Page images

Our departure from the sick-room was affect: ing. We parted as those who were to meet no more on this side the grave.

At our return to the inn, our intention was to tarry only for the moment, just to settle with the host, and be gone.

But an event took place, which not only retarded that intention, but finally set it aside. How short sighted is man! What a perilous path he is walking!

We were returned to the inn: and while my friend left me to discharge the expenses which we had incurred there, he visited, as his manner was, the stables ; in order to drop a word on the best things among that class of people who inhabit those places, and who are not in the way of hearing it elsewhere.

He used to say, that in his opinion, no order, of beings whatever, stood in a situation more pitiable. Formed, as their society is, for the most part, of the children of the poor, they are introduced from their earliest days into this path of life, without the smallest education, or the least idea of its usefulness. And as they allvance in years, though advancing at the same time in all the phrascology and corrupted manners of the stable, they remain totally destitute of any apprehension of divine truths. Perhaps without a breach of charity it may be said, that

very few of the whole body of this order, whether considered as postillions, chaise-crivers, stage-coachmen, or.ostlers, have any more consciousness of the things which accompany salvation, than the cattle with whom they herd.

What a vast body of such characters, (could the imagination form the group,) do the various inns of the kingdom' contain ! And what a .mass of corrupt communication is perpetually produced in their daily intercourse with one another, without a single sentiment flowing from the lips of any to the use of edifying;* so as to minister grace unto the hearers ! And what tends to make the evil greater, as if the contagion of the stable, in the corruption of manners, had not sufficient scope for exercise during the six days labour of the week, there is no remission to this unhappy class of beings on the Lord's day. The warning bell of the church, which kindly calls all ranks without discrimination to the house of prayer, calls in vain to them. Unaccustomed to any means of grace, and unacquainted with either the morning prayer or the evening worship, they who among them find no immediate employment, lounge their time in the stable ; while by far the greater part are engaged as driver's of stages, and diligences, and chaises, to conduci; in defiance of all laws human and divine, a set of Sabbath-breakers like themselves, in their several journies of, business, and journies of pleasure. The number which the various inns of the kingdom pour forth upon those occasions every Lord's day, is incalculable.

How frequently hath it excited my commiseration, when in some sweet morning of the Sabbath, the Diligence hath passed the street under my window. Alas!' I have said, ' what a wretched way of life must that be, which loses the very distinction of days by such uninterrupted labour! Surely, except in form, there can be no difference of character between the driver and the horses; when both are trained to expect the going over the same tract of ground in their daily labour.' How irresistibly hath my heart sometimes, when pursuing the reflection, been impelled to admire, and in that admiration to adore, the distinguishing grace of God! · Who maketh thee to differ from another?” is a sweet morsel for the gracious soul to feed on, whenever such occasions of reflection occur. I have felt the full force of it many times on the Lord's day ; particularly when in the same moment, in which I have beholden a party of pleasure-loving creatures, driving through the streets on their various excur


sions, in order to consume this blessed day in idleness and dissipation; I have seen some gracious souls gladly hastening to the house of God, to adore his goodness, to hear his word, and to implore the effusion of the Holy Spirit on his churches, both ministers and people, on this sacred day of rest!

-The reader will pardon this digression, I hope, induced by the impulse of the moment.

My friend, as was before observed, had left me in the inn, in order to visit those regions of ignorance and sin which the stable furnisheth. And never surely was a mission to the most darkened nations of any hemisphere more needed, than to such British heathens of our own.

My friend possessed every requisite for the office. Added to a natural gentleness of manners, and a suavity of deportment, he had acquired the most winning art of persuasion. He knew how to adapt his discourse in the least offensive method, so as to arrest the attention of his hearers. And although few perhaps were ever better formed to shine in the circle of the great and the learned ; yet he had imbibed the full spirit of the Apostle's lesson, and knew how to condescend to men of low estate.'

His first endeavour was directed to find out some leading trait of character in the poor uninformed mind of the person he addressed.-His next object was to suit his discourse in correspondence to his apprehension. And in cases where but little opportunity offered of a personal conversation, if providentially any of the fraternity had acquired any knowledge in letters, he had the pleasing art of prevailing upon them to accept of one or more of the pious little tracts, which are now so generally circulat, ed, and which he always carried about with him in his pocket for this purpose.


Ir so happened, that a poor boy, who acted as subordinate to the ostler in the stable, and indeed as a general underling to all the menial servants of the inn, was engaged in rubbing down one of the horses in the stall, when my friend entered the stable. The gentleness and condescension with which my friend bid him good morrow, so very dissimilar to the surly language which he in general received from his companions, soon called up his attention. And as my friend entered further into conversation with him, first un subjects pertaining to his

« PreviousContinue »