Obrázky stránek

ETAT. 20]



to narrate because of the imputation it reflects upon others. Since no names are mentioned, however, and it served to exhibit the character of my friend so fully, I cannot persuade myself to suppress the mention of it. It formed part of every Friday afternoon's duties at the College for one of the students to read an Essay on a self-selected subject in the presence of the others and the Theological Tutor, for the purpose of criticism. It was desired that tho' the criticism should be kindly expressed, it should be as free as possible. Any decided and objectionable peculiarity would, of course, among such a number of young men of various temperaments as well as talents, call forth occasionally, something more than animadversion. It was now


his turn to produce an Essay. As a composition, the one he read indicated rather than exhibited talent. Its most prominent feature was excess of imagination, a pardonable fault in a writer of little more than twenty. It was commented upon, generally, in a tone of great severity. It was one of those occurrences which severely test a man. calmly reviewed the matter next day and thus records the result. 16th. "Yesterday read an essay 'on the influence of the Bible.' It was most unmercifully criticised by the students. It did not receive justice from any one except Mr. Scott. In a calm review of the matter I believe the following is a just statement of the case. 1. The essay does possess value as a literary production. The imagery is too luxuriant, my exalted conceptions of the subject caused this. 2. It was badly read. I cannot read well under such circumstances. 3. I am certain it was not understood. This forms some excuse for their treatment, though the bitterness of some was clearly the result of envy. 4. I manifested a very wrong spirit. The treatment was unjust, I cannot but think, but I ought to have borne it patiently. Many hateful feelings of pride and contempt troubled my mind for a long time. May God forgive me.

O Jesus, what are my trials to thine! However, I hope to learn some useful lessons from the occurrence. 1. To accommodate myself to the prejudices of my fellow-students. When I see them wrong, instead of directly or even playfully opposing their opinions, let me endeavour to correct them by gentle means. 2. Let the unhappy bias of some excite sincere, loving pity rather than contempt. 3. Let me endeavour at all times to speak pleasantly.”—Here is a practical illustration of the way in which evils may conduce to our good. And no otherwise, be it understood, can they thus conduce.

"Thus ever in the steps of grief,

Are sown the precious seeds of joy ;
Each fount of Marah hath a leaf,

Whose healing balm we may employ."

June 4th. "I wish to keep the following things in view: 1. Nothing is to be done without prayer-constant, simple, fervent prayer. 2. God is able and willing to do everything He has promised. 3. Let me never cease asking Him to revive His work in my own soul, in the College, in the church, and in the world."

[ocr errors]

5th. "Dr. Cotton Mather inquired every morning what he should do in order to be most useful during that day. I will adopt a similar practice, and enter upon the engagements of each day with some specific object. O that God would incline my heart to devise and carry out plans of usefulness! What might I not have done, if I had but attempted great things in a spirit of dependence upon Him."

11th. "Prayed this evening under the tree and felt my mind much humbled and subdued. I want to live more in the spirit of prayer. This will be the best director of all my pursuits—will save me from a thousand follies, and secure me satisfying happiness."


As the vacation is very near, and I shall not have much time after to-day, I will engage in a few reflections

ÆTAT. 20]



upon the duties and responsibilities it will bring. 1. Let me be more careful in my preaching to select topics suitable to my hearers; and sedulously prepare for preaching by prayer and meditation. 2. Let me cultivate amiability of spirit in all my intercourse with my fellow men. Let there be nothing morose, austere, or proud; but the kindest feelings be evinced to every one. 3. Let my conversation, when not directly upon religion, be imbued with the spirit of religion, so that the transition from common to sacred topics may be natural and easy. 4. Let me also treat prejudices tenderly; for however unreasonable, it is wise to avoid exciting them."

30th." I feel much dissatisfied with my religious experience. Surely my mental energy has never been directed to the great work of spiritual advancement. Have felt much in reading Stoner's life.-I should like to know the truth on these subjects."-Mr. Stoner, as a Wesleyan minister, held it to be the privilege of every Christian to have a consciousness, by direct divine attestation, of his acceptance with God through Jesus Christ, and to receive grace sufficient" to be made and preserved blameless as to motive" unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Mr. Hessel had an adverse notion, but not having examined these subjects his candour will not suffer him to pronounce respecting them.



[ocr errors]

July 9th. "Experienced a little earnestness this morning in prayer. I trust I was melted for my sins, and felt desirous of devoting myself to God anew. Although I have been busy all day in my studies, I seem to make no advancement. I don't drink in knowledge; I only sip it in drops."


On August 4th, in fulfilment of a promise, he writes to one of his fellow-students-Mr. Brennand : I suppose it is customary for students, in corresponding with each other, to write witty and jocose letters. I confess I have no admi

ration of such correspondence. Perhaps this may arise from the fact that I have no talent for this style of writing. Be that as it may, it certainly appears to me contemptible, and altogether unworthy the character we ought to sustain.

“I suppose I must tell you what I have been doing since I left our Alma Mater. I have been more industrious than usual, for I have both read and written a great deal. I never thought so much in the same time, and you know that intense thinking is the grand means of intellectual advancement. Unless all the energies of the mind be concentrated—unless the intellectual eye looks clearly and steadily upon its object, there can be no material progress. I am more than ever convinced that mere desultory reading is injurious.

"I have lately been occupied with Burke, and am captivated with him. There is rich plunder for the student in his works. In some of his pieces he pours forth the rich treasures of his mind with a prodigality unrivalled. Occasionally his imagination runs wild. In the critique upon his writings by Professor Rogers I met with a passage which pleased me much. I will transcribe it, for I have no doubt it will give you equal pleasure. "Those who have no imagination, or but little, have small cause to plume themselves on the attainment of a cold correctness. It is a virtue which, like the temperance of old age, they cannot help practising. None but Apollo himself could drive such steeds of fire.' I am now commencing Smith's 'Wealth of Nations,' and have brought home with me this evening Orme's' Life of Baxter.'

[ocr errors]

"In preaching I have laid aside my grandeur, and endeavour to unfold and enforce divine truth in as simple a manner as I am able. I believe that short, energetic sermons, in which doctrine and appeal are mingled, are most useful. I often employ a direct mode of address."

Three days afterwards I received my first letter from

ÆTAT. 20]



him. After mentioning some arrangements for my paying him a visit at his Uncle Campbell's at Howden, he says: "And now, the details of business being settled, let me turn my attention to better things. In the first place I shall attempt a brief answer to your important inquiries. In answer to the first, I can say I 'have been doing.' I do not remember a period in which I have studied so hard as since I left you. I do hope that the ardent desires in which I then indulged were not the gay dreams of an illusive imagination. I do hope I have commenced a new era in my intellectual existence. I have read, I have thought, I have written, I have felt. What I have read, thought, written, and felt, I cannot tell you now, I must reserve it till you come.

"You will regard this language as boastful perhaps, but be it illusion or reality, I certainly have had the idea of intellectual advancement strongly impressed upon my mind. At the same time, I never, I think, saw so much of my own ignorance as now. I have great reason for thankfulnessabundant cause for humiliation. My mind feels as if it were struggling with all its bad habits, determined to emancipate itself, or perish in the attempt.

"I need not tell you that one cannot be doing in our way without receiving advantages. Well-directed mental exertion is its own reward; not its only one.

"I have preached-but alas, very feebly. If now and then there was a flash of light, or a movement of power, it speedily vanished. Here again I must use the language of gratitude and humiliation. At times, I think I never felt so much for immortal souls; and at others, I think I never was so awfully indifferent. I know my dear friend, you will sympathize with me-I trust you will pray for me. The following things have been impressed upon my mind with respect to preaching. You will pardon the form in which I clothe them. 1. Let us preach to sinners. I fear

« PředchozíPokračovat »