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cherished and laid up in the heart. Am I pursuing the true object of life? Am I following after real happiness ? What is the object of my present labour ? Is it merely that I may obtain the praise of men? That my name may be inscribed amongst those, who have gained the highest honours ? Or is there not an object far beyond this ? Ought I not to be gaining those stores of knowledge, fixing those principles, and acquiring those habits, which shall fit me to perform my duty to God and man? If I do not acquire them now, when am I likely to do so ? Should I not be laying myself out for a life of usefulness? And might I not enjoy, even in this world, a foretaste of that happiness which consists in communion with God; and which can be perfected only in a purer and more spiritual state?
These and similar questions, arising from the subject of his recent studies, presented themselves to the mind of Ridley, and the answers which his conscience gave to them were not calculated to remove his anxiety. In truth, he was in a dubious and unsettled state of mind : serious thoughts had been awakened, but not satisfied. His heart was open to divine impressions, but such impressions had not yet been made. The frame of his feelings will be best understood, if we take a brief survey of his previous history.
Arthur Ridley was the second son of Sir William Ridley, a baronet of considerable fortune, whose character might be summed up in very few words, when we say, that he was a perfect specimen of an English gentleman. And, in using this expression, it is meant that Sir William-indeed both of Arthur's parents, (for we must include his excellent mother in the same eulogy) not only possessed the advantages of birth and fortune, not only were well-educated and refined, but what is of infinitely more value, were conscientious and religious; they ruled their household in the fear of God; instructed their children in the knowledge of Scripture, and nurtured them in the bosom of the Holy Church. Arthur Ridley was trained from the very dawning of reason, in the habitual impression that there is a God,-a mighty unseen Spirit, a merciful and loving Father, above, around, about him; and that obedience to His laws was to be the basis of his conduct. He was taught to love truth and justice; to be scrupulously honourable and upright in word and deed, charitable, liberal, open-hearted, and open-handed; to live for others as well as for himself. In short, he learned “ to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God.” I will not say that the religious opinions in which Arthur's childhood was trained, were such as are usually designated “clear views ;” certainly they were not in strict accordance with modern notions. Nay, I will not deny that they were deficient in point of doctrine. Arthur was taught to believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who redeemed him and all mankind, and to be careful “ to maintain good works," for that these were acceptable to God, and according to them he would be judged at the last day; but whether good works were accessary, or not accessary but conditional, or whether they were necessary only, and neither accessary nor conditional, was not precisely told him. Neither perhaps could he, nor indeed his parents, define exactly the line which separates justification and sanctification, or the amount of spiritual benefit conveyed by the sacrament of baptism. But if Arthur's parents could not instruct him in the nicer shades of doctrinal religion, they taught him to feel his natural sinfulness and weakness, to pray for the aid of the Holy Spirit, and to control his will and exercise self-denial for the sake of Jesus Christ; and they inculcated also one principle, in which the more acute discerners of scriptural doctrine are too often deficient,-a humble and reverential deference to the authority and instruction of the Church.
Reverence for the Church, as the guide to truth, and the holy bond of Christian communion, was amongst the most deeply rooted feelings of his childhood.
Such, indeed, may be taken as a general description of the religion of the more pious amongst our parents. Doubtless they might have attained greater precision in point of doctrine, and all deficiency in doctrine may run out into grievous errors in practice. But where is the human system that is not defective? The true faith is contained in the Bible, and is taught and illustrated by the Church. But will any individual Christian, or will any class or school of Christian writers, suppose that they have grasped the entire system of revealed truth, or exactly hit upon the right mean between extreme errors. It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to avoid one error without verging towards the opposite ; or to insist zealously on one point, or on one class of doctrines, without unconsciously disparaging others. The lax notions of the last generation
have given way to an excess of doctrinal precision, which can be amended only by an appeal to Scripture as interpreted by the universal Church.
At the age of twelve Arthur Ridley bad the misfortune to lose his excellent father, who had hitherto been his principal instructor, and soon afterwards, by the advice of his guardians, he was sent to a public school. It was well for him that his religious principles had been early planted and become firmly rooted, for they were exposed to many a severe shock, or rather to a continual succession of shocks, which none but the child of religious parents would have been enabled to withstand. As it was, they were sadly blighted. Arthur, during his schoolboy days, increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with man; but he began to forget God. High-spirited, generous, amiable, gifted with superior talent, he increased rapidly in every manly excellence of mind and body; but an habitual coldness to religion began to settle on his heart: instead of the fear and love of God, a false standard of honour became the principle of his conduct. He was filled with a noble emulation and desire to excel, and he attained the praise of his teachers and the good