Imatges de pÓgina

nothing, but he himself did not at the bottom believe it; and it was observed of all the soldiers who failed, the true cause was that they did not really believe the king's promise. He was surprised to see that those soldiers, who used to bluster, and boast, and deride the assaults of the enemy, now began to fall away; while such as had faithfully obeyed the king's orders, and believed in his word were sustained in the hour of trial. Those who had trusted in their own strength all fainted on the slightest attack, while those who had put on the armour of the king's providing, the sword, and the shield, and the helmet, and the breast-plate, and whose feet were shod according to order, now endured hardship as good soldiers, and were enabled to fight the good fight.

An engagement was expected immediately. The men were ordered to prepare for battle. While the rest of the corps were so preparing, William's whole thoughts were bent on contriving how he might desert. But alas! he was watched on all sides, he could not possibly devise any means to escape. The danger increased every moment, the battle came on. William, who had been so sure and confident before he entered, flinched in the moment of trial, while his more quiet and less boastful comrades prepared boldly to do their duty. William looked about on all sides, and saw that there was no eye upon him, for he did not know that the king's eye was every where at once. He at last thought he spied a chance of escaping, not from the enemy, but from his own army. While he was endeavouring to escape, a ball from the opposite camp took off his leg. As he fell, the first words which broke from him were, while I was in my duty I was preserved ; in the very act of de. serting I am wounded. He lay expecting every moment to be trampled to death, but as soon as the confusion was a little over, he was taken off the field by some of his own party, laid in a place of safety, and left to himself, after bis wound was dressed.


The skirmish, for it proved nothing more, was soon over. The greater part of the regiment escaped in safety. William in the mean time suffered cruelly both in mind any body. To the pains of a wounded soldier, he added the disgrace of a coward, and the infamy of a deserter. (), cried he, why was I such a fool as to leave the great family I lived in, where there was meat and drink enough and to spare, only on account of a little quarrel ? I might have made up that with them as we had done our former quarrels. Why did I leave a life of ease and pleasure, where I had only a little rub now and then, for a life of daily discipline and constant danger? Why did I turn soldier? 0, what a miserable animal is a soldier !

As he was sitting in this weak and disabled condition, uttering the above complaints, he observed a venerable old officer, with thin grey locks on his head, and on his face deep wrinkles engraved by time, and many an honest scar inflicted by war.

William had heard this old officer highly commended for his extraordinary courage aad conduct in battle, and in peace he used to see him cool and collected, devoutly employed in reading and praying in the interval of more active duties. He could not help comparing this officer with himself. I, said he, flinched and drew back, and would even have deserted in the moment of peril, and now in return, I have no consolation in the hour of repose and safety. I would not fight then, I cannot pray now. O why would I ever think of being a soldier: He then began afresh to weep and lament, and he groaned so loud that he drew the notice of the officer, who came up to him, kindly sat down by him, took him by the hand, and inquired with as much affection as if he had been his brother, what was the matter with him, and what particular distress, more than the common fortune of war it was which drew from him such bitter groans? “I know something of surgery,” added he,


66 let me examine your “ wound and assist you with such little comforts as

" I can."

William at once saw the difference between the soldiers in the king's army and the people in the great family ; the latter commonly withdrew their kindness in sickness and trouble, when most wanted, which was just the very time when the others came forward to assist. He told the officer his little history, the manner of his living in the great family, the trifling cause of his quarrelling with it, the slight ground of his entering into the king's service. “Sir,” said he, “ I quarrelled with the family, and I thought I was 6 at once fit for the army : I did not know the qua“ lifications it required. I had not reckoned on dis

cipline, and hardships, and self-denial. I liked

well enough to sing a loyal song, or drink the king's health, but I find I do not relish working and fight“ ing for him, though I rashly promised even to lay “ down my life for his service if called upon, when “ I took the bounty money and the oath of allegi

In short, sir, I find that I long for the ease « and sloth, the merriment and the feasting of my “ old service; I find I cannot be a soldier, and, to “ speak truth, I was in the very act of deserting “ when I was stopped short by the cannon ball. So “ that I feel the guilt of desertion, and the misery of “ having lost my leg into the bargain."

The officer thus replied ; “ your state is that of every worldly, irreligious man.

The great family you served is a just picture of the world. The “ wages the world promises to those who are willing " to do its work are high, but the payment is attend1 ed with much disappointment ; nay, the world, " like your great family, is in itself insolvent, and


" in its very nature incapable of making good the

promises, and of paying the high rewards, which “ it holds out to tempt its credulous followers. The

ungodly world, like your family, cares little for “ church, and still less for prayer; and considers the 66 Bible rather as an instrument to make an oath

binding, in order to keep the vulgar in obedience, “ than as containing in itself a perfect rule of faith “ and practice, and as a title-deed to heaven. The “ generality of men love the world as you did your

service, while it smiles upon them, and gives them easy work, and plenty of meat and drink ; but as

soon as it begins to cross and contradict them, “ they get out of humour with it, just as you did “ with your service. They then think its drudgery “ hard, its rewards low. They find out that it is “ high in its expectations from them, and slack in “ its payments to them. And they begin to fancy “ (because they do not hear religious people murmur

as they do) that there must be some happiness in “ religion. The world, which takes no account of “ their deeper sins, at length brings them into dis“ credit for some act of imprudence, just as your fa

mily overlooked your lying and swearing, but " threatened to drub you for breaking a china dish. Such is the judgment of the world ! it particularly " bears with those who only break the laws of God, “ but severely punishes the smallest negligence by “ which they themselves are injured. The world “ sooner pardons the breaking ten commandments 66 of God than even a china dish of its own.

6. After some cross or opposition, worldly men, as " I said before, begin to think how much content " and cheerfulness they remember to have seen in " religious people. They therefore begin to fancy " that religion must be an easy and delightful, as 5 well as a good thing. They have heard that,

66 her

her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths

are peace; and they persuade themselves, that by " this is meant worldly pleasantness, and sensual “ peace. They resolve at length to try it, to turn “ their back upon the world, to engage in the service “ of God and turn Christians ; just as you resolved to leave


old service, to enter into the service ' “ of the king and turn soldier. But as you quitted your place in a passion, so they leave the world in

a huff. They do not count the cost. They do “ not calculate upon the darling sins, the babitual “ pleasures, the ease and vanities which they underu take by their new engagements to renounce, any

more than you counted what indulgences you were “ going to give up when you quitted the luxuries " and idleness of your place to enlist in the soldier's “ warfare. They have, as I said, seen Christians “ cheerful, and they mistook the ground of their " cheerfulness; they fancied it arose, not because, through grace they had conquered difficulties, but " because they had no difficulties in their passage, “ They fancied that religion found the road smooth, “ whereas it only helps to bear with a rough road “ without complaint. They do not know that these “ Christians are of good cheer, not because the world “ is free from tribulation, but because Christ their “ captain has overcome the world. But the irreligi

who has only seen the outside of a Chris" ttan in his worldly intercourse, knows little of his

secret conflicts, his trials, his self-denials, his war“ fare with the world without, and with his own

corrupt desires within. “ The irreligious man quarrels with the world on

some such occasion as you did with your place.--“ He now puts on the outward forms and ceremo“ nies of religion, and assumes the badge of Christianity, just as you were struck with the shows of

a field

ous man,

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