Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

He

concentrated upon one object, far different from any sublunary care. He has been in a higher region. His spirit reflects the light of heaven and reveals the darkness of hell. He glances at the assembly, and how expressive is that glance ! His hearers feel that their best interests are dear to him. He opens the sacred volume, and all listen as if God Himself were speaking. He announces the subject of discourse. It is an important one; a practical one, in which all must feel interested. In commencing he is deeply serious, although far from being loud and boisterous. His thoughts and feelings at first escape in gentle accents. addresses the understanding, knowing that persons require to be informed before they can be excited. His descriptions are clear. His pictures are vivid. His aim is direct. His hearers cannot mistake him. They feel the tendency of his thoughts, they eagerly anticipate his object. There is no dry detail; no eccentric starting from the line his solemn circumstances have marked out. As he proceeds he gathers a mysterious energy. The light he scattered now diffuses heat. He draws the curtain which conceals the invisible. The busy scenes of earth vanish. Heaven and hell are revealed. Every countenance reflects the light of the one or the gloom of the other. There is not a careless or inattentive hearer; all are constrained to look in the direction he points. He now feels he has got access to their inmost souls and does not fail to improve the precious moment. He urges the things which belong to their peace.' With resistless eagerness he presses the inquiry' what must I do to be saved?' He appeals to conscience in a tone which compels response. The affections and passions are aroused. Love, and fear, and hope, start from their slumbers, and the whole moral being becomes intensely awake.-Such is the man I ought to be. Who is sufficient for these things?""

CHAPTER VI.

AT HOWDEN. Character of his reading-The joy derivable from the Divine Omnipresence-Remarks on affliction-Death preferable to uselessness-A Presence which pervades creation-No disgrace in industry-Comparison of Howe and Owen-The design and proper mode of education-Aphorisms on the communication of thought as a means of improvement.

SUNNY moments, in which subjects previously wrapped in gloom appear distinct and radiant, visit every mind. Reflecting minds often experience periods when mental energy flows with tidal force. Such a period Mr. Hessel was now experiencing. No sooner had he arrived at Howden, than he began to feel the invigorating influence of balmy air and agreeable society upon both body and mind. The latter gradually recovered its elasticity, and soon exhibited a vigour which he never greatly surpassed, and a fertility which he never afterwards equalled. Between the 5th of Dec. and the 20th of Feb., he filled a 12mo. memorandum book containing 177 pages, 35 lines in a page. He sometimes wrote from seven to ten pages a day, besides letters to his friends. The subjects on which he wrote were extremely varied, suggested partly by what he was reading.

Some index to the character of his mind will be furnished by a knowledge of his reading at this period. I find a paper dated Aug. 8th, 1836, and headed: "Reading during the last eight months.-Howe on delighting in God. Living Temple (part). First and last volume of Robert Hall's works. Jeremy Taylor's Sermons (2 vols). Barrow's Sermons (1 vol). Chalmers' Sermons (1 vol). Edwards' Sermons (a few). Foster's Essays (carefully). Greater part of Baxter's Saint's Rest. Life of Baxter-of Urquahart

-of Dr. Mason Good-of Cowper-of Sir James Mackintosh-of Owen-of Jonathan Edwards (greater part)-of Boswell's Life of Johnson (1 vol.)—of Burns. Good's Book of Nature (2 vols). Butler's Analogy. Combe's Physiology, &c. Brigham on the Influence of Mental Cultivation, &c. Ramidge on Consumption. Dick on the Improvement of Mankind. Pye Smith's Scripture Testimony (1 vol). Horne's Introduction (some parts). Reed and Matheson's Visit to the American Churches (greater part). Brown's Philosophy of the Human Mind (part). Mackintosh's History of England (first vol). Random Recollections of the House of Commons. Characteristics of Goethe by Mrs. Austin. Howitt's Book of the Seasons (greater part). Milton's Prose Works (several pieces). Abbott's Corner Stone. China and the English. Cowper's Letters.-Poems (more than half). Paradise Lost (greater part). Some parts of Shakspeare-together with several other volumes, also numerous articles from BlackwoodEdinbro' Review-Metropolitan-Quarterly-Eclectic, and many little things I cannot remember."

"The following division has struck me," says he, in some observations headed "Mind."—" 1. The moral faculties; requiring daily exercise in prayer and praise to God, and in deeds of benevolence to man. They must be cultivated by the Scriptures and the agency of the Spirit. 2. The intellectual faculties. Vigorous efforts of reason-exercise in consecutive thinking. The acquirement of new ideas from the various sources of information. The exercise of imagination in forming new combinations of ideas. 3. The social faculties. The gift of speech is the principal instrument in turning all the other faculties to good account. Power of reason, splendour of imagination, or copiousness of information, will be of little avail unless we are able to communicate. But practice alone can enable us to do this. A day should

ETAT. 21] THE OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD CONSOLATORY.

95

never be spent without talking a great deal. The social circle is a fine sphere for the development of the human mind. We must mark the effects of conversation, and discover the best modes of access to the minds of men. We must converse with all kinds of men; for one class will call the powers into partial exercise only. There are various means of communicating ideas, each of which requires a different exercise of the faculties. The intimate converse of friendship--the interchanges of thought in the domestic circle-intercourse with the world in general, in which conversation must be engaged in with caution and prudencepublic speaking, where minds of almost every grade are addressed. To acquire excellence in these varied spheres is an object worthy of much labour."

Jan. 10th. "The omnipresence of God is replete with consolation. We all know the feeling inspired by the presence of a dear friend. I remember when in sickness, danger, or distress, a visit from one endeared to me has produced a total change in my feelings. Sickness has abated, the sense of danger has been removed, the anguish of an almost broken heart has been soothed. But in our everlasting friend, all the qualities which afford consolation and enjoyment are infinite. What then ought to be the consolation arising from the sense of His presence? The idea is unutterable. There is no real necessity ever to be unhappy."

In a letter to me, dated Howden, Jan. 15th, he says:"You will be surprised to find me here again-you see I move about like an ignis fatuus, although I hope I do not shed its illusive light. I am happy to say that my health is much better, although I am far from well. I have had no return of the bleeding but have a sense of weakness. If I study for any length of time the old pain returns to my head, and I am obliged to desist. I am subject to great nervous depression, although I take as much exercise as I

can well bear. My appetite is generally good, especially at night, but I do not think proper to gratify it.

time I feel that Even mercy is

"I know not how to express my obligation for the interest you take in me; the idea of your sympathy and prayers often consoles me. I believe your requests have been heard in my partial restoration. I thank you for your views on affliction. They have long been familiar but they cannot be presented in too many aspects. But still, my dear friend, while I agree with you in general, that these trials are the appropriate portion of the people of God, and that they are sent in mercy, at the same my sins have brought them upon me. obliged to employ the hand of justice to execute her designs. But it is consoling to know that justice is only her delegate, and acts under her control. I am much afraid I have not profited by affliction. If my depravity should transmute these 'blessings in disguise' into curses, how fearful must be the consequences! Sometimes I fancy I am improved, but often fear that increased nervous sensibility is the only change. There is great danger of mistaking an alteration of the physical condition for a change in the moral nature.” -The views on affliction to which I had given utterance to my friend, were those then current. Subsequent reading and reflection however, have led me to doubt their correctness. I am satisfied that health may be retained by the employment of suitable means, and that its failure is to be attributed to physical causes generally lying within our control. Afflictions, excepting those inherited, come from God just in the same way as poverty comes upon a man who neglects his business-as a punishment, certainly, but a punishment naturally consequent on his own conduct, and which therefore he might ordinarily have avoided. "Let it never be forgotton," says Dr. Combe, in his valuable work on the Physiological and Moral Management of Infancy, "that disease and untimely death are the results, not of

« PředchozíPokračovat »