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at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Young as he was, he went there alone, without any interest in the university, and with only a single letter to one of the tutors; and, there, he acquitted himself so well, though strongly and ably opposed, that in the opinion of some of the examiners, he ought to have been elected. llow often is the hand of God seen in frustrating our fondest designs ! Had success attended him, the whole circumstances of his after-life would have been varied; and however his temporal interests might have been promoted, his spiritual interests would probably have sustained a proportionate loss.
It was with sensations of this kind that he himself many years afterward reverted to this disappoint. inent. “In the autumn of 1795,” he says in an account prefiscd to his private Journal of the year 1803, "my father, at the persuasion of many of his friends, sent me to Oxford, to be a candidate for the vacant scholarship at Corpus Christi; I entered at no college, but had rooms at Exeter College, by the interest of Mr. Cole, the Sub-Rector. I passed the examination, I believe, tolerably well; but was unsuccessful, having every reason to think the decision was impartial. Had I remained, and become a member of the University at that time, as I should have done in case of success, the profligate acquaintance I had there would have introduced me to a scene of debauchery, in which I must, in all probability, from my extreme Youth, have sunk for ever."
After this repulse, Henry returned home, and coninued to attend Dr. Cardew's school till June 1797. That he had made no inconsiderable progress there, was evident from the very creditable examination he passed at Oxford ; and in the two years subsequent to this, he must have greatly augmented his fund of classical knowledge ; but it seems not to have been till after he had commenced his academical career, that bis superiority of talent was fully discovered. The signal success of that friend who had been his guide and protector at school, lcd him in the spring of this
year to direct his views towards the University of Cambridge, which he probably preferred to that of Oxford, because he there hoped to profit by the ad. vice and assistance to which he was already so much indebted. Whatever might be the cause of this preference, it certainly did not arise from any predilection for mathematics ; for in the autumn before he went to Cambridge, instead of the study of Euclid and Algebra, he confesses that one part of the day was dedicated to his favourite employment of shooting, and the other to reading, for the most part. Travels, and Lord Chesterfield's Letters—"attributing to a want of taste for mathematics, what ought to have been ascribed to idleness, and having his mind in a roving dissatisfied, restless condition, seeking his chief pleasure in reading, and human praise."
His residence at St. John's College, where his name had been previously entered in the summer, commenced in the month of October 1797; and, it may tend to show how little can be determined from first attempts, to relate that Henry Martyn began his mathematical pursuits by attempting to commit the propositions of Euclid to memory. The endeavour may be considered as a proof of the confidence he himself entertained of the retentive powers of his mind; but it did not supply an auspicious omen of future excellence,
On his introduction to the University, happily for him, the friend of his “boyish days" became the counsellor of his riper years : nor was this most important act of friendship either lost upon him at the time, or obliterated from his memory in after-life. “During the first term," he has recorded in his Journal, “ I was kept a good deal in idleness by some of my new acquaintances, but the kind attention of *** was a principal means of my preservation from excess." That his time was far from being wholly misemployed, between October and Christmas, is evident, from the place he obtained in the first class, at the public examination of his college in December; a circumstance
which, joined to the extreme desire he had to gratify his Father, encouraged and excited him to study with increased alacrity; and as the fruit of this application, at the next public examination in the summer he reached the second station in the first class ; a point of elevation, which "flattered his pride not a little."
The tenour of Henry Martyn's life during this and the succeeding year he passed at college, was to the eye of the world in the highest degree amiable and commendable. He was outwardly moral, with little exception was unwearied in application, and exhibited marks of no ordinary talent. But whatever may have been his external conduct, and whatever bis capacity in literary pursuits, he seems to have been totally ignorant of spiritualthings, and to have lived "without God in the world.” The consideration, that God chiefly regards the motives of our actions,-a consideration so momentous, and so essential to the character of a real christian, appears as yet never to have entered his mind : and even when it did, as was the case at this time, it rested there as a theoretic notion never to be reduced to practice. His own account of himself is very striking. Speaking of June 1799, he says, “ *** (the friend alluded to before) attempted to persuade me that I ought to attend to reading, not for the praise of men, but for the glory of God. This seemed strange to me, but reasonable. I resolved, therefore, to maintain this opinion thenceforth; but never designed, that I remember, that it should affect my conduct.” What a decisive mark this of an unrenewed mind!What an affecting proof that light may break in on the understanding, whilst there is not so much as the dawn of it on the heart!
Providentially for Henry Martyn, he had not only the great blessing of possessing a religious friend at college, but the singular felicity likewise of having a sister in Cornwall, who was a christian of a meek, heavenly, and affectionate spirit ; to whom, as well as to the rest of his relations there, he paid a visit in the summer of the year 1799, carrying with him no small
degree of academical honour, though not all that he had fondly and ambitiously expected for he had lost the prize for themes in his college, and was only second again in the first class at the public examination, when he had hoped to have been first :-a “double disappointment,” which, to use his own words,“ nettled him to the quick." It may be well supposed, that to a sister, such as his, her brother's spiritual welfare would be a most serious and anxious concern: and that she often conversed with him on the subject of religion, we have his own declaration. 66 ] went home this summer, and was frequently addressed by my dear sister on the subject of religion ; but the sound of the Gospel conveyed in the admonition of a sister, was grating to my ears." The first result of her tender exhortations and earnest endeavours was very discouraging: a violent conflict took place in her brother's mind, between his conviction of the truth of what she urged, and his love of the world ; and, for the present, the latter prevailed: yet sisters, similarly circumstanced, may learn from this case not merely their duty, but from the final result, the success they may anticipate from the faithful discharge of it.-—“ I think, he observes, when afterward reviewing this period with a spirit truly broken and contrite, I do not remember a time, in which the wickedness of my heart rose to a greater height than during my stay at home. The consummate selfishness and exquisite irritability of my mind were displayed in ragė, malice, and envy, in pride and vain glory and contempt of all; in the harshest language to my sister, and even to my father, if he happened to differ from my mind and will; O what an example of patience and mildness was he! I love to think of his excellent qualities, and it is frequently the anguish of my heart, that I ever could be base and wicked enough to pain him by the slightest neglect. O my God and Father, why is not my heart doubly agonized at the remembrance of all my great transgressions against thee ever since I have known thee as such! I left my sister and father in October, and him
I saw no more. I promised my sister that I would read the Bible for myself; but on being settled at college, Newton engaged all my thoughts."
At length, however, it pleased God to convince Henry by a most affecting visitation of his providence, that there was a knowledge far more important to him than any human science, and that, whilst contemplating the heavens by the light of astronomy, he should devote himself to His service, who having made those heavens, did in his nature pass through them as his Mediator and Advocate. The sudden and heart-rending intelligence of the death of his father was the proximate, though doubtless not the efficient cause of his receiving these convictions. How poignant were his sufferings under this affliction, may be seen in the account he himself has left of it: from whence it is evident, that it was not only a season of severe but of sanctified sorrow; a seed-time of tears promising that barvest of holiness, peace, and joy which succeeded it.
" At the examination at Christmas 1799," he writes, “I was first, and the account of it pleased my father prodigiously, who I was told was in great health and spirits. What was then my consternation, when, in January, I received from my brother an account of his death! But while I mourned the loss of an earthly parent, the angels in heaven were rejoicing at my being so soon to find an heavenly one. As I had no taste at this time for my usual studies, I took up my Bible, thinking that the consideration of religion was rather suitable to this solemn time; nevertheless I often took up other books to engage my attention and should have continued to do so, had not *** advised me to make this time an occasion of serious reflection. I began with the Acts, as being the most amusing; and, whilst I was entertained with the narrative, I found myself insensibly led to inquire more attentively into the doctrine of the Apostles. It corresponded nearly enough with the few notions I had received in my early youth. I believe on the first night after, 1 began to pray from a precomposed form, in which I thanked.