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The Master had said, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning.–And if he shall come in the SECOND watch, or come in the THIRD watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.-Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour WHEN YE THINK NOT.' Strange delusion of my heart! I said, He will not come to me till the end of the last watch, therefore I have twenty years, at least to live. O my soul ! hast thou been so long “a Teacher of others, and teachest thou not thyself?
How does nature, after all, overcome the best train of reasoning! After setting my house in order, with a prospect that my place at St. John's would be supplied by a better than myself, and that my wife and children would neither be forgotten in heaven or earth ; I began to be quite composed, and to invent many reasons why it might be best to go at this time :
- The Lord might see some evil coming on, from which I was to be snatched : I might fall into some snare, and dishonour the Gospel : above all, his will, his goodness, his promise would be a sufficient security for good, if he should take me now.- In the midst of this my little daughter Catharine came in, and pulling aside the curtain, asked me how I did. Her smiling countenance, unconscious of what a convulsion was taking place awakened fresh and distinct sensations. I turned my eyes upward, like Hezekiah, O Lord, I am oppressed: undertake for me! Leave not that child a fatherless wanderer in such a world as this !"
O affliction ! when sent to instruct, thou becomest a deep and faithful casuist! Of many past transactions and present habits, I said “It is nothing :” or, “It is SETTLED." Thou bringest the book again before me. What errors in the account! What blindness in the adjustment! Poor Bankrupt! I said I was rich, and increased in goods;' and behold I am miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' Who is the man, that, in health and spirits, abounds in his own sense, and in
self-satisfaction ? He may, perhaps, live to learn that his God can make an affliction present such views in one day, as a whole life of contemplation and study would never have afforded.
Besides the encouragements and assurances given in the Scriptures to prayer, my own experience will stand a terrible witness against me, if I should ever cease to pray. I cannot allow myself to put down the remarkable answers which I have had to prayer, lest I should stumble the weak, or provoke the scornful. I know not when I ever prayed in earnest, that in one way or other, I had not satisfactory evidence that God heareth prayer. Ten thousand times hath he reproached unbelief, by saying, 'Here I am- Why art thou fearful, O thou of little faith! And, so strong is this evidence to me when I examine the detail, that I see and feel that he said it not in vain, 'If
abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what YE WILL, AND IT SHALL BE DONE UNTO YOU.'
I now feel capable of instructing myself in former periods, as if I were talking to a giddy child. I feel ready to seize the arm of the silly wanderer, on this and that occasion: as one without a monitor or guide: and of saving it from its mad projects and impoverishing habits.
Who can estimate the value of such a monitor? But had I none ?—Ah how superior a one had I at all times, to what I could now prove! O slighted Bible! I feel—I feel that every deviation from the right way, every foolish and wicked thing which I have said or done, has been owing to a disregard of thy counsel : every misery and mischief, into which I have fallen, has been through a neglect of thy warning! How true is that saying, in my own experience-Oh that thou hadst hearkened unto me, then had thy peace been like a river! What peace would now remain, were it not for the Gospel ? The ignorance and unbelief of the multitude may cause them to pass it as a barren Rock ;-), like a traveller over
taken by a storm, am glad to flee to it and to be safe ; and, entering in, I find honey, one drop of which exceeds the world's highest enjoyments.
If we say, with the Apostle, “all things work together for good to them that love God, we must not forget to take in the holy character of the great agent. What I mean is this :-I contend with
children on account of the evil that I see in them, but I often feel that I mean only their good in the correction. I do not think of the evil abstractedly as evil.
But He, with whom we have to do,' will demonstrate to every conscience, soon or late, that his name is HOLY. He will bring forward to the conscience which he means to purify, its more refined as well as more gross offences. He will not only kill the cockatrice, but will crush its egg.
When at Bath, and in pain and weariness, I felt it would be a privilege to be dismissed from the arduous employment that lay before me; and wished some better Minister might take my place, while, with a small income, I might retire to some village near town, where I might read and write as I could, in quiet and at leisure. All this is done: I am dismissed ; and I may retire, with a small competency, while a better inan is ready to take my place. And now, like Rachel, I feel the loss of what I did not sufficiently prize! I feel, that, to pain and weariness, desolation and useless life, encumbering and encumbered, remains ! O Lord, in mercy withhold, when I wish amiss, as well as grant that thou seest good, or I am undone!
To-day I would fain have assisted one, whose mind was perplexed with doubts; but soon found myself injured by speaking, and was therefore obliged to leave some things of importance unsaid. I trust I shall know, in future, the worth and design of speech, if ever I should be restored to it. Certain it is, that its failure brings a strong conviction of the abuse of this faculty. What an immense part of a short life has
been wasted in idle, and sometimes injurious discourse! as if speech was given for nothing but to waste time and dissipate the mind. I will thank God for sickness, if I learn nothing more from it than this.
Pain makes me peevish: so trifles and peevishness add to the pain. Thus sin haunts and darkens the gloom of a sick chamber. On the other hand, I have repeated conviction, that as I recover a spirit of faith and prayer, I become patient; and light and comfort even under pain, return.
Old man, be quiet! I hoped thou wast dumb bere, though not dead. Thy proud speeches and angry replies are here as ridiculous as depraved. Am I such a fool, that after being brayed in the mortar of affliction, I must still proclaim to every one that I am a fool? O Divine Spirit! affliction may bruise and kill me, but thou only canst make me wise and holy.
There are blessed moments in which the soul, by converse with Christ and his eternal Kingdom, has such views, that the whole world below seems but one noisy impertinence. I heard somebody, at such a moment, come and discourse gravely on the news of Bonaparte. It then seemed too trifling to be thought of; but I know, that, to-morrow, I shall be asking after Bonaparte. Blessed moment (not far off) when I shall behold His glory!
And flesh and sin no more control
The sacred pleasures of the soul. What would not a wise man willingly endure in his body, that his mind might recover its true tone, and a right sense of things ? We are all more or less moral lunatics and prodigals, and may be thankful for any dispensation, that leads us to 'arise and go to our Father.'
O‘Emanuel, God with us!' if I did not see thee thus come down to us, and visit thine apostate creatures, invite them to return, and consecrate by thy blood ' a new and living way,' I might think of God, but with no proper ideas,---no hope nor interest.
fear that I should only fear; and, standing as I now do on the brink of eternity, I should tremble to my inmost soul. Glory to thy name! I can now, not only honour, but hope ; not only trust, but love.
I detect a delusion, wbich I put down, lest I should fall into it again. I have, for many years, been conscious, that whoever was by Mr. By-ends, I was not. I felt that I acted no part: I was deeply convinced of the truth of what I taught : I spoke from experience: I meant most sincerely what I said; and felt that my secret contrivances and plans were even more pointed and direct for the interests of men than the public. But then, I so hugged this conscious integrity, that I allowed myself to play the fool-1 allowed un unruly tongue to boast, to censure, and to complain. In short, this consciousness of honesty was to stand in the stead of the whole Law: and, like another Pope, grant dispensations to an indevout, unhumble, unwatchful, impatient, proud, and peevish spirit. My temptation was, ** There goes a wolf in sheep's clothing! Thank God you are not like him. That is enough. It is no matter whether you are like Christ, and daily growing up into him in all things.” Into such moral distempers many Christians fall: and from them nothing, I believe, but the special and express teachings of the Holy Spirit can deliver.
For a short space, I had a most lively view of the beauty and glory of Christ and his salvation. Sun of Righteousness' arose on my soul' with healing in his wings. I felt not only a sense of pardon and peace, that exceeded all earthly joys; but was deeply convinced that all the pain I had sufferred, through the late dispensation, was in order to humble, and purify, and prepare me for himself and his kingdom. I shed tears of joy, till a roving imagination brought a certain ignorant and conceited professor before me, with whom I entered into a dispute for a few minutes, which left my heart cold and dead. I perceived my loss, and made