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TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN
MADAM, I feel a desire, mingled with a reluctance, to say a a few words in mediation between the two parties in the dispute touching the • Memoir of Annie. My reluctance is a very natural one. Recognizing in the well-known style of both writers, two individuals with whom, as shining lights in the Christian world, it would be absurd for me to compare myself, I naturally shrink from venturing on even an approach to criticism or reproof with respect to either.
Yet so it is that these two persons, each of them holding the rank of a teacher and counsellor in the church, do differ, and that widely. It is therefore just as natural, on the other hand, that I should be desirous, if the way seems open, to point a middle path, in which they may meet and walk together in amity and agreement.
And to begin with the original cause of difference -the memoir itself: Its chief fault seemed to me,and it is the fault which has principally given rise to the animadversions of G. E. M.-that the writer seems to attempt to do that which is impossible,to transmit not only the fruit but the bloom also ; not only the plant, but with it the sparkling drops of dew which hang on its leaves.
There are divers little traits of character in every individual, whose character is worth studying, which may be conveyed in the quiet, under-toned, confidential conversation, but which cannot be transfused into other minds through the medium of the press. They look strange and incredible in print. Such I must oonsider the horror, having a moral meaning in it, which Annie is said to have shown at the sight of a person in a state of intoxication, and such, especially, the idea that her emphatic pronunciation of the word
man’ was meant to convey a sense of his fallen condition. These and two or three other little things, I can partly believe for myself, and at the same time lament that they were inserted in a narrative ad. dressed to the public at large.
On the other hand, I do, with all my soul, regret and feel grieved at the sort of incredulity expressed by G. E. M.. This writer's observations, it appears to me, would tend to keep the Christian world in its present low and feeble condition, without a hope or a wish for a better state of things.
I remember to have heard Mr. Legh Richmond, again and again, make a statement with regard to Little Jane, which may be worth the consideration of both these writers. It was to the effect,—that he had no doubt or hesitation whatever in saying, both from her case and from the experience of others, that the power of the Holy Spirit was distinctly visible in young children, in bringing forward their faculties in a way which otherwise would be called premature; and that he could have given many instances of this, but judged it wiser and better not to do so.
Perhaps the author of the account of Little Annie' may be inclined to condemn him for this suppression. But she will remember that there is high authority for revealing truths as the disciples “ may be able to bear them;" and she should look, on the one band, at the vast circulation of, and the good done by, the Young Cottager, and on the other at the diminution of both which must have followed, from the insertion of circumstances the mention of which even Christians like G. E. M. would not have tolerated, - much less received witb credence.
To the latter I would only beg to propose, for her own consideration, the question, whether she would attempt to lay down laws for the operations of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of infants ; or whether, confessing herself incompetent to such a task, it is right or decorous to assert with positiveness, that this or that, in such a matter, cannot be?
I remain, Madam,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN
MADAM, I am but an insignificant person, yet privileged in being permitted to take in your Magazine, in recommending it to numbers, and in having been made instrumental in its being regularly read by many. I am sorry to be so egotistical, but from all this you will conclude that I feel much interested in the circulation of your valuable work, both as regards its success, and the good its perusal may be the means of effecting; and consequently that I am an attentive listener to the comments made upon this favourite publication, and ready to stand up in its defence, when I hear it spoken of disrespectfully. However, being but a poor hand at an argument, the bright idea suddenly occurred to me of submitting to your notice some of the remarks which I have heard made on different occasions. Amongst others, in two instances, the propriety of your title has been called in question-in one opinion, because it assumes too much for itself; in another, because such a work, lying on the table, virtually declares that the individual who placed it there is presumptuous enough to consider herself to be a Christian Lady, &c.
Now, madam, you would render an essential service to the cause of truth, if, in your own clear and
decided language you would show, how impossible it is to stand upon the narrow line which divides the children of God from the world—that there can be no neutrality here ; we are all on one side of this line or on the other-and that it is vain to imagine we can draw those of the world over, by the expedient of concealing our real character, and going to meet them--or loosening our cords of separation, with the fallacious hope of catching those who object to that high standard unto which it should ever be our aim to press forward.