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abode still very vile and debauched in life, being a greate drinker, gamester, swearer, &c. But in his gaming so it was, that he usually came off by the losse, which would sometimes pnt him into some dumpish and discontented fitts, and resolutions to leave off yt practise : but these resolutions were but like the chaines on the man, mentioned in the gospel, which could not hold when the fit to be vile was upon him, wherefore he went on and broke them still.
“ But one night having lost, as I take it, about 15li. (£15.) it put him into a rage, and he thought many desperate thoughts against God, but whilst he was looking into one of Mr Bolton's bookes,* something therein took hold upon him, and brought him into a great sense of sin, wherein he continued for the space of a month or above; but at last, God did so plentifully discover to him by his Word the forgiveness of his sins for the sake of Christ, that (as he has by severall of the brethren been heard to say) all his life after, which was about the space of five years, he lost not the light of God's countenance, no not for an hour, save only about two dayes before he dyed.
“But when it had pleased God thus to awaken this man, he sought forthwith to get acquaintance with those godly persons that are above mentioned ; t but they could not at first believe that he was a disciple : yet he would enquire after their meetings, and being naturally bold, would thrust himself again and again into their company, both together and apart : yet they
• According to Philip, it was the following passage which proved savingly useful to Gifford:
“In the invitation of Christ to all that labor and are heavy laden to come to him for rest to their souls, there is no exception of sins, times, nor places. And if thou shouldst reply, Yea, but alas ! I am the unworthiest man in the world to draw near unto so holy a God—to press into so pure a presence-to expect upon the sudden, such glorious, spiritual, and heavenly advancement, most impure, abominable, and beastly wretch, that I am, readier far to sink into the bottom of hell by the insupportable weight of my manifest heinous sins!' I say then the text tells thee plainly, that thou mightily mistakest : for therefore only art thou fit, because thou feelest so sensibly thy unfitness, unwor wretchedness. The sorer and heavier thy burden is, the rather thou should'st come It is such as thou whom Christ here specially aims at, invites, and accepts.”—Bolton.
† These were the worthy fathers of the church at Bedford, “all ancient and grave Christians,” amongst whom brother Harrington, hereafter referred to in the narrative, is specially named.
had jealousies about him, for he had indeed been a very vile man, and had also in the towne attempted in a very rude manner to do severall actions that bespoke great extravagancy of minde and wildenes of heart. Besides, as himself did often say, he often had thoughtes to kill bro: Harrington meerly from that great antipathy that was in his heart against the people of God, and the holynes of the gospell.
“But so it was, that in little tyme he was much in his heart put upon it to preach, but yet would not, without he advised first with the godly ; but they being at a stand in the case, he first offered his gift before them, and afterwards in an open way before the world : whose word God so blessed that even at the first he was made through grace a father to some through the gospell--for instance, sister Cooper, a woman whose memory is yet precious among us, was converted by the first sermon he preached in publicke.*
“Now, having continued preaching awhile, and receiving some light into the Congregationall way after some acquaintance also with other ministers, he attempted to gather into gospell fellowship the saintes and brethren in and aboutt the towne: but the more ancient professors being used to live, as some other good men of those times, without regard to such separate and close communion, were not at first so ready to fall into that godly order. Wherefore many dayes were by him and them set apart for prayer, to seek of God light and counsaile therein; they also conferred with members of other societyes, and at last by the mercy and goodness of God they began to come to some blessed resolution therein."
Mr. Gifford died on the 21st September, 1655 ; and the following year Bunyan began to preach, though he was not ordained over the congregation until 1671.
THE LIVING RILL. Whilst some delight in pursuing the progress of science and the so-called improvements of the human intellect from age to age, and whilst others devote all their energies, and have given
* But does not appear to have joined the church until “the 28th of the hird moneth,” (May) 1656, some time after Gifford's death.
up their lives in their attempts to trace mighty rivers to their sources, or investigate the boundaries of still mightier seas, a sweeter and safer object of pursuit has offered itself to the compiler of the following sheets, which, though it may not interest the learned and the wise of this world, cannot surely fail of pleasing such as delight in the hidden things of their God.
This object is to pursue, ihroughout the greater part of a century, one little rillet of the waters of life, amid the millions of others which are continually springing forth from the wells of salvation, and circulating through every clime and region of this lower earth ; not only supplying solace and vigour to every pilgrim travelling Zionwards, and creating life where none before existed, but even tending in this present scene, to the improvement of the condition of those who know nothing of the source whence they proceed, and are not aware that the flowers and fruit with which they adorn their houses and dress their tables, owe their beauty, their fragrance, and their sweetness, to the celestial rills which bathe their roots.
It is for the especial consolation of those many humble Christians, who see not such fruits of their pious labors as they desire, that this subject has been chosen, that they may understand and know that no channel of truth, which the Father of mercy has opened in the wilderness of this world, ever ceases to flow, though it may sometimes be wholly hidden from the sight of man, or may pass away beyond his limited apprehension. We should ever be convinced that the promise of God stands sure, and that no weakness, nor folly, nor want of faith in ourselves, can ever induce him to do less than he has said ; for is it not written : “ As the rain cometh down, and the snow, from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth : it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Our narrative goes back somewhat more than a hundred years from the present day; at which time, whoever traced a certain portion of that wild mountain stream which rises in Plinlimmon, and disgorges itself into the Severn below Worcester, could not fail to observe a very ancient house with three gables quaintly crowned with carvings in wood, and many a huge chimney, perched on a high irregular bank, and peeping, with its various grotesque windows, through the trees which grow thickly and darkly close up to its walls. This mansion was at such small distance from one of the many weirs of the wayward stream, that the rush of the wild waters was oftentimes distinctly heard in its closest chambers; and its white foam glancing through the trees afforded one of the fairest features in the landscape, seen from the upper windows of the house. This old hall, with many a fair upland copse and meadow about it, was in the possession, when our history commences, of an old gentleman, a bachelor; and if not more a humourist by nature than many others of his fellow men, at least has so by long indulgence of his own peculiar tastes, which all disposed him to country sports, to hunting, fishing, riding, shooting, and boating. He prided himself in never having travelled farther than the stream on whose banks he had first seen the day, and would have as soon encountered a voyage to the antipodes as a journey to London ; and many such there were a hundred years ago.
His name was Craddock, and he pretended to boast of his descent from one whose somewhat similar name Caractacus, is well known in history; and he who presumed to touch him on that point, incurred the risk of being more rudely dealt by than, may be, he was prepared for
This squire of olden times was, nevertheless, not deficient in several naturally amiable qualities, for he was a liberal friend, an indulgent master, and a kind landlord. He was hospitable, too, to a great degree ; but as his choice of companions was anything but good, his open house and plentiful table added but little to the well-being of his guests.
He had never thought of marrying, but had shown much kindness in his rough way, by adopting the orphan daughter of a younger brother, who met with an honorable death, as an officer, in the disastrous affair of forty-five. The Squire had sent for his niece immediately on hearing the sad tidings, she still being so young as to require a nurse, and had, when she was thought of competent age, sent her, as he said, to “be bitted and to learn her paces,” to a boarding school at Ludlow, hoping to
terminate his anxieties respecting her, by bestowing her in marriage as soon as was convenient after she had left school, on a young gentleman of the name of Langford, whom he had had a long time in his eye as a proper husband for his niece.
But although it has been necessary to give the foregoing par. ticulars respecting the uncle, it is with the young lady that the interest of the narrative properly commences.
Mrs. Langford had only been married long enough to have had two children, when her husband was killed by an accident in the chace. She had attempted to nurse her first-born son, but the infant had died before he was weaned, in consequence of which, when the second son was born a short time before the father's death, a healthy young married woman was hired to nurse him, and for this purpose came to live in the house, her own child and husband being transferred to a cottage on the Craddock estate, occupied by her parents.
These things were arranged shortly before Mr. Langford's sudden demise, when it was found that the widow had little to depend upon from her deceased husband. Mr. Craddock, therefore, fetched his niece, her child, and nurse, to the Court, appointed her the apartments in it best suited for a lady—the room in which there were the highest piles of old china--and gave her full command of all his servants, and of his coach and four, which he never entered but when he attended assizes or meetings. Then, emptying his purse into her lap, he kissed her heartily, patted her on the back, and bade her “ be happy and do as she liked ; " leaving her without a doubt in his own mind that she would soon find the means of making his two last injunctions agree with each other; the hearty old gentleman never suspecting the impossibility of such a thing, though no mourner could in fact ever make himself happy by endeavoring only to please himself, or, in other words, to “ do what he liked.”
Mrs. Langford was the daughter of a high-born and delicate mother: she had been deprived of this parent in very tender years, by consumption, and her own constitution had not been improved by the sort of training then practised in boardingschools. It is believed that the first boarding-schools for young ladies in England, were instituted, as history tells us, in or about the time of William and Mary; and in the middle of the last