Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

YOUTH, like every other period of life, has peculiar temptations and needs peculiar cautions. It is a season of inexperience, of high hopes, and pleasing anticipations-a season of restlessness and rash adventure. The passions are ardent; the imagination vivid, excursive, and untractable; the mind, often precipitate, and scarcely able to brook salutary restraint. With a full flow of animal spirits, the youth is ever liable to be hurried away, as by a tempest, into scenes of untried and unexpected difficulty ; where he either sinks in despondence, relinquishing his schemes, rational as well as visionary; or rushes to strike at once the decisive blow, and is himself prostrated by its violence. His pride scoros submission; and what he has rashly undertaken, he haughtily urges on at any peril.--This youth should be cautioned to moderation. Soaring awhile on his waxen wings, and hovering in mid-heaven to the admiration of the vulgar, he must expect soon to sink down, covered with shame, the pity of the discerning, and the contempt of his former admirers. A warm temperament is one element of greatness. Zeal and enthusiasm are a pledge of success in a bold enterprise ; but unless held in check by sound judgment, they become fanaticism and are the sure precursors of defeat.

Imagination presides in all his deliberations; painting often in unreal colours of hope or discouragement whatever he contemplates, investing with ideal beauty and charms what he wishes to regard as lovely; and clothing with additional deformity what he already detests. He examines nothing coolly, or justly. What

[graphic]

ever meets his fancy at first glance, never displeases him; for he identifies it with his own notions of what it ought to be. His own mind furnishes every deficiency, and prunes off all that is redundant, till it becomes to him the very creature of loveliness which his imagination had before sketched in the lines and proportions and colouring of perfection. In this delightful illusion his heart revels, and by it is darkly bound. Reason has no power to release, and conscience none to undeceive; for reason, conscience, principle, and instinct are all enslaved to the same mimicry of the fancy. Accident may break the spell. Heavenly illumination may reveal the reality. But, while the sober realities of life are less amusing and less vivid than the brilliant and lovely creations of imagination, there is little hope that the ardent youth, who has thrown the reins upon the neck of passion will be rescued by any power of self-control. Wisely did the king of Israel, who experienced somewhat of this imbecility, caution the young man: "Keep thy heart with all diligence ; for out of it are the issues of life. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

Other youth there are who think too meanly of themselves, and by suppressing what is impetuous in their temperament, become on the other hand spiritless and cold. They attempt nothing, and accomplish nothing ; never lead, and follow only with faltering steps. They strike out no daring designs, and support the plans of others with a cowardly spirit. In the benevolent doings of the day they rejoice; but, born as they imagine to nothing higher than the exercise of the milder virtues, and marked out to little or no influence on the moral destinies of the world, they live and die, and are satisfied to live and die, within the little circle which their timidity had prescribed for them.-To the cultivation of the bolder graces we would urge this youth. No fatality makes us what we are.

Men at some time are masters of their fates;
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
These youth are in the extremes. The one is tame,

the other violent; the one inert, the other abounding in deeds of pith and moment. The former is faulty, as a cool calculator, who deliberates till the time for action is past; the other, as a wellmeant enthusiast who acts by the impulse of the moment, conceiving, executing-and defeating a project all in a breath. The one is trembling and fearful, as the hare of the mountain; the other is as the horse that hath thunder in his mane; 6 he mocketh at fear and is not affrighted, neither turneth he back from the sword.”

These two characters blended make the useful man. Either alone does nothing, or worse than nothing. The princely ship is indeed driven rapidly by fierce winds which mock the ruling power of her helm; but is constantly in danger of driving on rocks and dashing in fragments. Violent emotion must be held firmly by sound judgment; no tempest of passion should be allowed to agitate the mind above entire self-control. And, on the other hand, excessive caution should not forever exile emotion. Becalmed, the ship rocks heav. ily, but without progress. Judgment and emotion combined make the man.

G.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, CONTINUED. On Wednesday after his ordination, accompanied by a friend, his wife, and sister, he set off for Cincinnati to administer the sacrament of the Lord's supper in the Second Presbyterian Church. In the evening, agreeably to appointment, preached in Franklin, 15 miles from Dayton.

The next evening we reached Cinninnati. On Friday evening Mr. Wilbur preached a preparatory lecture, from Exodus xix. 10, 11. The next day he complained of a pain in his head and stiff neck; supposed he had taken cold the preceding evening, He studied very hard part of the day and late at night; as it was the first time of his administering the ordinance, he had a great deal of preparation to make. The next day he preached on the sufferings of Christ, and administered the sacrament; there were two tables

which made the service more laborious. He complained much in the afternoon, but was prevailed on to preach in the evening, for Mr. Wilson, and baptize his child. Monday afternoon attended the meeting of the Female Benevolent Society ; spoke at some length, prayed, and sung. In the evening attended the Monthly Concert of prayer; spoke from these words, Thy kingdom come, and concluded with as fervent a prayer as ever I heard him make. On Thursday commenced his journey homeward, and arrived on Friday at Dayton. Mr. Wilbur was very ill; we sent immediately for a physician. From this time he never sat up except to have his bed made. He would not give up the idea of preaching till Saturday morning. On Friday he said I fear I shall be badly prepared for the Sabbath. I should be thinking on a message for my people. On Sabbath he requested to have writing materials brought him, sat up in bed, and wrote a short note to be read in church. He was quite exhausted with the exertion, and seemed overcome with the thought how

soon his strength had failed. He mentioned what he had done the Sabbath before, and “there,” said he, pointing to the note, “I have sent my dear people all the strength I have." He requested me to get the Christian Observer, that he might select a sermon.

I read him several texts and the divisions, and he selected one to be read in church. He said he feared he had been too much taken up with the affairs of this world; had not devoted himself enough to his Master's work, and now the Lord, as a chastisement, took from him the privilege of bearing his message to the people; said he hoped he should improve by the providence, and be more engaged than ever he had been for the salvation of precious souls; he feared he had felt too indifferent while he declared the counsel of God, whether men would hear or whether they would forbear; that he had not wrestled hard enough with God for his blessing on the word spoken. He hoped his family would improve by the chastisement and be a family devoted to God; be less encumbered with the things of time, and think and speak more of the concerns of our

souls, be able to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, be examples to the flock over which he helieved the Holy Ghost had made him an overseer, be more fervent in spirit serving the Lord. In this strain he frequently talked with me as I sat alone in the room with him. O had I thought how soon he was to be taken away, how much more anxious should I have felt to treasure up his words in my mind ! Through the next week he was too ill to be able to converse much, being constantly under the operation of medicine. He several times remarked, " I never knew how poor a place a sick bed was to make preparation for eternity till now; thanks be to God who enabled me, before I was laid on a sick bed, to examine the foundation on which I was building for eternity.” He frequently expressed his surprise that his thoughts were not placed more on God, said his mind wandered so he could hardly command it to offer a prayer of any length. He frequently repeated the two first verses of the 20th Hymn of the 2d book of Watts.

“Why is my heart so far from thee,” &c. About Thursday he began to be flighty,-frequently imagined that persons came to him to have their children baptized. This I suppose arose from the knowledge that a number of persons in the congregation were waiting till he should be ordained, to have their children baptized. One night in particular he appeared to address himself to some one, and said, 56 I am not able at pres. ent to baptize your children; are you acquainted with the nature of the ordinance ?” He then paused as if for an answer; and then went on to explain the nature and design of baptism; the duties incumbent on those who presented their children for baptism ; the privilege it was that children might thus in their infancy be admitted into the church. He quoted quite lengthy passages of Scripture in proof of what he advanced, and concluded with, Sir, I believe I have said all I am at this time able to say ;. when I am able, I will with pleasure comply with your request.” On Sabbath he dictated a note for me to write to the congregation, mentioning

« VorigeDoorgaan »