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parture of Mr. Merryman, my readers may wish to hear somewhat further of this excellent, and engaging man.
He was no sooner made a partaker of the grace that accomplished a change so glorious, than he set himself to work to communicate the knowledge of that salvation to others ; the effects of which he so well understood, from the happy result apon his own mind.
It immediately became his constant study, how all his parishioners might be the partakers of the like precious faith with himself. He not only set up Sunday schools, but established other little charitable institutions, for visiting the sick, and relieving the poor, whereby he saved many of them from the bad way of seeking aid by parochial relief, which has such a fatal tendency to degrade the mind, while by the same means, he engaged their affectionate attention to his kind admonitions, for their everlasting good.
Besides this, he was in the habit of going around his Parish, into every hamlet, and almost into every cottage, collecting the people of his charge, in small assemblies; and then with his Bible in his hand, and the love of God and of souls in his heart, he would aim at their instruction, in the most engaging style, and afterwards enforce it by such familiar conversation, as astonishingly won the affections of all, if not to God, yet to Mr. Merryman, as being too captivating in all his manners, for the most rugged, and untutored to resist.
On these occasions, he would diligently enquire if any neglected public worship on the sabbath, and what were their excuses for such a neglect. The like attention was paid to their children, whether they properly prized the opportunities provided for their gratuitous instruction ? and what they could say for themselves, in suffering their innocent offspring, to be so ill used by them, as to permit them to be absent from these useful schools ? As most people aim at an excuse for doing that which is wrong, it struck his active mind, that one common excuse, the want of proper apparel, might be obviated by the formation of a society, for this laudable purpose. The plan was no sooner proposed, than adopted. He convened his female friends together at Sandover, and formed them into a working society, for the benefit of the industrious poor, making it at the same time, a school of instruction for some of the poor female children, that they might learn the same useful art. Of this society Mr. Merryman became the president, while other decent, and benevolent characters, who had a little time, and property to spare, were happy to associate themselves together, that they might form a little manufactory, more immediately for the children of the industrious poor; while the benefit of the same institution was extended to the parents also. And while many benevolent friends, would be sending their kind presents of new bought materials for these purposes, from different shops, yet the principal design was of a humbler nature ; viz. to fabricate the cast off clothes of those who could consistently spare them, into smaller garments for the children's use.
In order to facilitate this kind design, the Reader will not be surprized, when he is informed that Mr. Merryman, with bis accustomed simplicity, and affability of mind, would request, even from the pulpit, too frequently made the mere oracle of priestly im. portance, that all such cast off garments might be sent to his house, as a present to the poor, and which would be thankfully received by him.
As designs of this kind, are soon put into circulation, through the good will of some, and the envy of others, no wonder that this was made a matter of triumph by Mr. Archdeacon Smoothtongue, and Mr. Spiteful, that the Rectory house at Sandover, was turned into a ragman's shop, and that Merryman had been crying from the pulpit, old clothes. But while the one had little more than the farce, and form of religion in his proud, and priestly appearance, without one doit of its divine realities; and while the other
from the mere ravings arising from the enmity of his heart, would be casting his envenomed reflections against this benevolent, and excellent youth, whose free, easy, and not less useful conduct, was such a reproof to those who have no cther design of living, but as they live to themselves ; their invidious sneers were justly deemed by others, as being beneath contempt. But it still remains with me to tell, how that in an unprotected hour, according to our dark conceptions, this interesting, and useful man, even in the faithful discharge of the duties of his office, was brought to an untimely grave.
In the former editions of these dialogues, this event was made known by a sort of circuitous information, which would not admit a detail of some circumstances, which, though painful, may still be profitable to the Reader's mind. It is best that he should have it as a family event, as thereby the narration is likely to be more correct, and much more interesting to those, who feel under such family calamities, as Christians should.
He was called to visit one of his parishioners, who was bighly iafected with a putrid fever, which, after a few days deprived him of his life. This poor man, greatly alarmed at his unprepared state, sent for Mr. Merryman. He seeing him in such deep distress, probably continued in the infected room, highly contaminated with putrid air, and also very close, longer than prudence might otherwise have suggested ; and further promised to repeat his visit on the following day, requesting that some of the neighbours might then attend in an adjoining cottage, that he might improve the event of the sudden seizure of this thoughtless sinner. He went, but found him so deTanged by the vehemence of the fever, as entirely to preclude him from deriving any advantage, from his beneficial advice, but alas ! he had scarcely finished his improving, and impressive exhortation, before he began to feel in himself, some strong symptoms of the same disease ; after his return home, he immedi
ately retired to his chamber, but the ragings of his fever, entirely deprived him from his rest, so that in the morning, very considerable alarm was excited, the feelings of Mrs. Merryman began to be acutely awakened, lest she should lose the best of husbands, after such an early, and happy union with each other ; while the inhabitants of Sandover, so bappy in such a Minister, were filled with general consternation, lest they should be deprived of one of the greatest blessings they could enjoy.
From such alarming symptoms, it was deemed necessary, to call in the best medical aid the neighbourhood could afford, Dr. Skillman, a Physician of the first eminence, was immediately sent for, and though he lived at a considerable distance from Sanuover, yet his patient received his first visit from him before the setting sun ; unwilling to alarm the feelings of the family at Brookfield Hall, by Dr. Skillman's advice, the message designed for them, was deferred until the effect of a powerful medicine, which was immediately administered, had been first proved.
This seemed to have had some favorable effect, the message was delayed for a few days longer, but the fever soon afterwards recovered its strength, while from several incoherent expressions, it appeared he was no longer collected, through the vehemence of the disease. It was now deemed necessary, that the family at Brookfield Hall, should be informed of this alarming event, without any further delay; and Dr. Skillman wishing to visit an old patient, residing at Mapleton, offered to be the messenger of these sad tidings, as being the best qualified to give the most correct report of his patient's disease, and also to consult what further steps it might be necessary to take, to save if possible the life of this invaluable young Minister. However the reader will soon discover, that whatever ability the Doctor possessed in his professional character, he was but ill instructed in in that celestial science, which had made Mr. Merryman so good a man. The Dactor accordingly took the journey, and having been introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Worthy, after the usual salutations, the dialogue thus commenced.
Dr. Skillman. [To Mr. Worthy.] Sir, I am sorry to be the messenger of such painful news respecting the health of your son-in-law, Mr. Merryman.
Mrs. Wor. Dear Sir, you quite alarm us; I hope he is not dangerously ill.
Dr. Skillm. Why Madam, I am sorry to inform you, that after having twice visited one of his parishioners in a putrid fever, he has caught the infection.
Mr. Wor. But I hope Sir, the symptoms at present are not dangerous.
Dr. Skillm. Not to flatter you Sir, I must confess that some of the symptoms have considerably alarmed us.
Mrs. Wor. I have not a child of my own, that I can love better than bim, he is the best of husbands, and the abest of men. O what my poor daughter must feel! especially, just after her lying in. How will she support it? we must go directly and see them.
Dr. Skillm. I would not wish Madam that you should determine upon that too hastily, I am sorry to say, that the fever has greatly injured his recollection, and the less he has to agitate his mind, the better we can grapple with the disease.
Mrs. Wor. What Sir, is he so bad, as that none of us can be permitted to see him ?
Dr. Skillm. Certainly it is most advisable that bis mind should be kept as still, and quiet as possible. I have frequently found it needful, to request Mrs. Merryman, to retire out of the room. He seeing her so deeply distressed, that it greatly agitates hin feelings.
Mrs. Wor. Oh Sir! and is there not great reason to fear, lest my daughter should catch the infection?