Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

THE LAST HOURS OF THE

safer to err on the right hand of charity, than on In September 1769, I learned by letters from Cam. the left hand of strictness and severity. The civil bridge, that he was dangerously ill. I set out for that law gives this rule, “ Always, in donbtful cases, place the day after I received them, and found him as the milder course is to be preferred.””

ill as I expected. He had taken cold on his return from a journey into Wales; and lest he should be laid up at a distance from home, he had pushed forward as fast as he could from Bath with a fever upon him. Soon after

his arrival at Cambridge, he discharged, unknown to REV. JOHN COWPER, A. M.,

himself, such a prodigious quantity of blood, that the Fellow of Ben’et College, Cambridge.

physician ascribed it only to the strength of his con

stitution that he was still alive; and assured me, that The following narrative of the conversion of his bro. if the discharge should be repeated, he must inevitabi; ther from infidelity, is given by William Cowper, Esq., die upon the spot. In this state of imminent danger, author of “ The Task,” &c. :-As soon as it had pleased he seemed to have no more concern about his spiritwa God, after a long and sharp season of conviction, to interests than when in perfect health. His couch was visit me with the consolations of his grace, it became strewed with volumes of plays, to which he had freone of my chief concerns, that my relations might be quent recourse for amusement. I learned indeed aftermade partakers of the saine mercy. In the first letter wards, that, even at this time, the thoughts of God and I wrote to my brother, I took occasion to declare what. eternity would often force themselves upon his mind; God had done for my soul ; and am not conscious, that but not apprehending his life to be in danger, and tru:from that period down to his last illness, I wilfullying in the morality of his past conduct, he found it no neglected an opportunity of engaging him, if it were difficult matter to thrust them out again. possible, in conversation of a spiritual kind. When I As it pleased God that he had no relapse, he presently left St. Alban's, and went to visit him at Cambridge, / began to recover strength, and in ten day's time I lett my heart being full of the subject, I poured it out be- him so far restored, that he had every syınptoru of refore him without reserve; and in all my subsequent turning health. It is probable, however, that thouza intercourse with him, so far as I was enabled, took care his recovery seemed perfect, this illness was the mean to shew that I had received, not merely a set of notions, which God had appointed to bring down his strength, but a real impression of the truths of the Gospel. and to hasten on the inalady which proved his last.

At first, I found him ready enough to talk with me On the 16th of February 1770, I was again summerad upon these subjects ; sometimes he would dispute, but to attend him, by letters which represented him so ill always without heat or animosity, and sometimes would that the physician entertained but little hopes of Ess endeavour to reconcile our sentiments, by supposing recovery. He, however, expressed great joy at seeing that at the bottom we were both of a mind, and meant me, thought himself much better, and seemed to kope the same thing

that he should be well again. My situation at tius He was a man of a most candid and ingenuous spirit; time was truly distressful. I learned from the phys. his temper remarkably sweet; and in his behaviour to cian, that, in this instance, as in the last, he was is me, he had always manifested an uncommon affection. much greater danger than he suspected. He didiet His out ward conduct, so far as it fell under my notice, seem to lay his illness at all to heart, nor could I end or I could learn it by the report of others, was perfectly by his conversation that he had one serious thought. decent and unblameable. There was nothing vicious in As often as a suitable occasion offered, when we kete any part of his practice ; but, being of a studious turn, free from company and interruption, I endeavoured to he placed his chief delight in the acquisition of learn- give a spiritual turn to the discourse; and the day after ing. He was critically skilled in the Latin, Greek, my arrival, asked his permission to pray with bia, to and Hebrew languages; was beginning to make himself which he readily consented. I renewed my atten.pts is master of the Syriac, and perfectly understood the this way as often as I could, though without any apFrench and Italian, the latter of which he could speak parent success : still he seemed as careless and what fluently. These attainments, however, he lived heartily cerned as ever; yet I could not but consider his wide to despise, not as useless when sanctified and employed ingness in this instance as a token for good, and os in the service of God, but when sought after for their served with pleasure, that, though at other times het own sake, and with a view to the praise of men. He discovered no mark of seriousness, yet when I spoke was easy and cheerful in his conversation, and entirely to him of the Lord's dealings with myself he received free from the stiffness which is generally contracted by what I said with affection, would press my hand, and men devoted to such pursuits.

look kindly at me, and seemed to love me better fue Thus we spent about two years, conversing, as occa- it. sion offered, (and we generally visited each other once On the 21st of the same month, he had a violent et or twice a-week, as long as I continued at Huntingdon,) of asthina, which seized him when he rose, abou' a upon the leading truths of the Gospel. By this time, hour before noon, and lasted all the day. His age he began to be more reserved; he would hear me pa- was dreadful. Having never seen any person atlice tiently, but never reply; and this I found, upon his the same way, I could not help fearing that he woulie own confession afterward, was the effect of a resolution suffocated; nor was the physician bimself without fez? he had taken in order to avoid disputes, and to secure of the same kind. This day the Lord was very present the continuance of that peace which had always sub- with me, and enabled me, as I sat by the poor sutiert's sisted between us. When our family removed to Olney, side, to wrestle for a blessing upon him. I observer our intercourse became less frequent. We exchanged him, that though it had pleased God to visit him . an annual visit, and, whenever he came among us, he great aftlictions, yet merey was mingled with the woman observed the same conduct, conforming to all our cus- pensation. I said, "you have many friends, who love toms, attending family worship with us, and receiving you, and are willing to do all they can to serve you: civilly whatever passed in conversation upon the sub- so perhaps have others in the like circumstances; ject, but adhering strictly to the rule he had prescribed it is not the lot of every sick man, how much sue Fer be to himself, never remarking upon any thing he heard or may be beloved, to have a friend that can pray for biti

This, through the goodness of his natural temper, He replied, “ that is true, and I hope God will have he was enabled to carry so far, that though some things mercy upon me.". His love for me from this time to unavoidably happened, which we feared would give him came very remarkable; there was a tenderness in it offence, he never took any.

more than was merely natural; and he generaliy es

sa w.

[ocr errors]

pressed it by calling for blessings upon me in the most | thy to unloose the seals, had opened the book to me, allectionate terms, and with a look and manner not to I had been blinded still. Now they appear so plain, that be described.

though I am convinced no comment could ever have Through the whole of this most painful dispensation made ine understand them, I wonder I did not see them he was blesi with a degree of resignation to the will before. Yet, great as my doubts and difficulties were, of God, not always seen in the behaviour of established they have only served to pave the way; and, being Christians under sufferings so great as his. I never solved, they make it plainer. The light I have received heard a murmuring word escape hiin; on the contrary, comes late, but it is a comfort to me that I never made he would often say, when his pains were most acute, the Gospel truths a subject of ridicule. Though I dis. " I only wish it may please God to enable me to suffer sented from the persuasion and the ways of God's peowithout complaining : I have no right to complain.” ple, I ever thought them respectable, and therefore not Once be said, with a loud voice, “Let thy rod and thy proper to be made a jest of. The evil I suffer is the constaff support and comfort me: and, oh, that it were sequence of my descent from the corrupt original stock, with me as in times past, when the candle of the Lord and of my own personal transgressions ; the good I enshone upon my tabernacle!" One evening, when I had joy comes to me as the overflowing of his bounty; but, been expressing my hope that the Lord would show hin the crown of all his mercies is this, that he has given mercy, he replied, “I hope he will; I am sure I pre- me a Saviour; and not only the Saviour of mankind, tend to nothing. Many times he spoke of himself in brother, but my Saviour. terns of the greatest self-abasement. I thought I could “ I should delight to see the people of Olney, but am discern, in these expressions, the glimpses of approach- not worthy to appear among them.” He wept at speaking day; and have no doubt but that the Spirit of God ing these words, and repeated them with emphasis. “I was gradually preparing bim, in a way of true humilia- should rejoice in an hour's conversation with Mr Newtion, for that bright display of Gospel grace which he ton; and, if I live, shall have much discourse with him Was soon after pleased to afford him.

upon these subjects; but I am so weak in body, that at On Saturday the 10th of March, about three in the present I could not bear it." Efternoon, he suddenly burst into tears, and said, with a At the same time he gave me to understand, that he luud cry, “ Oh, forsake me not !” I went to his bed- had been five years inquiring after the truth; that is, side, when he grasped my band, and presently, by his from the time of my first visit to him after I left St. eyes and countenance, I found that he was in prayer. Albans; and that, from the very day of his ordination, Then, turning to me, he said, “ Oh, brother, I am full which was ten years ago, he had been dissatisfied with of what I could say to you." The nurse asked him if his own views of the Gospel, and sensible of their dehe would have any hartshorn or lavender. He replied, fect and obscurity ; that he had always had a sense of * None of these things will serve my purpose. I said, the importance of the ministerial charge, and had used But I know what would, my dear; don't I?” He to consider himself accountable for his doctrine no less answered, “ You do, brother.

than his practice; and that he could appeal to the Lord Having continued some time silent, he said, “Bebold, for his sincerity in all that time, and had never wilfully I create new heavens and a new earth.” Then, after a erred, but always been desirous of coming to the knowpause, “Aye, and he is able to do it.”

ledge of the truth. He added, that the moment when I left him for about an hour, fearing lest he should he sent forth that cry, was the moment when light was fatigue hi:nself with talking, and because my surprise darted into his soul; that he had thought much about and joy were so great, that I could hardly bear them. these things in the course of his illness, but never till when I returned, he threw his arms about my neck, that instant was able to understand them. and leaning his head against mine, he said,—“ Brother, It was remarkable, that, from the very instant when if I live, you and I shall be more like one another than he was first enlightened, he was also wonderfully We have been. But, whether I live or not, all is well, strengthened in body, so that from the 10th to the 14th and will be so; I know it will; I have felt that which of March, we all entertained hopes of his recovery. He I never felt before, and am sure that God bas visited was himself very sanguine in his expectations of it, but ine with this sickness, to teach me what I was too proud frequently said, that his desire of recovery extended no to learn in health. I never had satisfaction till now. farther than his hope of usefulness; adding, Unless The doctrines I had been used to, referred me to my- I may live to be an instrument of good to others, it were SELF for the foundation of my hopes, and there I could better for me to die now. ind nothing to rest upon, The sheet anchor of the soul As his assurance was clear and unshaken, so he was was wanting. I thought you wrong, yet wished to be very sensible of the goodness of the Lord to him in lieve as you did. I found myself unable to believe, yet that respect. On the day when his eyes were opened, always thought that I should one day be brought to do he turned to me, and in a low voice said,

" What a 20. You suffered more than I have done before you mercy it is to a man in my condition to know his acbelieved these truths; but our sufferings, though differ- ceptance ! I am completely satisfied of mine." tuit in their kind and measure, were directed to the other occasion, speaking to the same purpose, be said, same end. I hope he has taught me that which he “ This bed would be a bed of misery, and it is so; but eaches none but his own. I hope so. These things it is likewise a bed of joy and a bed of discipline. *tre foolishness to me once, but now I have a firm Were I to die this night, I know I should be happy. foundation, and am satisfied."

This assurance I hope is quite consistent with the Word In the evening, when I went to bid him goodnight, of God. It is built upon a sense of my own utter inbe looked stedfastly in my face, and, with great solem- sufficiency and the all-sufficiency of Christ.” At the laty in his air and manner, taking me by the hand, re- same time he said, “ Brother, I have been building my samed the discourse in these very words: “As empty, glory upon a sandy foundation; I have laboured night nd yet full; as having nothing, and yet possessing all and day to perfect myself in things of no profit; I have iknings-I see the rock upon which I once split, and I saerificed my health to these pursuits, and am now sufte the rock of my salvation ; I have peace in myself; fering the consequence of my misspent labour. But nd, if I live, I hope it will be, that I may be made a how contemptible do the writers 1 once highly valued Dessenger of peace to others. I have learned that in a now appear to me!' Yea, doubtless, I count all things woneni, which I could not have learned by reading loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of hany books for many years. I have often studied these Christ Jesus my Lord.' I must now go to a new oints, and studied them with great attention, but was school. I have many things to learn. I succeeded in Llinded by prejudice ; and, unless he who alone is wor- my former pursuits. I wanted to be highly applauded;

On an

[ocr errors]

ain,

and I was so. I was flattered up to the height of my | paired, and the Comforter withholding for a season bis wishes; now, I must learn a new lesson."

sensible support, he was betrayed into a fretfulness On the evening of the 13th he said, “ What comfort impatience of spirit which had never been permitted to have I in this bed, miserable as I seem to be! Brother, shew itself before. This appearance alarmed me; and, I love to look at you. I see now who was right, and having an opportunity afforded me by every one's who was mistaken. But it seems wonderful that such sence, I said to him, “You were happier last Saturday a dispensation should be necessary to enforce what than you are to-day. Are you entirely destitute d the seems so very plain. I wish myself at Olney; you consolations you then spoke of? And do you not seehave a good 'river there, better than all the rivers of times feel comfort flowing into your heart from a sise Damascus. What a scene is passing before me! Ideas of your acceptance with God?" He replied, “Sometinis upon those subjects crowd upon me faster than I can I do, but sometimes I am left to desperation.” give them utterance. How plain do many texts appear, same day in the evening, he said, “ Brother, I believe to which, after consulting all the commentators, I could you are often uneasy, lest what lately passed should come hardly aflix a meaning! Now I have their true mean- to nothing." I replied by asking him, " Whether, when ing without any comment at all. There is but one key he found his patience and his temper fail, he endeavou. to the New Testament; there is but one interpreter. ed to pray for power against his corruptions?” He aaI cannot describe to you, nor shall ever be able to des- swered, “ Yes, a thousand times in a day. But I see cribe, what I felt in the moment when it was given to myself odiously vile and wicked. If I die in this illness, me. May we make a good use of it! How I shudder I beg you will place no other inscription over me than when I think of the danger I have just escaped! I such as may just mention my name, and the parish where had made up my mind upon these subjects, and was I was minister; for that I ever had a being, and what determined to hazard all upon the justness of my own sort of a being I had, cannot be too soon forgotten. I opinions.

was just beginning to be a deist, and had long desired to His remarkable amendment soon appeared to be no be so; and I will own to you what I never confessed be more than a present suppiy of strength and spirits, that fore, that my function and the duties of it were a waz: he might be able to speak of the better life which God riness to me which I could not bear. Yet, wretched had given him; which was no sooner done than he re- creature, and beast as I was, I was esteemed religioas, lapsed as suddenly as he had revived. His experience though I lived without God in the world." About to's was rather peace than joy, if a distinction may be made time, I reminded him of the account of Janeway, which between joy, and that heart-felt peace which he often he once read at my desire. He said he had laughed *: spoke of in the most comfortable terms, and which he it in his own mind, and accounted it mere madness and expressed by a heavenly smile upon his countenance folly; Yet, base as I ” said he, “ I have no dude under the bitterest bodily distress. His words upon now but God has accepted me also, and forgiven De 1 this subject once were these,-- “ How wonderful is it my sins.' that God should look upon man, especially that he I then asked him what he thought of my

narrativa! should look upon me! Yet he sees me, and takes no- He replied, “ I thought it strange, and ascribed as tice of all that I suffer. I see him too; he is present of it to the state in which you had been in. When I before me, and I hear him say, Come unto me all ye came to visit you in London, and found you in the that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you deep distress, I would have given the universe to bare rest.'”—(Matt. xi. 28.) On the 14th, in the afternoon, administered some comfort to you. You may remercier I perceived that the strength and spirits which had been that I tried every method of doing it. When I found afforded him were suddenly withdrawn, so that by the that all my attempts were vain, I was shocked to the next day his mind became weak, and his speech roving greatest degree. I began to consider your sufferings at and faltering. But still, at intervals, he was enabled a judgment upon you, and my inability to obviate thea to speak of divine things with great force and clearness. as a judgment upon myself. When Mr M. came, On the evening of the 15th, he said,

** * There is more succeeded in a moment. This surprised me; but it joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over does not surprise me now. He had the key to o ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance.' heart, which I had not.” That text has been sadly misunderstood by me, as well There is that in the nature of salvation by gate, as by others. Where is that just person to be found ? when it is truly and experimentally known, which Alas! what must have become of me, if I had died this prompts every person to think himself the most es-> day sc’ennight? What should I have had to plead ? My ordinary instance of its power. Accordingly, my bep own righteousness! That would have been of no great ther insisted upon the precedence in this respect

, sah, service to me, to be sure! Well, whither next? Why, upon comparing his case with mine, would by no mea to the mountains to fall upon us, and to the hills to cover allow my deliverance to have been so wonderful as it I am not duly thankful for the mercy I have re

He observed, that " from the beginning, bd ceived. Perhaps I may ascribe some part of my insen- | his manner of life and his connections had been sued as sibility to my great weakness of body. I hope, at least, had a natural tendency to blind his eyes, and to that, if I was better in health, it would be better with and rivet his prejudices against the truth.” Blactics me in those respects also.”

in his outward conduct, and having no open immorza! The next day, perceiving that his understanding be- to charge himself with, his acquaintance had been the gan to suffer by the extreme weakness of his body, he men of the same stamp, who trusted in themselves said, “ I have been vain of my understanding and of my they were righteous, and despised the doctrines of 13 acquirements in this place; and now God has made me Such were all whom from his earliest days be little better than an idiot; as much as to say, Now, be had proposed to himself as patterns for his imitatio proud if you can. Well, while I have any senses left, As long as he expected to recover, the souls (1 my thoughts will be poured out in the praise of God. mitted to his care were much upon his mind. One ch I have an interest in Christ, in his blood and sufferings, when none was present but myself, he prayed this and my sins are forgiven me. Have I not cause to O Lord, Thou art good; goodness is thy very essa'. praise him? When my understanding fails me quite, as and thou art the fountain of wisdom. 'I an a press I think it will soon, then he will pity my weakness." worm, weak and foolish as a child. Thou hast intime

Though the Lord intended that his warfare should be ed many souls unto me; and I have not been able su short, yet a warfare he was to have, and to be exposed teach them, because I knew thee not mysell. Grasse to a measure of conflict with his own corruptions. His me ability, O Lord, for I can do nothing without Ther, pain being extreme, his powers of recollection much im- and give me grace to be faithful."

[ocr errors]

own.

cross.

In a time of severe and continual pain, he smiled, and vours to remain wilfully ignorant of many awakening said_“ Brother, I am as happy as a king.' And the truths with which he ought to be familiar, and to smoday before he died, when I asked him what sort of a ther many a rising conviction whicre conscience ought night he had had, he replied, “a sad night, not a wink rather to be encouraged to do its office : but sadly must of sleep.” I said, “perhaps, though, your mind has he rue such success amid the solemnities of that searchbeen composed, and you have been enabled to pray.' ing day on which there will be no room for trifling, or “Yes," said he, “I have endeavoured to spend the for subterfuge. hours in the thoughts of God and prayer; I have been The opposite extreme, in reference to things which much comforted, and all the comfort I got, came to me engage men's attention, is that of being taken up with in this way.”

things which concern them not at all, or very little. The next morning, I was called up to be witness of Though the evil bere may not be quite so direct and his last moments. I found him in a deep sleep, lying imminent as in the other case, it is, nevertheless, very perfectly still, and seemingly free from pain. I staid great. To be cccupied with things, either trilling in with him till they pressed me to quit the room, and in themselves, or foreign to us, must be hurtful, as it must about five minutes after I had left him he died; sooner divert our minds from what is useful, and thus interfere indeed than I expected, though for some days there bad with personal piety. This is, in fact, one principal cause been no hopes of his recovery. His death at that time why some persons, even in the midst of much discuswas rather extraordinary; at least I thought so; for, sion, continue altogether unimpressed, and why others, when I took leave of him the night before, he did not who are truly serious, do not attain to a far higher deseem worse or weaker than he had been, and, for aught gree of experimental, practical, and consolatory religion. that appeared, might have lasted many days; but the While there are some inquiries which are altogether imLord cut short his sufferings, and gave him a speedy proper, there are many which are of little importance. and peaceful departure.

There are many subjects of thought, which are lawful, He died at seven in the morning, on the 20th of and even useful, when kept in their own place, but March, 1770.

which become vain and ruinous when engaged in and Thou art the source and centre of all minds,

pursued with a keenness disproportionate to their value, Their only point of rest, ETERNAL WORD!

and when they are suffered to engross the mind, and to From Thee departing, they are lost, and rove At random, without honour, hope, or peace.

usurp the place of those things which are essential to From THEB is all that soothes the life of man,

our safety, comfort, and holiness. Many inquiries, also, His high endeavour and his glad success, His strength to suffer, and his will to serve,

have been raised, which either can never be determined, But, oh! Thou bounteous Giver of all good,

or which, if they were determined, would be of little Thou art of all thy gifts Thyself the Crown. Give what thou canst, without Thee we are poor,

or no advantage, perhaps even detrimental to us. And with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away.

The evil of vain curiosity, and of indeterminable and useless speculations, shews itself in many departments of

human thought. In the sequel of this paper we shall ON THE EVIL OF

endeavour to trace it a short way, in the attempts often VAIN CURIOSITY, AND INDETERMINABLE made to settle certain points more positively and cirAND USELESS SPECULATIONS.

cumstantially than they are settled in Scripture.

For example, many questions have been keenly agi. No. I.

tated respecting the manner of the existence of the BY THE Rev. James Foote, A. M.,

Deity, and especially his existing in three Persons—a

subject which seems to be quite beyond the reach of our Minister of the East Parish of Aberdeen.

faculties, and of which, therefore, there is very wisely ee proneness of mankind to run into extremes, which no explanation in the Word of God. The attempt to as often been made the subject of remark and of re- define here what Scripture has not defined, has very ret, is in few respects more common, or more burtful, unnecessarily distracted the Church, and very materially 1971 in respect of those things which engage, or ought impeded the good effect which what is clearly revealed engage their close attention. Here the extreme on was calculated to produce. The attempt is surely vain. e one hand is, when men either refuse, or neglect, to Can finite fathom infinite? Can the creature compreterest themselves in those objects which really belong | hend the Creator ? “ Canst thou by searching find out them. “I care not,

“I shall give myself no God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfecpuble about the matter,

“ That is no concern of tion? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper ne;"—these are expressions often dictated by the than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereost culpable inattention to personal interest, or by the of is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. ist selfish indifference to the welfare of others. It | We may be certain, that what of himself the Almighty vain, however, for a man to imagine, that because has been pleased to conceal, is not necessary for us to chooses to shut his eyes to the sight, or his cars to know. He has revealed himself to us sufficiently in the face sound of what is irksome to him, he therefore breaks of Jesus Christ. Enough is known even of the sublime naturally subsisting relations, and ceases to be ac- doctrine of the Trinity. It is taught rather in a practimtable for consequences. Did the first murderer do cal than theoretical form; and that, no doubt, with the II, or wisely, in endeavouring to shift off all investiga- wise and gracious intention of diverting us from recon

into the deed which lay heavier than a weight of dite and interminable speculations, that fixing our minds on his conscience? And had he really no concern on what is said respecting the part which each of the Abel's fate, because, in answer to a question which divine Persons performs in the plan of salvation, we ought to have met in a very different spirit, he re- may have access through the Son, by one Spirit, unto d, in the pride and stubbornness of his heart, “. Am the Father, and may experimentally know the grace of y brother's keeper ? ” Or, had the Jewish priests our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the com

elders, who concocted and accomplished the con- munion of the Holy Ghost. anation and crucifixion of the Lord of Glory, nothing Many questions of apparently insurmountable disnswer for, because when the hireling tool of their culty, and little practical utility, have also been agitated city cried out, in the bitterness of remorse, “ I have respecting the works of God." We do not here allude ed in that I have betrayed the innocent blood,' even to the speculations of science properly so called, far

chose to say, with an air of indifference, “What less to those investigations which are conducted in a judi. hat to us? sce thou to that. It is quite possible cious and solid manner: for God having left such subjects a man to succeed, in a great measure, in his endea- to be prosecuted by reason, assisted only by ordinary

92

[ocr errors]

providential direction, in a way distinct from revelation, great evil of an erroneous conscience, and the necessity no one is entitled either to say how far reason may suc- of having our understandings well enlightened in the ceed in discoveries within its own proper sphere, or to path of duty, lest while we imagine we are signalizing affirm that any of its discoveries will ultimately prove ourselves for devotedness to the Lord, we be only altogether useless. But we ought not to confound such blindly sinning against him, and creating to ourselves inquiries with what is purely religious, nor confer on cause of future shame and contrition. them that importance, in reference to religion, which Did Judas partake of the Lord's Supper ? This

, ter, belongs to topics altogether different. With respect, is a question which divides commentators, which orma for instance, to the great work of creation, volumes of sionally engages the attention of most Christians, wide bypotheses and of theory have been written, which, it might indeed be desirable to set completely at rex, though affording some entertainment to persons of a but on which it is very probable that men will still mo, peculiarly studions turn, are by no means to be recom- tinue to think differently. And yet, how little dry mended with a view to general religious edification. this dispute concern us, in comparison with whe, in Did the earth exist very long before it was reduced to reference both to Judas and to the communion, is ir. its present condition?' If it did, in what state, and controvertible! To whatever conclusion we may corre for what period ? What was the exact import of its as to this particular point, our conclusion will invokse being “ without form and void ?" By what process was other things of far greater importance. If we think it brought into its present form ? How was there light that Judas did communicate, we should be filled wih before the sun was created? What was the length of horror at his hypocrisy and presumption, and be led to the six days, and how were they measured ? On these examine ourselves, lest coming unworthily, we eat a and many similar questions men may entertain their drink judgment to ourselves : if we think he did not own. opinions ; but it will be in vain to search for a de communicate, we should pity the traitor whose con. finite solution of them in the Word of God. What Moses science forced him to retire, and we should see that wa las written is brief, and calculated, not to satisfy the ourselves be the real disciples of Jesus, in order to c: curiosity of philosophers, but to convey to every reader, worthily and comfortably professing ourselves to be so whether learned or illiterate, some general ideas of the at his table. subject, and some practical conviction of the skill and We are told that “the graves were opened, and mpower of the Creator. Enough is plain to teach the bodies of the saints who slept arose, and came out of the dullest observer, that the heavens declare the glory of graves after Christ's resurrection, and went into : God, and that the firmament sheweth forth his

holy city, and appeared unto many." But as to w work: enough is plain to lead every serious inquirer to these saints were,—who the particular persons were : fall down before the mighty Maker, and to exclaim, whom they appeared,-- what account they gave of the “ ( Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom state of the dead, what was their history after war hast thou made them all."

--whether they returned to their graves almost 10.• There have been several laboured discussions re. diately, or lived long on earth and then died, or wes specting the situation of the garden of Eden. It has translated to heaven: these are points on which se been sought for in Syria, in Armenia, in Palestine, in might feel disposed to come to some fixed concur, Chaldea, in India, in Ceylon, in China, in short, in but from which the silence of scripture rather reuk? almost every part of the East. But what is that to us to turn away, that we may not overlook the 12 r. us ? Surely it will prove more for our beneft to be more important considerations, that these were so mu" properly affected by the unquestionable and melancholy present trophies of the victory gained by the Recer : fact, that wherever Paradise was, it is Paradise lost to in his death and resurrection, so many proofs tbs':'

Driven out by the angel's faming sword, banished his followers shall be raised up in honour at last, ". from the face of the Lord God, and exposed to misery so many encouragements to us to trust in and chips and death, instead of looking for the spot where once him now, that when he who is our life shall appear, we bloomed the flowers of Eden, instead of searching for also may appear with him in glory. the abode of that terrestrial bliss which is gone for ever, That the souls of believers pass into hearen inn.de let us be thankful that we have heard of Him who camely after death is plainly revealed; but if we attempt to restore man to greater glory than that from which he describe how souls can act and communicate their lá. . fell ; let us give no sleep to our eyes, nor slumber to to each other in a state of separation from the buds, our eyelids, till we regain the forfeited favour of our meet with many difficulties which neither resen? Maker; and let it be our main business to prepare for Scripture enables us to solve. More real good, benthat far bappier Eden, where lurks no cunning tempter, ever, may be derived from a proper consideration in the and where grows no noxious fruit, but, where having general fact, than could flow from the solution of a overcome by the blood of the Lamb, we shall walk in of our particular dificulties. Rather than lose ours is garments of white, and eat of the tree of life, which is in metaphysical subtleties, let us reflect ;-howneyes in the midst of the Paradise of God.

that immaterial principle which survives the dissoles That Jephthah " did with his daughter according to of the body, and which ever continues intelligent, his vow," cannot be questioned, for the Scriptures ex- gorous, and active! How unworthy of immortal be pressly declare it. But whether, as is the more com- to be deterred from pursuing what is right, by the leading mon opinion, she was actually put to death, or whether, of them that can kill the body, but who after that by as the law allowed the redemption of a devoted person no more that they can do ! * What is a man pertinent for ten shekels of silver, she was thus redeemed, and if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own then devoted to perpetual celibacy and the service of or what shall a man give in exehange for bis seu God, is a question which has been much agitated. And To think, that on the dissolution of the invster:ous 44*** yet, on both suppositions, the history affords much in nection between a good man's soul and body, th: 5 struction. In either way, the vow was rash and un- ment his soul is ushered in to all the joys of beurre lawful, and bound Jephthah to nothing but repentance; what more calculated to rouse us to immediate i** and if death was the result, a horrid crime was perpe- cern, to urge us forth with to receive the Gospel, to :2 trated. Jephthah certainly had such faith as enabled spire us with diligence in duty and fortitude in tra!? him to achieve a great victory; and he also probably in a word, to lead us to make sure of this grand; had some real religion. But this was a dismal blot in that when absent from the body we shall be process his history, arising probably from the rude manner of with the Lord ? It is true that, in answer to si his early life, which admitted of his receiving only very objections of infidels, the general resurrection may be imperfect. instruction; and it ought to teach us the shown to be possible and credible, nay, that it must be

us.

« VorigeDoorgaan »