« PreviousContinue »
in general in the evening, out of the reach of all sound, but the rippling of the water, and the whistling of the curlew.” In these pensive and solitary walks, the great sacrifices he was shortly about to make, could not but force themselves frequently upon his mind, and raise the silent and involuntary sigh : but we may be well assured, that “in the multitude of the thoughts which he had in his heart, God's comforts refreshed his soul."
At length, after having withstood in Cornwall, as well as at Cambridge, the arguments of those who "at all events would have detained him in England," arguments of which he confesses that “ some were not without weight”-he prepared to leave that part of bis native country, which was peculiariy dear to his feeling and affectionate heart.
The separations of Christians from each other in this world of mutability, afflictive as they ever must be, have their peculiar alleviations : they know that Christ“ fills all things”-and they have the blissful expectation of an endless reunion in that world of glory, whither they are hastening.
Mr. Martyn, with respect to several from whom he was now to part, could fully indulge in these animating anticipations: but he could not as it respected all. The following is a mournful record of a bnal interview, overclouded by the gloom of an almost hopeless
"* * * rode with me part of the way, but kept the conversation on general subjects. If I brought him by force to religion, he spoke with the most astonishing apathy on the subject. His cold deliberate superiority to every thing but argument, convinced me not merely that he was not fully convinced, as he said, but was rooted in infidelity. Nothing remained for me but to pray for him. Though he parted from me, to see me probably no more, he said nothing that could betray the existence of any passions in him. O cursed infidelity, that freezes the heart blood here, as well as destroys the soul hereafter, I could only adore the sovereign grace of God, who distinguished me
from him, though every thing was alike in us. We have been intimate from our infancy, and have had the same plans and pursuits, and nearly the same condition : but one is taken, and the other is left. I, through mercy, find my only joy and delight in the knowledge of Christ; and he is denying the truth of religion altogether."
By another farewell, which he has also depicted, he could not be otherwise than very deeply affected : but the sorrow was of a character very dissimilar to the Jast. “ Rode before * * * with
* * * to an old man, five miles off. Our conversation was such as becometh saints, but it was too pleasant for me. I sighed at the thought of losing their company. When we arrived, the old man was out; but his sister, a blind woman of seventy, was confined to her bed, without any comfortable hope. - *** and myself said every thing we could to cheer her, and then I prayed. When the old man arrived, we formed a little circle before the door, under the trees, and he conversed with his young hearers concerning the things of God, I then read Psalm lxxxiv. Our ride home was delightful, our hearts being all devoutly disposed, only mine was unhappy. Parted with * *** for ever in this life, with a sort of uncertain pain, which I knew would increase to greater violence.”
These forebodings were but too soon realized. On the evening of that day, and for many succeeding days, his mental agony was extreme-yet he could speak to God, as one who knew the great conflict within him : he was convinced, that as God willed his happiness, he was providing for it eventually by that bitter separation : he resolved through grace to be his, though it should be through much tribulation : he experienced sweetly and solemnly the excellence of serving him faithfully, and of following Christ and his Apostles : he meditated with great joy on the end of this world, and enjoyed the thought of walking hereafter with her, from whom he was removed, in the realms of glory.
But Mr. Martyn had not filled up the measure of
his sufferings, having not yet bid adieu to his sisters. With the eldest he spent one melancholy evening, in exhorting her for the last time, and endeavouring to comfort her; and on the succeeding day he took leave of the youngest: “ They parted as if to meet no more,
Y and overwhelmed with inexpressible grief, could find no consolation but in mutually commending each other to the grace of God in prayer.
Thus turning his back, like Abraham of old, on his kindred and his country, and looking for that city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God-Mr. Martyn departed from Cornwall.
At Plymouth, whither he proceeded, he passed a Sabbath in a heavenly serenity of spirit, and in the full exercise of that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. There he preached twice; on Dan. v. 22, 23.
66 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of Heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; and the God, in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified :” and on Rev. xxii. 17 ; "And the spirit and the bride say, Come: And let him that heareth
Come; And let him that is athirst come: And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”_" His soul long-d,” he said, “ for the eternal world; and he could see nothing on earth for which he would wish to live another hour." At this place an incident occurred, indicative as well of his extraordinary humility, as of that extreme temerity of judgment, in which those, who make a loud, though in the main, genuine profession of religion, are too apt to indulge. Having expounded the Scriptures, and prayed with many who assembled to listen to his parting words, he discovered that there were some pre
sent, who ventured to express a doubt of the reality of his religion. One person, in particular, openly avowed his apprehensions concerning him-so that his heart was wounded : yet, observed that meek and lowly man of God, " I was thankful to God for admonishing me, and my gratitude to the man was, I think, unfeigned."-Such was his recorded comment at the time; and it is noted afterward in his Journal, that this very person was especially remembered by him in his prayers.
From Plymouth, where his sorrow was painfully renewed, by being separated from a family nearly related and greatly endeared to him, he proceeded to London ; during which journey he sought, according to his settled custom, to render his conversation profitable to his fellow-travellers ; and in one instance, on this occasion, his attempts were not, it may be hoped, unattended with success. He had for his companion a young French officer, on his parole-a Protestant, who had been accustomed, he found, to attend to morning and evening prayer, and to read his Bible, which he had unfortunately lost when he was taken prisoner. But his views of the gospel appearing to Mr. Martyn very defective, he explained to him "his state by nature, his condemnation by law, the neces. sity of regeneration, and of free salvation by Christ, and the promise of the Spirit.” The young man paid much attention to these admonitions, and expressed great affection for his adviser; who afterward presented him with a French Testament, and corresponded with him on those important topics which he had set before him.
Change of place and circumstances did not keep Mr. Martyn from communing with that Lord and Saviour, who is every where, and who was, with him whithersoever he went. On this journey, when leaving Bath early in the morning, “ He found his soul ascending to God with divine sweetness. Nothing seemed desirable but to glorify him : All creatures were as nothing."-Towards the evening, as they
drew near London, he was delightfully engaged in meditation on the latter part of the second chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, “contemplating the building as it was rising, and as it would be when finished. O the transcendent glory," said he, “ of this temple of souls, lively stones, perfect in all its parts, the purchase and the work of God."
On the 18th of September, we find Mr. Martyn again quietly settled at Cambridge-from whence his youngest sister received a letter from him, of which the following is an extract; and so excellent surely is the spirit which pervades it. that tears of thankfulness for possessing such a brother must have mingled themselves with those, which she could not but shed abundantly on account of his departure.
66 We should consider it as a sign for good, my dearest * * *, when the Lord reveals to us the almost desperate corruption of our hearts. For, if he causes us to groan under it as an insupportable burden, he will, we may hope, in his own time, give us deliverance. The pride which I see dwelling in my own heart, producing there the most obstinate hardness, I can truly say, my soul abhors. I see it to be unreasonable-I feel it to be tormenting. When I sometimes offer up supplications, with strong crying to God, to bring down my spirit into the dust, I endeavour calmly to contemplate the infinite majesty of the most high God, and my own meanness and wickedness.
Or else I quietly tell the Lord, who knows the heart, that I would give him all the glory of every thing if I could. But the most effectual way I have ever found, is to lead away my thoughts from myself and my own concerns, by praying for all my friends, for the Church, the world, the nation; and, especially, by beseeching that God would glorify his own great name, by converting all nations to the obedience of faith, -also by praying that he would put more abundant honour on those Christians, whom he seems to have honoured especially, and whom we see to be manifestly our superiors. This is at least a positive act of humility; and it is