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had passed that person on the road, but with merely a slight salutation. "He did, indeed, begin to accost my son," continued he, "and, probably, would have had some talk with him, if"
"Yes," interrupted young Wilful; "but I did not care to talk with him."
"Indeed!" said Paul; "you would have found his conversation edifying."
"Oh! as for that," said Stubborn, "we did not need his discourse. My brother-in-law, Master Strong-speech, can tell us all we wish to know on religious matters. I dare say you may have heard of him?"
"I have heard him mentioned," said Luke; "but not as one regularly brought up and called to the ministry."
"What signifies that?" answered the other. "111 warrant he knows as much, and, perhaps, more than some of those that have had a fine education, which you seem to think so necessary."
Luke. I do not say that a man may not acquire much spiritual knowledge without that advantage; and that in instances where this occurs, perhaps it is even more creditable to him, as it shews more self-exertion (especially if he be of a teachable mind,
and is not led away by 'zeal without knowledge'); but, in my opinion, these instances are the exception, not the rule."
Stubborn. I don't trouble my head about your exceptions nor your rules; all I know is, that I had rather listen to Strong-speech, who makes you hear whether you will or no, than to a tame, dull proser, who tells you nothing new from Whitsuntide to Christmas.
Paul. I must say, I think it rather unfair to call all who differ from your friend tame, dull prosers; such being very far from the fact, or rather contrary to it.
Stubborn. Well, but we don't want to be told continually what we all knew before.
Paul. Certainly not, if novelty is the only thing you seek; but " if ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them," was said by One who knows our hearts, and the deceitfulness of them, better than we ourselves can ever do; and I fear that few of us are so perfect as not to require being frequently reminded of those very things we may boast of knowing so well.
"Pray may I ask," said Luke, "what are those new things which your favourite instructor tells you?"
At this question the other seemed to be somewhat puzzled; for, in fact, he was one of those who are said to have "itching ears," and are apt to be more impressed by the manner than the matter of a teacher: at last he said, with some hesitation, "Oh! he tells his hearers that faith is all in all, and that works are nothing, or worse than nothing: that some of the people listening to him are elected to salvation, and others doomed to perdition."
Paul. Then, according to his own doctrine, he may as well cease preaching altogether, as he can scarcely hope to alter what he has just declared to be irrevocable. But does the word of God tell us that? I think if you reflect, you may call to mind numerous passages with a direct contrary tendency. "Turn ye, turn ye; why will ye die? saith the Lord." — "When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive." And, on the other hand, the great Apostle of the Gentiles says, "Lest when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away." By which, and many other passages, it appears to me that the best of men may not feel quite certain of their final acceptance, while continuing in this world of tempt
ation, nor the worst despair of pardon on repentance and true faith in the blessed Kedeemer.
Stubborn. I don't deny that sinners are often converted in less time than you and I have been talking about it, and immediately become the greatest saints.
Paul. That sinners are thus converted, experience, as well as charity, will not allow us to doubt, but that those very sudden conversions you speak of are always the truest, or the most permanent, I much doubt; for the operations of the Holy Spirit, by which alone men are brought to repentance, are thought to be gradual, and sometimes even imperceptible.
Just at this point of the conversation, I observed that Stubborn missed his son Wilful, who had lingered behind, and was descried lying by the wayside. He called to him to come on, but he either did not or would not hear, so the father exclaimed, "I must go and see after that idle boy of mine; who, I suppose, is tired, as he often is, and, perhaps, asleep."
Paul said he thought they could not be far from the Interpreter's house, where, if they gained admittance, he could rest from his fatigue; Stubborn paid little attention to this, but turned back to speak to his son, and Luke asked his cousin if they should wait for him?
"No," said Paul, "for as we are not walking fast, he can easily overtake us, if he wishes it. So they proceeded on their way, and as they did so, thought they heard tones of altercation between the father and son; and, looking back, saw that they had not advanced a step forward. Luke said he supposed the boy was weary of the sameness of the road, and wanted to go back, and his father was trying to dissuade him from it.
Paul. We shall see; but, in my opinion, neither of them have any great inclination to proceed. Let us walk leisurely on, and leave them to do as they list; for, with some people, well-meant persuasion is considered impertinent interference, and only deters them the more from compliance."
I saw then, that the two pilgrims continued their usual brotherly converse with each other, till they came to a pleasant avenue of trees, which, as they soon perceived, led to an old-fashioned but handsome house. "This must surely be the Interpreter's," exclaimed they; and they were right. They rested for a few minutes on a grassy seat in