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God, in general, for having sent Christ into the world. But though I prayed for pardon, I had little sense of my own sinfulness ; nevertheless I began to consider my. self a religious man. The first time I went to chapel, I saw, with some degree of surprise at my former in. attention, that, in the Magnificat, there was a great degree of joy expressed at the coming of Christ, which I thought but reasonable.
*** had dent me, Doddridge's Rise and Progress. The first part of which I could not bear to read, because it appeared to make religion consist too much in humiliation ; and my proud and wicked heart would not bear to be brought down into the dust. And ***, to whom I mentioned the gloom which I felt, after reading the first part of Doddridge, reprobated it strongly.-- Alas, did he think that we can go along the way that leadeth unto life, without entering in at the straight gate.""
It was not long after Henry had been called to endure this gracious, though grievous chastening from above, that the public exercises commenced in the University; and although the great stimulus to exertion was removed by the loss of his father, whoin it was his most anxious desire to please, he again devoted himself to his mathematical studies with unwearied diligence. That spiritual danger exists in an intense application of the mind to these studies, he was so deeply sensible at a later period of his life, as on a review of this particular time, most gratefully to acknowledge, that "the mercy of God prevented the extinction of that spark of grace which his spirit had kindled.” At the moment of his exposure to this peril he was less conscious of it; but we may perceive, from the following letter to his youngest sister, that he was not wholly devoid of circumspection on this head. Having shortly, and with much simplicity, announced that his name stood first upon the list at the college examination, in the summer of the year 1800, he thus expresses himself:-"What a blessing it is for me that I have such a sister as you, my dear ***, who have been so instrumental in keeping me in the right way,
When I consider how little human assistance you have had, and the great knowledge to which you have attained in the subject of religion,-especially observing the extreme ignorance of the most wise and learned of this world, I think this is itself a mark of the wonderful influence of the Holy Ghost, in the mind of well-disposed persons. It is certainly by the Spirit alone that we can have the will, or power, or knowledge, or confidence to pray; and by Him alone we come unto the Father through Jesus Christ. “Through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."
How I rejoice to find that we disagreed only about words ! I did not doubt, as you suppose, at all about that joy, which true believers feel. Can there be any one subject, any one source of cheerfulness and joy, at all to be compared with the heavenly serenity and comfort, which such a person must find, in holding communion with his God and Saviour in prayer in addressing God as his Father, and, more than all, in the transporting hope, of being preserved unto cverlasting life, and of singing praises to his Redeemer when time shall be no more. 0 I do indeed feel this state of mind at times; but at other times, I feel quite benumbed at finding myself so cold and hard-hearted. That reluctance to prayer, that unwillingness to come unto God, who is the fountain of all good, when reason and experience tell us that with him only true pleasure is to be found, seem to be owing to Satanic influence. Though I think my employnient in life gives me peculiar advantages, in some respects, with regard to religious knowledge, yet with regard to having a practical sense of things on the mind, it is by far the worst of any. For the labourer, as he drives on his plough, and the weaver who works at his loom, may have their thoughts entirely disengaged from their work, and may think with advantage upon any religious subject. But the nature of our studies requires such a deep abstraction of the mind from all things, as completely to render it incapable of any thing else during many hours of the day. With respect to the dealings of the Almighty with me, you have heard in general the chief of my account; as I am brought to a sense of things gradually, there is nothing peculiarly striking in it to particularize. After the death of our father you know I was extremely low spirited ; and, like most other people, began to consider seriously, without any particular determination that invisible world to which he was gone, and to which I must one day go. Yet still I read the Bible unenlightened ; and said a prayer or two, rather through terror of a superior power, than from any other cause. Soon, however,
I began to attend more diligently to the words of our Saviour in the New Testament, and to devour them with delight: when the offers of mercy and forgiveness were made so freely, I supplicated to be made partaker of the covenant of grace, with eagerness and hope ; and thanks be to the ever-blessed Trinity for not leaving me without comfort. Throughout the whole, however, even when the light of divine truth was beginning to dawn on my mind, I was not under that great terror of future punishment, which I now see plainly I had every reason to feel : I look back now upon that course of wickedness, which like a gulph of destruction, yawned to swallow me up, with a trembling delight, mixed with shame at having lived so long in ignorance, and error, and blindness. I could say much more, my dear ***, but I have no more room. I have only to express my acquiescence in most of your opinions, and to join with you in gratitude to God for his mercies to us : may
preserve you and me, and all of us to the day of the Lord!”
How cheering to his sister must it have been at a moment of deep sorrow, to receive such a communication as this, which indicates a state of mind not thoroughly instructed indeed in the mystery of faith, but fully alive to the supreme importance of religion. How salutary to his own mind to have possessed so near a relation, to whom he could thus freely open the workings of his heart! But the chief cause, under God, of his stability at this season in those religious principles which by divine grace he had adopted, was evidently that constant attendance which he now commenced on the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Simeon, at Trinity College in Cambridge ; under whose truly pastoral instructions, he himself declares that he gradually acquired more knowledge in divine things."
In the retrospect indeed which Henry took of this part of his life, he seems sometimes ready to suspect a want of growth, and almost a want of vitality in his religion: but though there may have been some ground for the former of these suspicions, there certainly was none, whatever his humility may have suggested, for the latter.-"I can only account,” he says, " for my being stationary so long by the intenseness with which I pursued my studies, in which I was so absorbed, that the time I gave to them seemed not to be a portion of my existence. That in which I now seel was lamentably deficient, was a humble and contrite spirit, in which I shouid have perceived more clearly the excellency of Christ. The eagerness too with which I looked forward to the approaching examination for degrees, too clearly betrayed a heart not yet dead to the world."
That a public examination for a degree in the University must be a time of painful solicitude to those about to pass through it, is obvious-especially when great expectations have been raised, and worldly prospects are likely to be seriously affected by the event. From Henry Martyn much was expected ; and, had he failed altogether, his temporal interests would have materially suffered. Nor was he naturally insensible to those perturbations which are apt to arise in a youthful and ambitious breast. It happened, however, (as he was frequently known to assert,) that upon entering the Senate House, in which there was a larger than the usual proportion of able young men as his competitors, his mind was singularly composed and tranquillized, in the recollection of a sermon which he had heard not long before on the text-"Seekest thou great things for thyself-seek them not.” He thus
became divested of that extreme anxiety about success, which by harassing his spirit must have impeded the free exercise of his powers.
His decided sua periority in Mathematics therefore soon appeared and the highest academical honour was adjudged him in January 1801, a period when he had not completed the twentieth year of his age. Nor is it any disparagement to that honour, or to those who conferred it on him, to record, that it was attended, in this instance, with that disappointment and dissatisfaction to which all earthly blessings are subject. His description of his own feelings on this occasion is remarkable
“I obtained my highest wishes, but was surprised to find I had grasped a shadow.” So impossible is it for distinctions, though awarded for successful exertions of the intellect, to fill and satisfy the mind, especially after it has “ tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.” So certain is it, that he who drinks of the water of the well of this life must thirst again, and that it is the water which springs up to everlasting life which alone affords neyer-failing refreshment.
Having thus attained that station of remarkable merit and eminence, upon which his eye from the first had been fixed, and for which he had toiled with such astonishing diligence, as to be designated in his college as “the man who had not lost an hour," and having received likewise the first of two prizes given annually to the best proficients in mathematics, among those bachelors who have just taken their degree, in the month of March, Henry again visited Cornwall, where, amidst the joyful greetings of all his friends, on account of his honorary rewards, his youngest sister was alone dejected, not witnessing in him that progress in Christian knowledge which she had been fondly led to anticipate. Nor ought we to attribute this wholly to that ardency of affection, which might dispose her to indulge in sanguine and somewhat unreasonable expectation. Those who know what human nature is, even after