Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

life, connected as it was with the political history and the violent controversies of the times. We are more concerned with him as a man of genius, a Christian, and especially as a Christian minister. He entered warmly into the disputes of Episcopalians and monarchists, against the Presbyterians and republicans, taking the side of the former with great zeal and fidelity to bis sovereign. Connected as he thus was with the government, he was of course involved in the frequent reverses of its fortunes, being now the object of favor and patronage, and again of democratic revenge. He was several times imprisoned, and in this we notice one of the causes which led to the formation of his Christian character. He was made early to see the instability of earthly things, and the vanity of dependence upon the great. His trials and sufferings softened his character, and fitted him to weep with those that weep. His wife died early with an infant son whom he had named William, after his patron, Laud. He was almost entirely dependent for his living upon the benevolence of eminent and wealthy men, in whom indeed he found the delicacy with the magnanimity of true kindness, while without doubt bis sense of dependence induced a pensive and melancholy habit of feeling. But it is this which gives his writings much of their beauty, and his character that lowly and unpretending appearance that wins upon every beholder, and excites a mingled feeling of familiar confidence, and of the respect which is shown to sorrow. His afflictions were greatly sanctified both to his mind and heart. In the midst of his severest trials his genius put forth some of its happiest efforts, and his heart was warmed with its holiest devotion. The following letter was written at a time when he was oppressed with pecuniary difficulties, as we infer from several of

expressions. It is interesting to observe in this and many of his letters to his friends, a great solicitude and watchfulness for their spiritual concerns.

The sentence which we have marked with italics, is an instance, and contains a solemn admonition to one who has recovered from sickness. The conclusion is of the most touching simplicity.

Deare BROTHER,—Thy letter was most welcome to me, bringing the happy news of thy recovery. I had notice of thy danger, but watched for this happy relation, and had layd wayte with Royston to enquire of Mr. Rumbould. I hope I shall not neede to bid thee be carefull for the perfecting thy health, and to be fearful of a relapse. Though I am very much, yet thou thy

self art more concerned in it. But this I will remind thee of, that thou be infinitely [careful] to perform to God those holy promises which I suppose thou didst make in thy sicknesse; and remember what thoughts thou hadst then and bear them along upon thy spirit all thy life-time. For that which was true then is so still

, and the world is really as vain a thing as thou didst then suppose it. I durst not tell thy mother of thy danger, (though I heard of it,) till, at the same time, I told her of thy

recovery. Poore woman! she was troubled and pleased at the same time, but your letter did determine her. I take it kindly that thou hast writt to Bowman. If I had been in condition you should not have beene troubled with it; but, as it is, both thou and I must be content. Thy mother sends her blessing to thee and her little Mally. So doe I, and my prayers to God for you both. Your little cozens are your servants; and I am “ Thy most affectionate and endeared Brother,

“ JER. TAYLOR. “ November 24, 1643.”

In the private history of Taylor, one may see the method which divine Providence frequently takes with a minister, to qualify him for greater usefulness. This is repeated and sore affliction. The human character is not complete in any one, till sanctified affliction has exerted an influence upon it. There is no minor key to the feelings, without affliction. This is a world of such continual liability to sorrow, death, like a great invader, seems to be so entirely unconscious of the private bonds by which his victim is united to the hearts of kindred, it is so often the case that in a garden there is a sepulchre, that no one can understand the feelings of a mourner, which a stranger intermeddleth not with, unless he has himself had the fountains of the great deep broken up, in his own soul. It is not necessary that we should have been in the same circumstances of affliction, in order to sympathize with a mourner; any kind of affliction, which has exerted a proper influence upon the soul, qualifies a man for sympathetic communion with grief. There is hardly any thing more interesting, in the life of Christ, than this: that in all things he was made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful, as well as faithful high priest. “It became Him, by whom are all things, in bringing many sons and daughters to glory," to make Him, who had undertaken their salvation, thoroughly qualified by suffering. The qualification of the man Christ Jesus, to be the friend of suffering humanity, consisted in his enduring, in his own person, every form of sorrow. He, too, had private friendships ; for Jesus loved Mary, and Martha, and their brother Lazarus. In their dwelling, he sought repose and refreshment for his spirit, and when Lazarus died, behold him weeping at his grave! Jesus was a brother; he was also a son—and haying sustained these relations, is eminently qualified to sympathize with an afflicted brother, sister, or child. The scene at the cross, where he looked down upon a weeping mother, is exquisite beyond expression. In all the various relations of life, which are susceptible of disappointment and grief, in all the scenes of human misery, Christ has been our forerunner: that is, He has gone through them before us, and we cannot, therefore, tell him any afiliction, which he cannot, from his own experience, understand. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; and how expressive and beautiful the designation of the Saviour by the prophet-Man of Sorrows! The servant of Christ, therefore, who has seen affliction, and has improved it, is, like his Master, thus far fitted to be successful in the work of administering comfort to the weary and heavy laden of his flock. Sometimes God lays repeated sorrows upon a minister, and he knows not, at the time, why he is thus smitten and afflicted. At last, he finds that it was for the sake of his people, and that the effect of his sorrows, in his own sanctification, has been the spiritual benefit of others. Who can adopt the language of the apostle, in view of this truth, and say, THEREFORE, I ENDURE ALL THINGS FOR THE ELECT'S SAKE, THAT THEY ALSO MAY OBTAIN THE SALVATION WHICH IS IN Christ Jesus, WITH ETERNAL GLORY? It was the language of Christ himself, in reference to his people, “ And for their sakes, I SANCTIFY MYSELF !” Who can love the people of God so much, as to live a holy life, for their sake, and especially, be willing that God should afflict him, if necessary, for their good ? This is the spirit of a Saviour. If any one feels that he is willing thus to endure all things for the elect's sake, and thus drink of the Saviour's cup, and be baptized with his baptism, he is an honored servant, for God will doubtless use him in bringing many sons and daughters unto glory. In this connection, we copy the following letters of Taylor—the first being occasioned by the death of his two children, and the other written to a friend under the same affliction.

“Deare Sır,-I know you will either excuse or acquit, or at least pardon mee that I have so long seemingly neglected to

make a returne to your so kind and friendly letter ; when I shall tell you that I have passed through a great cloud which hath wetted mee deeper than the skin. It hath pleased God to send the small

poxe and fevers among my children ; and I have, since I received your last, buried two sweet, hopeful boyes; and have now but one sonne left, whom I intend, if it please God, to bring up to London before Easter, and then I hope to waite upon you, and by your sweet conversation and other divertisements, if not to alleviate my sorrow, yet, at least, to entertain myself and keep me from too intense and actual thinkings of my trouble. Deare Sir, will you doe so much for mee as to beg my pardon of Mr. Thurland, that I have yet made no returne to him for his so friendly letter and expressions. Sir, you see there is too much matter to make excuse; my sorrow will, at least, render mee an object of every good man's piety and commiseration. But, for myself, I bless God, I have observed and felt so much mercy in this angry dispensation of God, that I am almost transported, I am sure, highly pleased with thinking how infinitely sweet his mercies are when his judgments are so gracious. Sir, there are many particulars in your letter which I would faine have answered; but, still, my little sadnesses intervene, and will yet suffer mee to write nothing else : but that I beg your prayers, and that you will still own me to be,

DearE AND HONOURED Sir,
Your very affectionate friend and hearty servant,

'JER. TAYLOR. 5 Feb. 22, 165 6-7.

“TO JOHN EVELYN, ESQUIRE. “ DEARE SIR,—If dividing and sharing griefes were like the cutting of rivers, I dare say to you, you would find your streame much abated; for I account myselfe to have a great cause of sorrow, not onely in the diminution of the numbers of your joys and hopes, but in the losse of that pretty person, your strangely hopeful boy. I cannot tell all my owne sorrowes without adding to yours; and the causes of my real sadnesss in your losse are so just and so reasonable, that I can no otherwise comfort you but by telling you,

that
you

have very great cause to mourne: so certaine it is that griefe does propagate as fire does.

You have enkindled my funeral torch, and by joining mine to yours, I doe but

Ι encrease the flame. • Hoc me male urit,' is the best signification of my apprehension of your sad story. But, Sir, I cannot choose, but I must hold another and a brighter flame to you, it is already burning in your heart; and if I can but remove the darke side of the lanthorne, you have enoughe within you to warme yourselfe, and to shine to others. Remember, Sir, your two boyes are two bright stares, and their innocence is secured, and you shall never hear evil of them agayne. Their state is safe, and heaven is given to them upon very easy termes; nothing but to be borne and die. It will cost you more trouble to get where they are ; and amongst other things one of the hardnesses will be, that you must overcome even this just and reasonable griefe; and, indeed, though the griefe hath but too reasonable a cause, yet it is much more reasonable that you master it. For besides that they are no loosers, but you are the person that complaines, doe but consider what you would have suffered for their interest : you (would) have suffered them to goe from you, to be great princes in a strange country: and if you can be content to suffer your owne inconvenience for their interest

, you command [commend] your worthiest love, and the question of mourning is at an end. But you have said and done well, when you looke upon it as a rod of God; and he that so smites here will spare hereafter: and if you, by patience and submission, imprint the disciplin upon your own flesh, you kill the cause, and make the effect very tolerable ; because it is, in some sense, chosen, and therefore, in no sense, insufferable. Sir, if you doe not looke to it, time will snatch your honour from you, and reproach you for not effecting that by Christian philosphy which time will doe alone. And if you consider, that of the bravest men in the world, we find the seldomest stories of their children, and the apostles had none, and thousands of the worthiest persons, that sound most in story, died childlesse : you will find it is a rare act of Providence so to impose upon worthy men a necessity of perpetuating their names by worthy actions and discourses, governments and reasonings. If the breach be never repaired, it is because God does not see it fitt to be; and if you will be of his mind, it will be much the better. But, Sir, you will pardon my zeale and passion for your comfort, I will readily confesse that you have no need of any discourse from me to comfort you. Sir, now you have an opportunity of serving God by passive graces; strive to be an example and a comfort to your lady, and by your wise counsel and comfort, stand in the breaches of your owne family, and make it appeare that you are more to her than ten sons. Sir, by the assistance of Almighty God, I purpose to wait on you some time next weeke, that I may be a witnesse of your Christian courage and bravery; and that I may see, that God never displeases you, as long as the main stake is preserved, I mean your hopes and confidences of heaven. Sir, I shall pray for all that you can want, that is, some degrees of comfort and a present mind; and shall alwayes doe you honour, and faine also would doe you service, if it were in the power, as it is in the affections and desires of,

“ DEARE SIR,
“ Your most affectionate and obliged friend and servant,

" Jer, TAYLOR. “Feb. 17, 1657-8."

« VorigeDoorgaan »