Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

ÆTAT. 22] RICHARD AND EDMUND BURKE.

167

Don't trust to your

other died comparatively obscure.
genius, young man, but work, work, work."

"No good of worth sublime will Heaven permit
To light on man as from the passing air;
The lamp of genius, though by nature lit,
If not protected, pruned, and fed with care,
Soon dies, or runs to waste with fitful glare :
And learning is a plant that spreads and towers
Slow as Columbia's aloe, proudly rare,

That, mid gay thousands, with the suns and showers
Of half a century, grows alone before it flowers.

Has immortality of name been given

To them that idly worship hills and groves,
And burn sweet incense to the queen of heaven?
Did Newton learn from fancy, as it roves,

To measure worlds, and follow where each moves?
Did Howard gain renown that shall not cease,
By wanderings wild that nature's pilgrim loves?
Or did Paul gain heaven's glory and its peace,

By musing o'er the bright and tranquil isles of Greece?"

It was about this time that his attention was first directed to the writings of the two Wesleys. The influence they began to shed over him is very apparent in many of the subsequent extracts :-Jan. 26th. "I have for some time had a conviction that true religion cannot be the halfand-half sort of thing it too often seems amongst us. The operations of divine power cannot be so equivocal. O that God would lead me to something better !"-Whether he may be praised or blamed for altering his views on "the five points," no reader will blame him for desiring to be led "to to something better." He had never yet experienced either the religious joy or power he now began to see were the privilege of every Christian believer. It will be seen that his religious experience became clearer and deeper.

My term at College having expired at Christmas, Mr. Hessel spent a few days with me prior to my entering upon

the duties of the pastorate at Kirkby-Stephen, in Westmoreland, and to his entering upon an engagement for three months at Northallerton. In a short time after our separation I received from him the accompanying letter dated Feb. 1st: "Perhaps it is not necessary to tell you that since we parted I have often thought of you. The remembrance of the pleasant hours we have lately spent together will not be easily effaced. I hope you feel happy in your nook, and find the work of your hands to prosper. Since I saw you I have had a severe attack of influenza. It has reduced me very low, but I am regaining my strength and spirits.

"During the last week my mind has been influenced in a peculiar manner. I trust I can say that I have been humbled in the dust on account of my spiritual poverty. I have wasted much time in unprofitable pursuits, and have failed to realize habitually the great end of existence. I have discovered many things in myself which call for deep humiliation before God, but which I feel reluctant to mention even to my friend. At the same time I hope that God is commencing a blessed change in me, and leading me nearer to Himself. I am certain that if I live as I have done I shall never be of much benefit to the world. It is a great mercy the decree has not gone forth-ʻ cut him down, why cumbereth he the ground?'

"I have applied myself more than ever seriously to the study of the Scriptures. If we wish to be enriched with divine wisdom we must search them diligently and prayerfully. There is something exquisitely delightful, humbling as it is, in feeling our ignorance and asking wisdom from God. I have lately spent much time in examining parallel passages, and have found the practice wonderfully profitable. I see it is quite possible for an unlearned reader of the English Bible only, to become much wiser than many ministers.

ETAT. 22] JOHN HOWE AND RICHARD WATSON.

169

"I am reading Howe. Whatever you do keep close to him. I know no writer in whom there is such a rare combination of excellencies. His quick perception of divine things his delicate moral sensibility the fine, pure, heavenly feeling that warms his thoughts-the power and symmetry of his intellect-the admirable manner in which he loses himself and becomes filled with his theme-these give me daily delight. You must read him attentively however, and perhaps it is best to read little at once. I have to-day been reading a sermon of Richard Watson's. I was struck with the similarity between him and Howe. They were both evidently born to study. How many

study, or pretend to study, who were not!

2nd. "I have no doubt you will feel yourself to have commenced a new life. Preaching statedly to the same congregation is very different from College preaching. I have lately seen the importance of a careful preparation for the pulpit. Our sermons, if we hope for success, must be deeply and devoutly studied. We must aim at a clear arrangement of thought, and have divine truth laid before the eye of the mind in a simple and natural order. It is mischievous to get into the habit of smocking up a sermon' in no time. I am persuaded the future character of our mind will much depend upon our present practice. I care not how plain the words a man uses if only his thoughts are clear, orderly, and strong.

"Suffer a word of exhortation. You will not be offended if I remind you of the importance of selecting suitable subjects for your hearers. It is my opinion, and I think you will agree with me, that our preaching in general is far from meeting the moral exigencies of our congregations. The cross of Christ, with its wonderful claims and attractions, should be more urgently pressed upon the attention of the people. We preach Christ crucified' should be our Discussion and systematic lecturing will seldom

motto.

M

[ocr errors]

do much good among plain people. Nothing will keep us right but a daily experience of the value of these first principles. If we live as we ought, our own feelings will perhaps be our best guide."

6th. "Find out what is the highest and best form of religion that which brings to myself most holiness and happiness, and does most good to my fellow-men-and be content with nothing less. If this principle had been fully acted upon what might I have been ?"

7th. "This thought has been upon my mind to-daysouls are sacrificed upon the altar of etiquette."

12th. "I have reason to be thankful. All that I have asked has been in substance given. During this week I have not prayed in vain. I feel that God is good. I hope for still more next week. I know this hope, so far from being displeasing to Him, will be approved. He is not like men; He delights to give. And to those who ask most He gives most."-Many things will excite the wonder of glorified saints on reviewing their earthly course. But probably nothing more than the contracted views too generally entertained of the Divine benevolence. A heathen, on hearing many of our prayers, would conclude that the object of our worship needed persuasion in order to enrich us with spiritual good. Does not all His conduct, however, especially that consummating act, the gift of His only-begotten Son for our redemption-do not all His promises-declare that He is seeking to induce us to accept His blessings? What an unfolding of His benevolence is that inspiring appeal of Paul: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" O penitent sinner! O timid believer! why shouldest thou hesitate to expect instant and unutterable good? Hearken

[ocr errors]

ETAT. 22] IMPROVED CHARACTER OF HIS PREACHING. 171

to the voice that is now addressing thee: "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

13th. "Passages of Scripture often come powerfully to my mind. There appears a beauty, a fulness, an infinity, about all that God has said. This has not been the case until lately. I will be thankful for what God has done, and look for still greater things."

20th. "I will endeavour this week in prayer to seek a present blessing. This is the only way to get on. It is only by being continually blessed now that religion can advance."

21st. "How much time is spent in thinking about things when we ought to be doing them. I want more promptitude."

The style of his preaching now underwent considerable alteration. It became more simple, pointed, and practical. That good effects should soon visibly result is only what might be expected. In a letter to me dated the 27th, he says, "I spend more time than I ever did in the study of God's word. A deep experimental acquaintance with it is the only real source of power in the pulpit. The effects of this study have been seen in the results of my preaching. I have every reason to hope that I do not now preach in vain. Many of the people have been anxious during the last two or three weeks to talk with me on the sermons of the previous Sunday. One sermon, on being born again,' particularly impressed three of my oldest hearers. Yesterday morning I preached from these words 'Brethren, pray for us,' and the effect was visible. We had a special prayer-meeting in the afternoon, and a larger congregation at night than I have ever seen here. I am much favoured in the villages. The houses are full and the people attentive. I have removed our week-day services into private

« PředchozíPokračovat »