« PreviousContinue »
The total loss of the use of his right-hand prevented his putting on paper many things interesting and highly instructive: this he often lamented; while the agitation of his 'nerves rendered it impracticable to be done by others. I have, with mournful pleasure, discovered passages in his Bible, evidently marked SINCE his diseased state, to which he has with a trembling left-hand put his initials, “R. C. Amen!” testifying his hope and confidence in the all-sufficiency and atoning merit of his Saviour. 1 Cor. xvi, 22. Rev.
12. A short time before his decease, on hearing the 2d chapter of Jonah read at family worship, he was much impressed by it, and gathered from it great consolation. He spoke on it for a considerable time; and, the next day, desired me to read the Book of Jonah through to him: after which he made many beautiful observations—and remarked how it extended to every possible case--and afforded unlimited hope, and furnished a perfect antidote to despondency-with many other observations, which have escaped my memory. I must ever regret, that the nature of my employment in attending him prevented the possibility of my securing on paper many of his valuable conversations, at those intervals when a ray of divine consolation broke through the cloudy and dark day of disease.
It has been before remarked that Mr. Cecil's views became more and more simply evangelical, particularly during the days of his affliction. In this school he had long been taught: high lessons were here put before him: and, in his own words, in his “ Visit to the House of Mourning," I may say of him—“The great Husbandman will not fail to adopt the sharpest means for the improvement of his choicest plants :" and, again, from his favourite Leighton--" The Church is God's
jewelry_his working-house, where his jewels are polished for his palace; and those he especially esteems and means to make most resplendent, he hath oftenest his tools upon them.” Thus the ever-dear departed passed through many tribulations; and, as the Apostle speaks, "filled up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, for his body's sake, which is the Church.” Thus was he conformed to his Saviour--and thus he trod the highway of the cross to the kingdom, there to receive a crown of life, which the Lord, the rightcous judge, will give. While it
most melancholy post of observation to mark the daily progress and depredations made on such a mind by disease; and while his shattered state could not but lead me often to exclaim with the Prophet, How are the mighty fallen !—yet it was a scene replete with important instruction. I have been deeply impressed on remarking how he bowed to his dispensation-how submissively he passed through the valley of humiliation; and shone resplendent, even in the ruins of nature. Endless, indeed, would be the instances of dignity and beauty which might be exhibited of this rich and honoured character, were I to retrace the space of near thirty years-privileged with such a guide, companion, and friend !--but my health and spirits fail me, and only admit me mournfully to complain with the Prophet, “My father !!!— My father!”—ashamed and confounded while I meditate on my own unworthiness, and the little improvement of so great a talent!
I cannot but remark that Mr. C. possessed opposite points of excellence beyond most men. While he was generous and liberal to others, I have known him much wanting to himself. He has often, after walking in great pain and fatigue,
come into his house faint and exhausted, rather than allow himself the accommodation of a coach; and, when I have remonstrated with him upon it, he would reply_“You know I have great demands, and enough to do to meet them.” Not that he did not see the mistake, when too late to remedy it; and, had it been for myself or a child, he would have lost sight of the expense, and regarded only our relief; nay, perhaps the very next hour his compassion to others would lead him to give to a poor distressed object at his door. Here was high principle,-humanity, and self-denial. He was neither extravagant nor penurious ; but endeavoured wisely to steer between both these extremes.
abstemious to unusual extent.
It has been · remarked by some, that it was a defect in Mr. Cecil, that he did not lay by something for his family. This objection could only arise in the mind of those, who were not acquainted with his circumstances; and from a mistaken view of his affairs : the error of which would evidently appear, on a full investigation of both. But it is not my intention to enter into these particulars. The man, who felt it a duty to forego taking a coach, that he might not add to the common demands of his family, sufficiently proves that he had nothing to lay by. Yet I do not speak in respect of want : that God, whom he served in his spirit, did not leave him to want; but rather taught him to live by the day in dependance on his gracious providence, which often appeared conspicuous, by timely interferences and unxepected helps, when he has been reduced to his last resource, and perfectly ignorant by what means he could possibly meet the next demand; and he had serious and delicate objections to bor
rowing—but, in the mount of the Lord, his arm has been seen.
Indeed, if any objections may have been formed to any part of Mr. Čecil's conduct, I must be permitted to believe, that they arise only from a partial knowledge : but, should they, in any case, originate in a want of liberality and charity, I would say,-“Restrain reflection. Go thou, and do like him. Go, like him, and mourn over defects in secret. Go, like him, and pray against them in the closet. Go, like him, and correct, and bring them into subjection. Go, like him, and keep under thy body, thy thoughts, and thy tongue."
It has been well remarked by an old writer“ That nothing softeneth the arrogance of our nature, like a mixture of some frailties.
It is by them, we are told, that we must not strike too hard on others, because we ourselves do so often deserve blows: they pull our rage by the sleeve, and whisper gentleness to us in our censures, even when they are rightly applied."
May I be allowed to digress for a few moments, with remarks not altogether irrelative to this narrative; and to explain some points in Mr. Cecil's character and conduct, which have been either LITTLE UNDERSTOOD, or altogether MISUNDERSTOOD.
It has been conceived by some, that he possessed a proud independence of spirit; which discovered itself in the refusal of favours offered by generous friends, who not only would gladly have administered to his necessities, but to his comfort. In his single state, his necessities were comparatively few : his ardent mind, and his conceptions of the ministerial character, naturally led him to fall in with the sentiment of the Apostle—willing to endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
It is to be considered, that, not only when a
single man, but AT ALL TIMES, his whole soul was under the influence of a sacred dedication to the grand object which he had in view. He was naturally intrepid, and did not appear to possess with men in common the fears and anxieties attending poverty. There was NOTHING, which he would not have made a willing sacrifice to his grand object—the Church ; with a firm determination to avoid all impediments in the way of his reproving and exhorting with all authority, in the midst of a corrupt generation-striving to become a LIGHT, and not STUMBLING-BLOCK among them. He was, therefore, while gratefully alive to favour and friendship, not to be FETTERED by any
- not to be SHACKLED BY OBLIGATIONS TO CREATURE, so as to endanger his faithfulness : but, with a DIGNIFIED and CHRISTIANIZED independence, he pursued his course, unconcerned as to what might befall him in the way. Thus he recommended himself to every man's conscience; and proved the reality of his faith, and the integrity of his heart.
With respect to offered favours, he was much influenced by TIME-MANNER—and circumstances. If he could trace them as arising from any intimations FROM HIMSELF, however accidentally brought out, he felt a noble, as well as delicate recoiling: or, if the persons giving were not in easy circumstances, his benevolence of heart revolted at availing himself of their liberality; and, on such OCCASIONS he has refused favours, though most kindly offered. On the other hand, where any thing appeared to him to come in the course of providence, and he had sufficient evidence of this, no man more humbly or more willingly accepted whatever was presented to him. For the smallest gift, he has expressed the greatest satisfaction; and always felt particular pleasure in any thing, however small, being presented to him as a token of affection. It was under these impres