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ETAT. 21 APPRECIATION OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS. 129
experience, he writes to them on May 13th: : "I received the messages you sent. I fear you are too anxious about At present I am more comfortable here than I could be with you. You have no society at Catterton, and that is absolutely needful for me. I generally spend my evenings out; and in a small circle of friends, the greater part of whom I believe to be Christians, and the rest inclined, I experience perhaps as much enjoyment as this world can afford. Your habits and manner of life will prevent you from estimating the importance of this, and its relation to my health and happiness.
"I hope you will not make yourselves unhappy about me. Why should you? for I am very happy. I have, it is true, dark moments, but they bear no proportion to the rich enjoyments God has poured into my cup. As to my future lot, it is at His disposal who knows what is best for me, and who, I am persuaded, regards me with designs of mercy. I deem it my duty to use every practicable means for my recovery, and I calmly leave the result with Him. My views of the Divine character have lately become much more clear and affecting. The plan of redemption appears daily more wonderful and glorious, and sometimes I have felt so elevated above this fleeting world, that I scarcely felt myself an inhabitant of it. Is not my condition much better than if I had aimed at acquiring this world's good, and succeeded even beyond the most sanguine expectations I once entertained, but been destitute of religion? Then you might have cause for sorrow, now you have none. Whatever God does will be best, best for both you and me, and surely you do not wish to alter that which is best!"
22. "Am not right this morning. My views of spiritual things are confused, and my mind is unhinged. My desires for spiritual blessings are feeble. This may be partly attributable to physical causes, but not solely. These things
however must not alter my resolve to wait upon God. Endeavour to keep the mind in the proper attitude, and it will not be long before a change takes place."
"I saw a great deal in London that pleased and interested me," he wrote to me after his return, June 2nd, “but of all places I think I should most dislike to live there. Time might alter my sentiments perhaps, but certainly I have loved the country much more since I left the busy scenes of the metropolis. My stay however was so short that I am scarcely entitled to form an opinion on the subject.
"I saw Dr. Ramidge and learnt that my apprehensions were correct. There is a tuberculous cavity in each lung, which, if some remedy be not applied, must terminate fatally, he says. He has put me on a course of inhalation which has already produced powerful effects. He has forbidden me to preach.
"The stream of life flows on gently. I have much enjoyment, and but little annoyance. Through the Divine blessing on the means employed I have got my mind well disciplined. Intellectual and moral excellence I now see are not of mushroom growth-they are the slow production of years. If I am destined for active life, God has shown me the necessity of preparation for it. I can wait. My acquiescence in His plans is complete. I know you will rejoice at this, and most sincerely do I thank you for your sympathy both in joy and sorrow."-Though he is silent respecting it, this "acquiescence must have cost an arduous struggle. Conquest involves conflict as certainly in spiritual as in carnal welfare. And the reader will believe that this was not a small conquest. Ambition was not likely to leave him unvisited. His love of literature was strong, and he could not doubt his power of one day augmenting its stores, and hoped, perhaps, to enrol his name among its illustrious sons. Heart-strings would be
ETAT. 21] HIS RESIGNATION TO THE DIVINE WILL.
torn and bleed therefore, before he could be brought to say: "My acquiescence in His plans is complete." But I believe this was fact. And though life was prolonged beyond what he then expected, and his health considerably invigorated, he appears to have maintained this feeling. I was in almost daily intercourse with him during the last eighteen months of his life, and I believe he could habitually say:
"Heart be still!
In the darkness of thy woe,
Comes to thee whate'er God will
Be thou still!
"Be thou still!
Vainly all thy words are spoken,
"Rest thou still!
"Tis thy Father's work of grace,—
"Lord my God!
By Thy grace, O may I be
To the chastenings of Thy rod ;-
"" Shepherd King!
From Thy fulness grant to me
Still, yet fearless, faith in Thee,
Till from night the day shall spring!
He proceeds: "I am reading Southey's Life of Cowper. It is a great treat, although I meet with much that I cannot approve. Southey is an elegant writer, and the pleasantest biographer I have lately met with; but he is utterly unqualified to delineate some parts of Cowper's character. I
cannot however join in the rant against him which has been raised by a certain party.
"I am going through Foster's Essays. John is a most original thinker. Sometimes, however, he ekes out his thoughts singularly. You know he has long been a favourite with me—that I would scarcely allow any one to find fault with him except myself. I am glad to say that my admiration increases. I would put his books into the hands of every reflecting young person. I think he has got much from Pascal.
"Bloomfield's (Greek) Testament still pleases me. text is beautiful, and the notes are judicious. I am reading the Gospel of John, and perhaps I need not tell you of the enjoyment I realize in tracing the various lineaments of the Redeemer of mankind, as they are pourtrayed by 'the dis. ciple whom Jesus loved.' I have much to regret, but I do hope that my views of 'God manifest in the flesh,' have lately become more clear and intense. There is a beauty and glory in this mystery which captivates my soul. It is this object which has filled my mind, and preserved its varied powers in their proper balance, or I am persuaded that long ere this I should have been-I will not say what. I think I am laid under peculiar obligations to recommend the Saviour."
4th. "We are very liable to err in estimating men's motives. The springs of human conduct are often so complicated that it is almost impossible to analyze them. If we examine our own motives, we shall often find it difficult to say what was the precise inducement to any given course. Our most selfish actions are seldom altogether selfish, nor our most benevolent deeds altogether disinterested. When the balance is at the equipoise a grain will give preponderance. So it is in those delicate causes which determine human conduct."
ÆTAT. 21] THE DIVINE METHOD OF REWARD.
8th. "The superiority of character which a long and successful contest with difficulties and trials produces, is a reward for such conduct. And it is a reward of the very highest order. It far transcends every other gift which God confers in this world."-The grand purpose contemplated by God toward man is to produce assimilation to Himself. There "are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature." Religious ordinances benefit us only as they elevate our aims and purify our motives. How is it possible for anything really to benefit me further than as it exalts my character? It is only thus the benefit can be permanent. If I am seeking any lower good than exaltation of views, purposes, and experiences, I am seeking that which is transient and unsatisfying. In the future world therefore, as well as in this, it will be found that the highest gifts God can impart are those which most ennoble our natures.
20th. "To be content with vague ideas has a mischievous effect not only upon speaking and writing but also upon conduct. A wise and energetic course of action must proceed from an intellect firmly braced and vigorously exercised."
"Some parts of Divine truth have far too feeble a hold upon my mind, especially those which relate to the punishment of the wicked."
"If I seek to appear better than I am, I am a hypocrite. This is loving the praise of men more than that of God."
"There is a difference between taking up' and 'bearing' our cross; between patiently bearing what is painful when we cannot avoid it, and voluntarily choosing it because it is the will of God."
"In nothing perhaps is the transcendent power of genius