Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE.

FEBRUARY, 1805.

MEMOIR

OF
THE LATE REV, JOHN CASPAR LAVATER.

[Continued from our last, p. 8.]

In the spring of 1763, Mr. Lavater set out on a literary tour to some of the principal places in Germany; from which journey he acknowledges himself to have derived the most extensive benefits : -" I received advantages," said he, “ from my journey, of which I had not the least conception. My mind is continually enlarging, and my heart forcibly drawn after that which is good :- so greatly I profit by the conversation and example of learned, great, and good men.”

In the year 1766 Mr. Lavater married an excellent and amiable lady, with whom he lived thirty-four years in the most exemplary and happy manner; and by whom he had eight children, three of whom, a son and two daughters, survive him.

How he felt on the solemn day on which he was united to his amiable bride, he shall inforın us in his own words: I awoke very early, in the most serene and cheerful frame of mind. The sun had just arisen ; the resplendent glories of which both delighted my eyes and filled my soul with inexpressible delight. After having prayed and sung one of the beautiful hymns of the late excellent Mr. Gellert, I went to the apartment of the dear object of my love, who cheerfully came forth to meet me, and wished me a thousand blessings. We could not but adore and praise God, out of the abundance of our hearts. Two considerations very fɔrcibly struck my mind : first, That of the glory which might result to the providence of God from our union; and, secondiy, That of the immortality of our offspring. I then retired to my own room, and wrote the following prayer : Father of infinite goodneas, who art in Heaven, and sees: in secret, - blessed Author of our union, and Rewarder of thein that diligently seek thee,- behold us in our new connexion, commencing in thy name. Being now assembled in thy presence, we bless thee with the most joyful feelings of XIII.

G

[ocr errors]

our hearts, for having united us by the sacred bonds of mariage. Lo! we prostrate ourselves, and adore thee in the wost rapturous strains of unfeigned love and gratitude! Yes; thou lovest us, most gracious Father ; and we are sensible of this thy love! Ob that we may never lose sight of the gracious purposes for which thy wise providence has united us! Ob that we inay have continually renewed a sense of thy presence with us! We will, with heart and mind, rejoice in thee; and gladly serve thee with constant faithfulness and unremitting zeal. Let nothing allure us from thee; but keep us most closely united in thee! Be thou our supreme good! - let thy word be our food, and virtue our delight! Preserve us from the deceitfulness of sin ! Let us be watchful over ourselves, constant in our devotions, fervent in prayer, moderate in our enjoyments, sincere and upright in our dealings, faithful and affectionate towards each other! Let thy fear accompany us, 0 thou omnipresent and gracious Lover of inankind! Bless us, we humbly beseech thee, with good and healthy children ! and may we be enabled, by thy grace, to bring them up for the praise and glory of thy holy name! Lord, thou knowest the sincerity of our resolutions let our sweetest reward be the answering of these our prayers May our whole lite be consecrated to thy service, and entirely devoted to the cause of virtue and religion! Let us never forget these our resolutions, not even for a moment! O how sweet to call thee our Father ! Let us remain thy obedient children, unto the very end of our days! Be our God and our Guide, that we may remain faithful unto death! Amen.'

The first public office which was entrusted to Mr. Lavater's care, was that of chaplain to the orphan-house in Zurich; wpon which he entered in the year 176). Flere he found a. very large sphere of usefulness. His sermons were much . admired, and numerously attended; for he displayed in them great force of natural eloquence, accompanied with that divine unction of the Spirit of God which convinces the understanding, and wins the affections of the heart.

He used to write his discourses; and, by constant practice, obtained such a facility of committing them to memory, that he wanted but a few minutes for this purpose : yet he never confined himself strictly to his notes; but was very successful in inaking alterations in the pulpit, suitable to time and circumstances. A chief part of his attention was de.. voted to the large Aock of orphan-children, to whom lie shewed the most tender regard and affectionate care. He possessed a talent of conversing with children in an eminent degree, condescending to their very lowest capacities, and knowing how to keep alive their attention, to occupy their un- , derstand: 1g and to inake a deep impression upon their tender hearts.

But still a larger field of useful activity was opened to Mr. Lavater, when he was chosen, in the year 1778, to be deacon, or assistant minister, at the large parish of St. Peter, in Zurich, which contained about 5000 people. Most deeply impressed with a sense of the infinite importance of this charge, and of his own insufficiency for the same, he wrote the following effusions of his heart:

“Oh God, take away the veil from my eyes and from my heart! Darkness is around me. Oli may I hear that word: “Let there be light!" Oh thou, who alone knowest me, how shall I know thee? How shall I teach others to know thee? Oh thou divine Omnipotence, draw near to help me in my extreme weakness! Oh thou divine Love, unveil thyself to my waiting soul! I am thine: let me feel it, feel it anew, feel it continually, that I belong to thee, in a much higher sense than to any one else. Have I not deserved the confidence of my congregation as yet? Oh let me deserve it in future by godly sinplicity, and the most faithful discharge of my duty! Let a sense of thy presence everywhere accompany me! Be near me when in business or retirement, when at work or at rest! Hide the days that are past ! - let the iniquities of my former life be banished from thy presence! Hitherto, thou hast led me with as much wisdom as mercy; and, I trust, thou wilt lead me to-day, to-morrow, and so on, till my dear friends may be enabled to say at my dying bed, 'He has overcome !"

Very few ministers can be found, who more constantly and conscientiously officiated, except a few weeks in summer, when the delicate state of his health rendered il necessary for him to take a little excursion into the country. To the instruction of young people and the visitation of the sick, he devoted a considerable portion of his time. Under these circunstances, it is difficult to conceive how it was possible for him to keep up the most extensive correspondence, and to compose 50 many literary and religious works, by which he obtained celebrity, even in foreign parts : but it must be observed, that his time was exceeding precious to him; so that he was continually employed, wishing to redeem the very smallest particle, and not to lose a single moment. Even when at table, some books or papers used to lie neur him; and when taking a walk, which was his constant practice every day, he was always seen reading or writing. In his short excursions to the country, and even when he went to see suine friends in town, his pockets were full of papers; and he used to sit down at the very first table, and continue bis writing. He had, however, the happy talent to suffer himsell continually to be inte rupted, and to keep up the most cheerful conversation ; and yet, at the first leisure moment, he could take up his subject, like one who had not experienced the least interruption. In summer, strangers crowded to see

G2

« VorigeDoorgaan »