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I soon found that the great difficulty in her mind, which prevented her from receiving Christianity as a supernatural revelation, consisted in her strong conviction of the permanence of all God's laws. This seemed to be an instinct of her mind; this belief in Law. She could not believe in a miracle, because it was a violation of a law of nature.
As soon as I found where the real difficulty lay, I was able to suggest the very simple thought by which it was removed. As it happened, I had been myself troubled in mind on this very point. "How do you know," said I, "that a miracle is a violation of any law? The Bible nowhere defines it so. A law, or rather power, of nature may be overcome and neutralized by another power, without being suspended. A power may be above nature, without being against nature; it may be supernatural, without being unnatural. One who saw water raised in a pump for the first time, might think it a violation of the law of gravity, - might think that the weight of the water was taken away. But we know that it is merely overcome by the presence of new power, the weight of the atmosphere. Now can we not suppose that God interposed in the time of Jesus, and gave him a new power by which to work miracles, not by violating any law of nature, but by overcoming it?"
By means of this simple suggestion, and the various illustrations and reflections accompanying it, the main objection in the mind of my friend to a supernatural revelation was removed. But she did not become a complete believer, until she had carefully studied the external evidences of Christianity, particularly in the Introduction to
the New Testament, by Michaelis. This book, which she found by accident, and which I should never have thought of recommending to her, removed wholly her remaining doubts, by showing her the way in which the books of the New Testament had come down to us.
And now, having thus described her intellectual change, I find myself unable adequately to speak of the change of heart and life which followed from it. She was not a person to go half way in any thing. Having become a believer, she became a trusting, childlike believer. The words of Jesus had become to her spirit and life. Before, she had almost lived without prayer, from a doubt whether it was consistent with the attributes of God to answer prayer. Now, prayer was the breath of her life; it was her daily food and nourishment; she lived on it. She felt it her duty publicly to unite with the church, and as she had been known to be an unbeliever, to let her present light shine. She was a most active and useful member of the church. She took a class in the Sunday School, and her class was soon the most interested one, and the most interesting, there. She volunteered to teach the Sunday School children to sing, and met them every week, after her harassing labors in her private school were over, and, though exhausted in body and mind, never failed to show the deepest interest in their progress. The Bible became the object of her constant study and chief interest. She visited the poorer members of the church, and those whom she thought might be neglected, or those who were in need of comfort or advice which she could give. The church never knew how much it owed to her.
Out of the church, her influence was also felt. The members of Orthodox churches, who saw her manner of life, her faith, her piety, used to say to one another,"Whatever other Unitarians may be, Mrs. is certainly a Christian. If ever there was a pious and holy woman, she is one." She took a deep interest in the slaves, and was their wise friend. I well remember one poor slave in particular, whose temper was so violent that she could not be kept anywhere, who used often to be whipped every day, and then sent home, who came and worked in the family where Mrs. was, in order to be near her, and made the best servant in the house. She did not even need a harsh word. Every night, after her work was done, she would go up to this lady's room, and Mrs. would teach her how to command her passions, would give her religious instruction, and would show her how to act toward a little black boy, her child. In this way she seemed to feel that she was a debtor to high and low, to young and old, to all whom she could by any possibility benefit.
In her own private school her new spirit soon showed itself. This school had diminished till only ten or twelve children remained; but these had, at last, learned to understand her, and she had succeeded in carrying out her plans of government. Her school was now a little, fam
ily, a group of friends. All the children had caught her ardent thirst for knowledge, some of them her loftier love of truth. All felt that deep attachment for her, which we only experience toward those who have awakened our spiritual natures, and roused us to a consciousness of the high ends for which we were born.
Ever since Mrs. became a Christian, she had felt great sorrow at not having exercised a distinctly religious influence on the young persons whom she had formerly had under her care. She had avoided saying any thing to them to excite doubt, but she had not encouraged faith or prayer. Now, she wished to exercise a direct religious influence upon her school, which she felt would be an advantage to the children in more ways than one. But some difficulty attended it. It had never been usual in the schools in **** for prayers to be offered by the teachers, and Mrs. could judge a little of the feelings of her own scholars, by hearing some of them speaking of a teacher who had just attempted to introduce the custom, and saying that "they would not go to a school where they had prayers." These difficulties she overcame with great judgment. One day a little girl did something wrong, and Mrs. said to her, "Why have you done this? Do you wish to give me trouble and make it harder for me to teach you?" "No," said the little girl. "Then why do you do so?" "I am sure I don't know. I don't wish to. I try not to displease you, but I forget." "Well," said the teacher, "do you not think that you would remember better, if we were to take some few minutes every morning, before school begins, to think about the faults we are likely to commit, and to make resolutions not to do them?" "I suppose so, - I should like that." So also the other children said. The next day, before school began, Mrs. -reminded the scholars of their plan, and said, "Let us put our heads on the desk and be silent for a few minutes, while we make our resolutions." One of them, ob
serving that the teacher also put her head on the desk, said afterward, "Do you make resolutions too, Mrs. "O, yes!" she replied; "I must make resolutions not to be provoked with you when you do wrong, to keep my temper, and not be tired of teaching you. And besides, I know that I cannot keep my resolution except God helps me, and so I ask him to assist me to resist my temptations and to do my duty." The next day, one of the girls said, "Mrs. will make resolutions your aloud?" The teacher said, "" ― I will, if you all wish it." All agreed in asking her, and she, knowing that they understood that it was a prayer, made a short prayer for them and for herself. And, at their request, she continued this practice, and so introduced prayers into her school by the request of the scholars.
It only remains for me to speak of her own happiness in her religion. Her labors were arduous, her cares great; she was obliged to be separated from her family, to whom she was tenderly attached; her health was very poor; her prospects by no means encouraging; she had little of the kind of society to which she had been accustomed, or the intellectual intercourse which was one of her chief earthly pleasures. But, notwithstanding all this, she had a deep inward peace at the centre of her soul, which gave serenity to her accents and sweetness to her expression. "I feel," she would often say, "that my coming to the West was providential; and though I have endured many trials here, I would gladly have borne many more for the sake of the faith which I have here attained."
I never knew a person who walked more closely with