Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

prayers for mine, and you may expect a return in the same kind." In another letter, he says, “We have now three sons and two daughters; whose young minds, as they open, I am endeavouring to cultivate with my own hand, unwilling to trust them to a stranger; and I find the business of education much more difficult than I expected. My dear little creatures sob, and drop a tear now and then, under my instructions, but I am not so happy as to see them under deep and lasting impressions of religion; and this is the greatest grief they afford me. Grace cannot be communicated by natural descent; and, if it could, they would receive but little from me."

Few have had a higher relish for friendship, than Mr. Davies. Few have better understood its delicacies, or more faithfully and judiciously discharged its duties. These and various other parts of his character, are agreeably unfolded in the following letter, written in the year 1751.

"My very dear friend, "I redeem a few nocturnal hours to breathe out my benevolent wishes for you, and to assure you of my peculiar regards. Human life is extremely precarious and uncertain; and, perhaps, at your return, I may be above the reach of your correspondence ; or, perhaps, your voyage may end on the eternal shore. I, therefore, write to you, dear Sir, in the last agonies of friendship, if I may use the expression. If, upon your return, you only hear my worthless name tost from tongue to tongue, and find this system of clay that now breathes, and

moves, and writes, mouldering into its native element, you may safely indulge this reflection: "Well, once I had a friend; a friend, whose affection could find room for me in his retired importunities for mercy at the throne of grace, when his own wants were so numerous and great, that they might have engrossed all his concern." Or, if I am doomed to survive you, shall have the melancholy satisfaction to reflect, "My friend did not live without such assur. ances of my tender affection as might engage his confidence in my useless friendship."

"And now, when I feel the soft emotions of friendship, and speak of the final period of this mortal state, I cannot restrain myself from intermixing some of the solemnities of religion. We shall have an interview beyond the grave, though we should never converse more beneath the skies, in the low language of mortals. But, oh! on what happy, or on what dismal coast shall we meet? On the verdant plains of the celestial paradise, or in the dreary regions of horror and despair? The human mind is incapable of forming a more important inquiry; and if the hurries or amusements of this infant state of things can banish it from our minds, we have forfeited the character of rational creatures; we are as really, and more perniciously mad than any wretch in bedlam, though we are not stigmatized as such by the world, who are seized with the same delirium. The valley of the shadow of death appears frequently gloomy and tremendous to me; but, it is in those up.

[ocr errors]

happy hours, when my views of the glorious method of salvation through a mediator appear in an obscure light, and my complacence in it is wavering or languid when the fervour of devotion is abated, and my soul is lulled asleep in a carnal security but my mind cannot rest under this uncertainty: it is too important a matter to make an implicit venture in. Oh! Sir, an eternity of consunmate happiness! An eternity of the most intolerable misery! My mind sinks beneath the unwieldy thought, and I cannot finish the sentence! If I am mistaken in this, if I form to myself some easy scheme of religion that may suit the humour of this world well enough, but will not obtain the approbation of the supreme Judge, then my reason is a pernicious superfluity, my very being an eternal curse; Wo is me, my mother, that thou didst bear me. But, in those joyful hours, when I can rest my guilty soul on an all-sufficient Redeemer with all the humble confidence of a confirmed faith; when I can read the evidences of regenerating grace upon my heart; when I can recollect the solemn transactions between God and my soul, and renew them in the most voluntary dedication of myself, and all I am and have, to him, through the blessed Mediator; then immortality is a glorious prospect; the grizzly phantom, death, is disarmed of all its horrors, and, with the inviting mildness of an angel, charms me into its cold embraces. Then the mortal pale, the dying cold, the quivering lips, the falling jaws, and all the grim attendants of the last

agony, carry nothing terrible in them.

"Clasp'd in my heavenly Father's

arms

I would resign my fleeting breath; And lose my life amid the charms Of so divine and blest a death."

"Dear, dear Sir, I have opened to you some of my senti ments on experimental religion, and, you know, we unhappily differ upon sundry points relat ing to it. Our differences on many other points, and sundry of them even with respect to this, have but a very remote connexion with everlasting salvation; and, no doubt, multitudes arrive in the same heaven, who are tenacious of different sides. But that thorough change of heart, usually denominated regeneration; that distressing conviction of our undone condition by sin, and utter inability to relieve ourselves by virtue of that strength common to man. kind in general; that humble acceptance of Christ as our only Saviour and Lord, by a faith of divine operation, that humbling sense of the corruption of hu man nature, and eager pursuit and practice of universal holi ness, which I have, I believe, mentioned in conversation and my letters, appear to me of ab solute necessity.

"I should be glad you would read the second and third of Dr, Doddridge's Sermons on Regeneration, which, I think, give a very just and rational account of that important change. I would not venture my soul on a religion short of this for ten thousand worlds, and I am inex pressibly anxious, (pardon the perhaps needless anxiety of my love) lest you should fatally mis

[ocr errors]

take here. My anxiety is heightened when I consider your favourite authors. Tillotson's and Sherlock's works, the Whole Duty of Man, and such authors, are truly valuable in their place, and handle many points to peculiar advantage; but if I know any thing of experimental Christianity, they treat of it very superficially, and, I think, in their most obvious sense, tend to mislead us in sundry things of great importance relating to it, not so much by asserting false doctrines, as by omitting sundry branches of it absolutely necessary. I have examined the matter with some care; and I am sure their delineation of Christianity is not an exact copy of what I must experience before I can see the Lord I must indeed come up to their account of it; but I must not rest there; there is a necessity of experiencing something farther than they generally inculcate. The same thing I would inoffensively observe with respect to all the sermons I have heard in Virginia from the established clergy. Hence, by the by, you may see the peculiar safety of my scheme; if their scheme of religion be sufficient, I am as safe as they, since mine includes it; but if it should prove essentially defective, then you see where the advantage lies. This difference is not at all owing to their being of the church of England, for many of that church agree with me; and many Presbyterians with them; but it is owing to their imbibing the modern divinity, which, like a pernicious leaven, has diffused itself among all denominations : and however confidently some

assert it, I could not embrace it without wilfully throwing myself into ruin.

"You know, Sir, what use I would have you make of these hints; and I am confident you will pardon the affectionate solicitude for you, which prompts me to them. I speak solemnly, dear Sir, solemnly as in the presence of God, and not with the contradictious spirit of a disputant. Of all the systems of practical religion, which have come under my examination, I have endeavoured to choose the most sure as the foundation of my hopes; and I should show a guilty and unfriendly indifference about your immortal interests, should I not recommend it to you, and caution you against those that appear insufficient. It matters little to me whether you use the ceremonial peculiarities of the church of England, or not; as I know they have but little concern with experimental religion but our notions of the substance of vital piety ought to be well examined, and impartially formed; as a mistake here may be of pernicious consequences. But I must desist. May almighty grace prepare you for a glorious immortality! May divine Providence be your guardian through the dangers of the boisterous ocean!

"May He, whose nod the hurricanes and storms,

And blustering waves in all their dreadful forms,

With calm adoring reverence obey: May He with friendly vigilance preside O'er the outrageous winds and boist'rous tide,

And safe thro' crowds of deaths conduct your dang'rous way!

"I commit two letters to your care, one to Dr. Doddridge, and

one to Mr. Mauduit. Upon your arrival in London, please to write a few lines along with mine to Dr. Doddridge, informing him where to find you, that he may commit his answer to your care.

"And now, dear Sir, with affectionate salutations to your family, my whole self wishes you a most hearty farewel.”

The ardent and active mind of Mr. Davies entered with a lively interest into the concerns of his country. Her prosperity and honour, her sufferings and her wrongs, he regarded as his own. During that gloomy period when the French and Indians were ravaging the frontiers of Virginia, and when a general listlessness and inactivity seemed to have seized the people, he exerted all his faculties to rouse a spirit of resistance. The sermons, which he preached for this purpose, exhibit him to great advantage as a Christian patriot.

(To be continued.)

THE father of Mrs. Steele was a dissenting minister, a man of primitive piety, the strictest integrity and benevolence, and the most amiable simplicity of manners. He was for many years the affectionate and faithful pastor of an affectionate congregation at Broughton in Hampshire, where he lived all his days greatly beloved, and died universally lamented. Mrs. Anne Steele, his eldest daughter, discovered in early life her love of the muses, and often entertained her friends with the truly poetical and pious productions of her pen but it was not without extreme reluctance she was prevailed on to submit any of them to the public eye. It was her infelicity, as it has been of many of her kindred spirits, to have a capacious soaring mind enclosed in a very weak and languid body. Her health was never firm, but the death of her honoured father, to whom she was united by the strongest ties of affectionate duty and gratitude, gave such a shock to her feeble frame, that she never entirely recovered it, though she survived him some years.

MRS. ANNE STEELE.

THE writings of this amiable and excellent lady have endeared her memory to every pious Christian, who has read them. Her Hymns, selected by Dr. Belknap, are among the best in his Collection. There are many others in her "Miscellaneous Pieces," of equal excellence, not generally known in this country, with which we shail occasionally enrich the poetic department of the Panoplist. We feel confident that we shall gratify our readers by presenting them with the following biographical account of Mrs. Steele, drawn up by Dr. EVANS of Bristol, and prefixed to a volume of her Miscellaneous Pieces.

EDITORS.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

greater activity. The duties of friendship and religion occupied her time, and the pleasures of both constituted her delight. Her heart was apt to feel too often to a degree too painful for her own felicity, but always with the most tender and generous sympathies for her friends. Yet united with this exquisite sensibility she possessed a native cheerfulness of disposition, which

not even the uncommon and agonizing pains she endured in deprive her of. In every short the latter part of her life could interval of abated sufferings, she would, in a variety of ways, as well as by her enlivening conversation, give pleasure to all around her. Her life was a life of unaffected humility, warm benevolence, sincere friendship and genuine devotion. A life which is not easy truly to describe, or faithfully to imitate.

Having been confined to her chamber some years before her death, she had long waited with Christian dignity for the awful hour of her departure. She often spoke, not merely with tranquillity, but joy of her decease. When the interesting hour came, she welcomed its arrival, and though her feeble body was ex◄ cruciated with pain, her mind was perfectly serene. She uttered not a murmuring word, but was all resignation, peace, and holy joy. She took the most affectionate leave of her weeping friends around her, and at length, the happy moment of her dismission arriving, she closed her eyes, and with these animating words on her dying lips, I know that my Redeemer liveth, gently fell asleep in Jesus.

« VorigeDoorgaan »