« PreviousContinue »
information I have from one, who was sure to know it. As she has expressed it to me, "He acted now, as a person that had a new sense of accountableness.'
His whole taste, moreover, was now changed. Not that he had parted with his former pleasantry, kindliness, and susceptibility of wit; but these native talents either were held in check, or were directed to flow in a new and sacred channel. I have sometimes been tempted to regret that I did not, in 1820, ask him what he now thought of his visits, five years ago, to the theatre. Probably the cause of my omitting, and indeed forgetting, at the time, to do this, was, that I saw him to be a thoroughly altered man,-one truly renewed in the spirit of his mind: old things had passed away, all things had become new. No doubt he would have given this as his own view of the subject. His voice, from the tomb, seems to return the answer, "A heavenly mind must abhor and pity the sins and follies of a theatre!"
What could have thus purified all his tastes, and kept his mind ALWAYS ON DUTY, but the new motive of the love of Christ? He now grew as a living branch from the true Vine. The two characteristics of his closing years were, fruitfulness in all good works; and peace of mind, in a degree not very often attained.
5. It is obvious, yet important to observe, how much the preceding Memoir may tend To ANI
MATE PARENTAL HOPES, AND TO MODERATE PA
RENTAL ANXIETIES. Prayers very many, very fervent, persevering, and importunate, had been
offered up, in secret and together, by his parents, and by the pious ministers and friends who visited the family, the benefit of which was not seen till after many days. Always to pray, and not to faint, is the duty of every Christian; but those affections, which naturally are the strongest, are peculiarly pleasing to God when thus sanctified by the spirit of intercession. The scriptural examples of this are well known; and among them the maternal character shines with peculiar brightness. Several of the patriarchs, prophets, and disciples, renowned in the Old and New Testaments, had pious mothers or fathers, or both. The mothers of Augustine, of Bishop Hall, of George Herbert, Dr. Doddridge, and several eminent characters of our own day, obtained, earlier or later, answers to their prayers on behalf of their children. This Memoir adds one more to this goodly number of the children of parental prayer. Every such fresh instance of mercy seems to reinforce the question, How knowest thou, O man, or thou, O woman, but that the same blessing may be granted to thy partner, thine offspring, or thy friend?
A hint, to moderate anxiety, may naturally be added, when we see how late the wishes of pious parents attain, sometimes at least, their final accomplishment. The wish of the devout father or mother may be, and plans may have accordingly been laid, that the son of many prayers should become a faithful minister of Christ. But there are many turnings and windings in his path, some haltings, some hopeless passages, at which the heart of the
parent has fainted with uncertainty; unwilling to say to his child, at all events, "Go on, as with the ministry for your object; " and equally reluctant to say, All must be given up." Yet, may not a person of some years and experience, after faithfully reviewing the way in which the Lord has led him or his friend for many years, turn that very retrospect into an argument for patience? Certainly he may. Remembering his own path, he may exercise towards others of the advancing generation a cheerful caution. Cautious and circumspect he is bound to be: cheerful he yet may be, waiting on God.
6. The benefit of EARLY AND SOUND SCRIPTURAL EDUCATION is very strongly illustrated in this Memoir. To have known the Scriptures from a child is a mighty preparation for usefulness in after-life. When at length the influences of the Holy Spirit, the Author of sacred Scripture, are communicated effectually to the heart of an individual so trained, then it is that his knowledge of the Scriptures is found to be invaluable. It is like hoarded treasures of ready-coined gold and silver, suddenly discovered, and fit for immediate circulation. Hence it was that my friend, soon after his conversion, began to write and speak, in a good measure, as a Christian of longstanding experience. This was not, in his case, an imitative act, copying affectedly the phraseology of those whom he had from his childhood known as most eminent in the religious world. Affectation was far from him. His copious feeling, and exact descriptions of the Christian life,
flowed from a fulness of the memory and of the understanding brought now, at length, under the immediate command of a sincere, humble, and disciplined heart. Hence there appears in his letters and discourses a rapid advance toward maturity. It is far otherwise with some who, being converted late in life, and not having enjoyed early the knowledge of the Bible, mingle the crudest interpretations, and sometimes the most extravagant notions with a sincere desire to glorify their Master. In conversation also or discussion, how inconveniently and untowardly does many a right-hearted and sensible man handle a topic of divinity, which is quite familiar and plain to those who have long known Scripture! From these circumstances of embarrassment he was exempt; having clearly understood the Truth, even many years before he felt its power.
7. They surely are not wise, who suffer envy, or even desire, to kindle in their bosom, whilst observing the AFFLUENT CIRCUMSTANCES AND EMINENT TALENTS of their friends or contemporaries. What a temptation to a man are great talents, and great possessions, to live without God in the world! Moreover, in company with these extraneous advantages there are not unfrequently found certain drawbacks, the fair view of which should make persons of inferior means and capacities heartily contented with the humble portion of earthly gifts allotted to them. How often does affluence breed ennui! Wealth ritance may bribe off one of our
held by inhestrongest mo
tives to activity. That motive, necessity, is
indeed, in its severer forms, distressing, and has in it somewhat of the nature of a curse:-yet that very curse is turned into a blessing; it is, moreover, of Divine appointment, and has in all ages very largely contributed in furnishing the most useful, the most honourable, and most happy members of society. Superior talents, also, while the tide of youth sets in full for honour and delight, may carry a man far in the acquisition of knowledge: but in the use of his abundant stores he may, after a few years, be found a long way behind the humbler sons of industry; or he may even be so far tempted to neglect the ordinary rules by which men live, as to become at length stationary and of little use in the world, like a richly-freighted vessel fallen fast upon a sand-bank in the midst of its voyage. So might the subject of this Memoir have concluded his days; for certainly, at one time, although variety of occupations and amusements was sought for by him, yet his mind was evidently in danger of becoming quite unproductive, while others of his college friends were turning life to profit. He himself, in 1820, thus expressed this feeling in reference to one of them;
Six years, I think, he has been serving his Master; and what have I been doing?"
8. It has always appeared to me that he had some advantage from his being THE YOUNGEST, and, at the same time, THE LAST SURVIVOR IN HIS OWN FAMILY; more especially in reference to his preparation for a dying hour. I visited him two days after the death of his brother Samuel, whom