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BIOGRAPHY, in all its various kinds, is the most captivating species of reading to the human mind-do but adapt the subject to the reader, and its entertainment becomes delightful, and its influence irresistible.
The secret cause of this lies deep in the heart of man-every one has some subject that he admires some aim that he stretches after.-The life of the man who possesses in any eminent degree his revered idol, becomes to him as a precious mine, -wherein his treasure lies hid-and he searches therein with diligence, to discover by what method it was attained, and by what power secured, that he also may become partaker of his happiness, and possessor of this favourite object.
With what avidity do the young, and the thoughtless seek after novels--the amorous
and and flighty after tales and romances—the warrior after the lives of the Cæsar's and Alexander's
the student after Newton's and Plato's—and the Christian after Saints and Holy Souls.
These demonstrate their aim by their pursuit, and give the strongest evidence of the bent of their hearts, by that reading which affords them the most entertainment and delight. A vitiated and sickly appetite can as soon relish plain and wholesome food, as a corrupted heart Pious Lives and Divine Writings.
Here then we plainly perceive the dangerous and deadly tendency of all Works of Fancy, and flighty genius.--Not to speak at all of that filthy tribe of lewd, profane, and unprofitable Stuff, that is the detestation of every man of sense, and every woman of virtue.—But those more approved Works, wherein humanity is displayed-Sentiments are sweetly refined, and even virtue itself comes forth to claim your respect and applause.—Here—too, too often—if not ever, the deluding or deluded writer, offers to your view a mixed and totally inconsistent Character, a jumble of unnatural and incompatible qualities, and sets them up as a standard of Virtue and imitation, a touchstone of truth; while the poor deceived reader-finding in himself some of the sweet and amiable natural softness, and generous disposition of
the hero he admires, imagines himself necessarily possessed of all the piety and virtue, which the author had ascribed so liberally to his patched up character,-and thus lulls himself asleep in the delusion of death.
The sacred Scriptures, indeed, give us, above all other writings, faithful and just characters of men—where, if we read of a Saint's turning Sinner, we read also of the just judgment of God upon his crimes, and the bitterness of his repentance.
The lives of pious persons, wrote by themselves, compiled from their own papers, or related by some faithful friend, who gives us mostly their own words, and carefully collects their important sentences—these are the precious Books—the blessed treasures of inestimable worth.—Here we have not only true precept but animating example—and the Soul that thirsts after grace and salvation, has the whole process and progress, by which her fellow-traveller encountered all difficulties, escaped all dangers, and overcame all obstacles that poor pilgrims meet with in their journey to life.
God assures us, that he is no respecter of persons—but in every Nation, he that fears him, and works righteousness, shall be accepted of him.--Let this divine sentence be our rule and guide, so shall we not greatly err.For those whom God bears with and accepts,
let us not dare to judge and reject--What! poor wretched mortals as we are; shall we presume to limit and restrain that
mercy, that is over all his works? or how far he shall shower out his graces and gifts upon the creatures of his Workmanship, and the redeemed of his Blood ?-Shall we utterly despise and cast away all the experience and leadings of a chosen Vesselbecause the product of a French soil and foreign clime -Shall we not rather glory, that lillies grow among thorns, and that the true Son of Righteousness can call up and nourish a precious Flower, amidst the weeds of a Wilderness, and the brambles of a Desert.-—What, because she was born in a Romish Country, and bred a Papist, shall we exclude her from a place among the great multitude, which no man can number, of all Nations and Kindreds and people and tongues, which stand before the Throne and before the LAMB. (Rev. vii. 9.)
The principal advantages in the usefulness of this lady's life, above most others are—First, that the whole is recent; many, even middle aged persons, may yet remem
the noise her persecutions made through Europe. She was not secluded in a Convent -hid in a Cell-or buried in the DesertBut lived in communion and friendship with her fellow-creatures, without affecting any thing singular or extraordinary.--She had the disadvantages of title and rank, beauty