She nobly, not franticly, resents: refuses to see or to marry the wretch; who, repenting his usage of so divine a creature, would fain move her to forgive his baseness, and make him her husband: and this, though persecuted by all her friends, and abandoned to the deepest distress, being obliged, from ample fortunes, to make away with her apparel for subsistence; surrounded also by strangers, and forced (in want of others) to make a friend of the friend of her seducer.
Though longing for death, and making all proper preparations for it, convinced that grief and ill usage have broken her noble heart, she abhors the impious thought of shortening her allotted period; and, as much a stranger to revenge as despair, is able to forgive the author of her ruin; wishes his repentance, and that she may be the last victim to his barbarous perfidy: and is solicitous for nothing so much in this life, as to prevent vindictive mischief to and from the man who used her so basely.
This is penitence! This is piety! And hence distress naturally arises, that must worthily effect every heart.
Whatever the ill usage of this excellent woman is from her relations, she breaks not out into excesses: she strives, on the contrary, to find reason to justify them at her own expense; and seems more concerned for their cruelty to her for their sakes hereafter, when she shall be no more, than for her own: for, as to herself, she is sure, she says, God will forgive her, though no one on earth will.
On every extraordinary provocation she has recourse to the Scriptures, and endeavours to regulate her vehemence by sacred precedents. ’Better people, she says, have been more afflicted than she, grievous as she sometimes thinks her afflictions: and shall she not bear what less faulty persons have borne?’ On the very occasion I have mentioned, (some new instances of implacableness from her friends,) the enclosed meditation will show how mildly, and yet how forcibly, she complains. See if thou, in the wicked levity of thy heart, canst apply it to thy cause, as thou didst the other. If thou canst not, give way to thy conscience, and that will make the properest application.
How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words!
Be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.
To her that is afflicted, pity should be shown from her friend.
But she that is ready to slip with her feet, is as a lamp despised in the thought of them that are at ease.
There is a shame which bringeth sin, and there is a shame which bringeth glory and grace.
Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye, my friends! for the hand of God hath touched me.
If your soul were in my soul’s stead, I also could speak as ye do: I could heap up words against you—
But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief.