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TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN
I am too well informed of the difficulties of editorship, in such a work as yours, to express surprise that you should have admitted such an article as the Memoir of Annie. I know how much the soundest judgment will be sometimes at fault, amid the variety of contributions that pour in, perhaps in the last hurry of compilation, and under names that justly carry weight. The discriminating good sense which usually characterizes your own writings, separating what is real from what is factitious in religion, assures me that you could not, on consideration, approve of such a statement. The fact that the article is without a signature, removes the fear of giving personal offence; that it is owned by nobody lessens my embarrassment in condemning it ; and I am not speaking my own sentiments only, but those of all with whom I have conversed on the subject, when I venture to express the greatest regret that it should be found in your pages.
If what is stated of Annie at eight months old were true, which nobody ought to believe on the testimony of another, it was a miracle, because it is in nature physically impossible. If I might jest with you on so grave a subject, I should ask if you
REMARKS ON THE
MEMOIR OF ANNIE.” 403 do not feel alarmed at this symptom of the Romish miasma, the diffusion of which you so much apprehend, that it is thus beginning to infect our pious story tellers. That an infant of eight months should know the nature of prayer, though she might have been taught its attitude; or the contents of a Bible, though it is just possible she might have been taught to put her hands together at the sight of some particular book, or even be quieted by it, if it had been used as a plaything for that purpose ; implies a miraculous inspiration, since the knowledge could not have been communicated through the medium of her rational faculties. The remaining particulars require neither miraculous nor gracious influences—they are perfectly accountable in a child of a naturally sweet temperament, with perceptions prematurely developed perhaps, from the nature of her disease, and certainly prematurely exercised by the not always judicious treatment of those about her. Are we to attribute it to divine inspiration, or to the discretion of her nurses, that an infant under three years of age knew the nature of drunkenness and recognised its effects? And surely every mother knows, that had it been any other article on the breakfast-table instead of the Bible, to which the child's attention was daily called, which she was made to notice, and taught to consider an object of interest and pleasure, she would have missed it, and asked for it the first time it was not there.
Such, madam, is my well-considered opinion of the facts narrated in this story. Of the inferences drawn from them, and the reflections made by the narrator, I cannot give my opinion without infringing the principle I advocate, of not provoking disputation by remarking upon the expressed sentiments of others. Without further allusion, therefore, to the remarks of your correspondent, I shall confine myself to the expression of my own opinion. It is a subject of touching interest to parental love. Would I take from Annie's parents, the blessed assurance of their child's felicity ? No; but I would put it upon a safer ground-a ground that would make them as sure for Annie's twin-sister, who never saw the light, as for this engaging object of their prolonged concern. It is a subject too, of consequence : at a time like the present, every thing is of consequence; and never was it so necessary for those who have the honour of Christ's religion at heart, to take heed what they say. On the one side we have to meet the bold eye of incredulity, no longer dazzled with names, or dimmed by prejudice, or withheld by deference for God or man, from exposing whatever is factitious and unreal in any thing; truth must now be presented pure, for it will be examined naked. On another side, there is a too manifest desire to bring fiction to the belp of truth ; to bring signs and wonders once more on the field, and walk again by sight instead of faith: to encumber the doctrines of the cross with human additions, and the witness of the Spirit with evidences of man's devising. This is no time to amuse ourselves, or hope to instruct each other, with vain babblings and old wives’ fables, any more than with science, falsely so called. It is time rather to clear the deck for battle, and move every thing away that is not essential to the maintenance of the truth.
We have every reason to believe, and to the extent of my knowledge of men's minds, every Christian does believe that children dying in infancy, before the age of moral responsibility, are saved in Christ. The taint of original sin, derived from the first Adam, being removed by the atonement of the second Adam, and a robe of righteousness wrought for them, of his merits, no actual sin committed, or offer of grace refused, we consider it impossible that one of these little ones should perish. It is true we do not know, and it is better that we should not, at what age actual guilt is contracted, or belief in Christ becomes necessary to a participation in his merits; but we are sure it cannot be till the mental faculties are considerably developed. In human legislation it has been necessary to fix an age at which children shall become amenable to the laws; we may be sure the period of spiritual responsibility is to the divine mind as definite, although we know it not. We need not know it. The parent who must not lose a moment in endeavouring to bring the child to a knowledge of God, and instruction in all righteousness, lest it should survive the time at which it will become accountable, if that cbild dies in infancy, ought to be satisfied of its salvation, simply on the ground of Christ's atonement, not on any fancied or fallacious evidences. We know how many a soul has groped in darkness through all its life below, in search of evidences for what ought to have been believed on the plain word of God, preferring a doubtful sign to a most sure promise. I do not believe there are any evidences of grace at the early age referred to in this memoir. If there are, they are of no value, because they are superfluous-the very fact of their rarity, when we believe all infants to be saved, establishes their superfluity. Annie's parents ought to have
been as well assured of the salvation of the one twin as of the other; and I should rather think they were. But even if it should be so, that God will sometimes grant to the weak faith of the parents what they accept as a token of the child's salvation, which considering his great tenderness I cannot say He may pot, those parents should be cautious how they call such a token by a wrong name, or exhibit it as a thing of importance to any but themselves : I could receive it as an evidence of nothing but God's indulgent pity towards the weakest desires of his people. . I have no doubt of the influence the mother's state of mind may have upon the future dispositions of her unborn child; and of the still greater efficacy of her prayers for its regeneration; and I see no reason for rejecting your correspondent's suggestion, that the former may be made the natural means of conveying tbe gracious influence granted to the latter. We learn from scripture, confirmed by observation, that some children are set apart for God from the mother's womb, or enter very early on their regenerate state. But the Scriptures give us no warrant for expecting in infancy what are called evidences of sanctification. I cannot find that any thing of the sort is promised ; and I am sure that nothing of the sort is related ; which might, I think, induce those who believe they see them, to “lay up all these things in their heart.” In the prominent instances of Samuel, of Sampson, and John the Baptist, it is the parent's faith, devotedness, and sanctity, that are exhibited, not the child's—and in this lies all the value of the example, the blessing that attended them is beneficently declared, to the great encouragement of every pious parent, but we hear of no