Obrázky stránek

at the recommendation, of his friends. It cost him, however, a struggle and a pang. On the 10th of April he writes, and the "hand” indicates the agitation of the heart: “This connection must be broken. Both her happiness and my own demand it. Yes-it must be—tho' it rend every fibre of my heart. O thou great Searcher of hearts, I appeal to thee! Thou knowest what have been my thoughts and feelings, and what are my motives in this determination." The sudden annihilation of those bright pictures of domestic enjoyment fancy had often painted, was but a small part of this trial. His social nature found in that intimacy a stimulus and outlet highly beneficial.

He communicated the intelligence to me in a letter from Howden dated April 30th: "I fear you will think I have forgotten you, it is now so long since I wrote. I have been about to write several times but could not brace my mind to the effort. You will not be surprised when you have read this letter. I have passed through severe trials of late. I often wished to pour my sorrows into your friendly ear, but dreaded to harrow up my feelings afresh by a recital of them.

"My hopes of recovery, I now believe, have been unfounded. More decided symptoms of pulmonary disease have been manifested of late. You know there was one tie-one dear tender tie bound me to earth; that I have felt it my duty to sever. I will not attempt to tell you what the effort has cost. I found that my health materially affected hers, and I could not bear the idea of dragging her along with me to the grave. I saw it was best to part. Those of our friends who knew of the connection had long been of that opinion; and after many painful struggles the correspondence from which we both anticipated so much has been closed.

"I leave you to judge what I have suffered. I feel it my duty to watch over my feelings with sternness. I am


an altered man.

Sorrow has imparted a marble chillness to my soul; and yet I feel at times as if I should melt with tenderness. My general state is that of calm contented melancholy. My trials are mingled with mercies, and I have now the firmest persuasion that all these things will work together for good.

"You will naturally inquire what I intend to do in future. Perhaps I ought not to use the word 'do,' when I have so much reason to apprehend that it now only remains for me to suffer. I have given up all thoughts of returning to Airedale. A residence in the south seems desirable, but the expense would exceed my means. I think I could perform the pulpit duties of a small place, and ministerial engagements would probably be beneficial. I may be deceiving myself as to my competency for preaching, but I should like to try. The idea of being silent is very painful. Some of the first physicians have recommended moderate exercise of the lungs in the first stages of consumption, and in some cases election to a professorship has been the means of effecting a cure. But I lie in the hands of God, and as I daily seek His direction, I may trust He will make needful provision for me. Should He call me away soon I should not like to leave this place. You know there is much to attach me to Howden, and will not wonder at my wish to die here. I intend however to consult one of the London physicians, and should be happy if you could accompany me. We would go by steam and remain only a week. In the present state of my health and spirits I feel reluctant to go alone, and I need not say how delightful your company would be. Do make an effort.

May 5th. "I have been waiting to fix the time of my going to London, and have at last determined upon next Tuesday fortnight. I should like to see you here on Monday. I really do expect you. You must come. We shall stay as long or as short as you like.

"I feel surprised at the improvement in my strength and spirits since last Saturday. But I set small value on these changes, for one day I am on the summit of good health and the next feel ready for the grave. I have no doubt that tubercles are upon my lungs. I am often sanguine of recovery, and that I regard as no good symptom. I can now account for the mental excitement under which I have laboured. It has its origin in disease. I have a thousand things to tell you, but my tardy pen cannot give them utterance. I must reserve them till I see you."

The deeply painful emotions excited by this letter were augmented by the fact that circumstances debarred me from accompanying him to London.

On May 1st he writes in his Journal: "Sabbath. Last night, in prayer, was very much affected with these words: that Christ may be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.' I felt complete resignation to God. If Christ be magnified in my death, I am not only willing but wishful to die. If the great end be attained it seems not only wrong but foolish to be concerned about my own trifling desires. I thought of my unexecuted plans, and felt I could freely give them up. This morning my soul is calmly stayed upon God. I have not much joy but a sweet peace. I fear that much is yet to be done before I am ready for heaven. I feel unfit to join its company; but I have a humble confidence that God will prepare me. In examining my heart I think I can see the seeds of glory planted there. Low as my spiritual state is, I possess a something which belongs not to my depraved nature. And yet I sometimes doubt. In my gloomy moments I fear that imagination may have painted these splendid visions, and that I am living under an illusion. I then try to forget the past and come to God as if I had never come before. The sacrifice of the Redeemer is the only plea I urge; and knowing its prevalency with God I venture my eternal interests upon it.


Sometimes I am enabled to come very near to God, and to speak familiarly. At other times I have such views of His majesty as keep me at a distance, and I gaze in silent reverence. I then call to mind 'God manifest in the flesh,' and feelings of unutterable tenderness rush over my soul. There is something so affecting in the idea of His laying aside His majesty and coming to hold intercourse with me, in a nature like my own, that I feel as if I could look for ever in silent wonder upon this mysterious phenomenon. The mind in attempting to measure the two extremes of humiliation and majesty is lost in sweet confusion. 'To know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent,' this is knowledge indeed!”

4th. "I hope I feel a growing tendency towards whatever is excellent, and have more of a spirit of love than formerly. I have sometimes such strong affection for my fellow-men that I cannot avoid praying for them. These states of mind seem to indicate the existence of a divine nature

within me. What a mystery of love that God should empty us of our vileness, and fill us with His own excellence!"

"This day has not been well spent. It might have yielded twice as much profit and pleasure. If I do not take care the great object of existence will be wrested from me, after all. It is surprising what may be done if only the spirit is determined. The value of any given time is not to be estimated by its length, but by the quantity and quality of the action with which it is occupied. Above all things I see the importance of beginning well in the morning. If the first three hours be well spent, a double value is stamped on the remaining hours. I find that the fate of the day is generally decided by breakfast time. Spend three hours before breakfast in deep and profitable study, and you may spend the rest of the day as you like."-Sir Walter Scott and

Albert Barnes, the American Commentator, furnish recent illustrations of the truth of this remark. "It was Sir Walter's practice to rise by five o'clock and light his own fire. By the time the family had assembled for breakfast, between nine and ten, he had done enough-to use his own words-to break the neck of the day's work." Mr. Barnes has told the public that the whole of his numerous Commentaries have been written before nine o'clock a.m.

5th. "I feel an earnest, and I trust, increasing desire to advance in religion, and certainly I have much more enjoyment in it than formerly. I attribute this to regularity in devotion-retiring for prayer at noon, and praying over the portion of God's word I read. I am convinced that if we intelligently employ the means, God will never withhold His blessing."

“Have felt to-day a calm indifference to the opinions of men. It seems a small thing that they should censure or praise me.

[ocr errors]

Happy, O God, if thou approve,
Tho' all beside condemn.'

Experience probably supplied this sentiment: "I see it is highly possible for nervous weakness to assume the garb of humility. I will keep this in view."

6th. "Have had an unusual spirit of prayer both last night and this morning. God has appeared wonderfully great, and good, and glorious; so much so, that I could not help exclaiming: Wonderful Being! Blessed Jehovah! To be like Him appears so desirable that I wonder I do not every moment pray for it."

"There are many topics in religion not suitable to the pulpit, for this obvious reason, that they exclude more important things. Satan has gained a great point if he can get ministers to occupy their minds about religion to

« PředchozíPokračovat »