^77

less charity, in systematic benevolence, in
tempered zeal. Rich and multiplied were
her harmless enjoyments. Oh ! do not for
a moment believe the sphere of a Christian's
joys to be contracted and narrow. A
Christian is not excluded from the charms
of friendship, the endearments of love, the
sweets of domestic tenderness ; he is not ex-
eluded from the pursuit of literature and
the fine arts ; those ha^fmless unimpeachable
pleasures, which refine and chasten the
mind. The riches of imagination, the trea-
sures of genius, the graces of taste, lie open
to him : he rejoices in the magnificence of
nature ; in the varied wonders of the
creation. He lives in the exercise of
hope, of joy, of gratitude, of love to God, of
good- will to man ; cherishing all generous,
amiable, benevolent affections; diffusing
happiness, and enjoying that * peace which
passeth all understanding.'

** That I may one day see you thus bles-
sing and blest, is the fervent and daily prayer
of Your affectionate friend,

" R. FULLARTQN.*'



^8 GERALDINE.

This letter made a powerful impression
on Geraldine : it quickened the reproaches
of her conscience ; and though, with the
dexterous sophistry so natural to the human
heart, she endeavoured to persuade herself
that she had yielded to necessity rather than
inclination ; the light of truth flashed upon
her mind with a force not to be resisted.
In vain she pleaded the practise and ex-
ample of those arotftid her ; powerful as
their effect had been upon her conduct,
they were but dust in the balance, when
compared with the simple, express, au-
thoritative command of God. In vain she
tried to solace herself with the negative
merit of having done no harm ; to dwell
with convenient humility upon her own in-
significance. Conscience was not slow in
detecting these subterfuges. She was com-
pelled to acknowledge,, that the example of
every individual, is of 'importance in the
circle in which that individual moves ; and
Geraldine felt with bitter regret, that she
had dishonoured the pure principles in



GERALDINE. 279

which she had been educated, by weak
compliances, and culpable negligence.
She reflected, that her time and abundant
resources, had been wasted in trifling, or
selfish gratifications ; and though, from a
natural impulse of compassion, she had
relieved the misery which forced itself
on her attention, she had been too idly
busy to practise that systematic, useful,
enlarged benevolence, w^hich requires self-
denial and activity, and is one of the love-
liest fruits of Christian love. A humili-
ating conviction of her ow^n weakness,
mingled with regret for the past, and fears
for the future, and the resolution she now
formed, of * remembering her Creator, in
the days of her youth,' was accompanied
with that salutary feeling of self distrust,
which excites watchfulness, and fosters
humility. Till within a short time, the
gay path she was treading appeared bright
with sunshine and flowers ; but she now
began to discern the lurking thorn "and
secret pitfall. From the moment that her



280 GERALDINE.

confidence in Montague had ceased, every
brilliantye^^, at which she had been present,
had appeared, rather like a fair pageant, to
be gazed at for a moment, than a real
scene in which she had any concern. In
the midst of a smiling and courteous crowd,
she had felt forlorn and solitary, and, night
after night, had rccurned home with a
wearied frame, exhausted spirits, and a
heavy heart. With the feelings excited by
her disappointed hopes, now mingled con-
victions of a more serious nature ; and her
sense of the inestimable value of time, ren-
dered its constant sacrifice to heartless
crowds, irksome, and almost insufferable.

Again and again she read Mr. Fullar-
ton's letter; and, at every perusal, the
momentous subjects upon which it touched
excited deeper interest and stronger
emotion.

Some days elapsed, before she sum-
moned courage to answer it ; but, anxious
to convince him that she was neither un-
grateful for his advice, nor indifferent to



GERALDINE. 281

the subject of it, she thus acknowledged
his kindness : —

** To the Revere7id R. Fullarton.
" My dear Sir ;

" I liope you will not imagine that to the
many errors of which I have been guilty
I add that of indifference to the solemn
appeal contained in the letter with which
you favoured me. If I could at all ex-
press the variety of feelings it has awakened,
the emotion, the contrition it has excited,
you would believe that it has not been
made in vain.

" I have little to plead in excuse for the
dereliction from duty to which you ad-
vert. The plea of ignorance I cannot
offer ; for 1 was early led into the path of
duty, and familiarised with all that was
fair and good. The dissipation and w^aste
of time, which might have been venial
errors in one less well-instructed, assume a
deeper shade when the early advantages
I enjoyed are considered.



582 GERALDINE.

** When I recollect and reflect upon my
neglect of religious duties, I tremble, and
feel astonished at my ingratitude and teme-
rity. I stand self-condemned, convicted by
my own conscience. The world, perhaps,
would laugh at the feelings I am now
avowing; but I cannot forget that our
thoughts, words, and actions, are to be
judged by a very different tribunal. I
would tell you of the resolutions I have
formed, if I were not checked by the de-
pressing conviction of my weakness;
but let me, at least, assure you, that
I feel an earnest desire to think and to
do what is right, and that I value your
counsel and friendship, as a miser would a
newly discovered treasure. The dear ex-
ample you bid me remember will ever be
sacred in my eyes. Hopeless of attain-
ing the rare perfection of such a cha-
racter, I may yet, perhaps, though at an
immeasurable distance, tread in her steps.
It is far more, easy to weep over the recol-
lection of her love and tenderness^ and



GERALDINE. 283

mourn her loss, than to imitate that pure
and holy life so beautiful, and, alas 1 so
brief.

Allow me, my dear Sir, to assure you
of my gratitude, and of the high esteem
and respect, with which I am.

Your obliged and affectionate,

*< Geraldine."

After the receipt of this letter, Mr.
Fullarton obtained several private inter-
views with Geraidine. He wished to
strengthen the impression he had made,
and to stimulate her to exertion and per-
severance. His language was gentle and
persuasive, yet firm and energetic. He
disdained to temporise ; but without re-
presenting the christian life as a sinecure
in which every thing was to be enjoyed,
and nothing performed, he sought to en-
courage and animate, rather than to alarm
and depress. He reminded her, that re-
gret for the past was useful only, as it in-
fluenced the future ; and directed her to



S84 GERALDINE.

seek the support she needed at that foun-
tain, which can impart strength to the
weak, and refreshment to the weary.

He urged her, in future, steadily to de-
cline those engagements which she felt to
be inconsistent with duty ; and candidly to
state her reasons to Mrs. Mowbray 5 observ-
ing that the raillery to which she would be
exposed, and the solicitations she must
resist, would be slight evils, compared with
the advantages of increased leisure for im-
portant duties and intellectual pursuits.

Supposing her still engaged to Montague,
he made some observations which drew
from her an acknowledgment of their se-
paration ; and the reluctance, the anguish,
with which she spoke, convinced him
that the sacrifice had required no common
effort.

Mr. Fullarton neither felt nor professed
that sort of stoical Christianity, which re-
quires the extinction rather than the sub-
jugation of human feehngs. He was satisfied
with steady and sincere attempts to con*



GERALDINE. 2S5

troul and regulate them : he therefore list-
ened with gentleness to Geraldine's blush-
ing and hurried tale of her hopes and dis-
appointments ; soothing her by expressions
of approbation and sympathy.



END OF THE SECOND VOLUME,



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Online LibraryMary Jane MackenzieGeraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 11)