Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ing to the very gate of heaven; and, indeed, he appears, perhaps as much as was compatible with mortality, to have drawn empyreal air! In one of his letters to Mr. Evelyn, he gives free scope to the aspirings of his winged soul; in a manner, however, which is as sober as it is sublime.

“ I long, sir,” he says, “to come to converse with you; for I promise to myself, that I may receive from you an excellent account of your progression in religion; and that you are entered into the experimental and secret way of it, which is that state of excellency, whither good persons are to arrive after a state of repentance and caution: my retirement in this solitary place hath been, I hope, of some advantage to me, as to this state of religion; in which I am yet but a novice; but, by the goodness of God, I see fine things before me whither I am contending. It is a great, but a good work; and I beg of you to assist me by your prayers, that I may arrive at that height of love and union with God, which is given to all those souls who are very dear to God.”

Such were the feelings of Taylor, while he was living in privacy, before the Restoration. Shortly after that event he was made Bishop of Down and Connor, an Irish privy counsellor, and chancellor of the university of Dublin. But, as he had known “ how to be abased,” he appears to have equally known “how to be exalted ;” for, in a sermon preached before the university in the year 1662, he expresses, it would almost seem with increased energy, but in a manner suited to the occasion, the same elevated views of religion which had en

gaged and supported him under his outward depressions.

“ There is,” says he, “ a sort of God's dear servants who walk in perfectness; who perfect holiness in the fear of God; and they have a degree of charity and divine knowledge more than we can discourse of, and more certain than the demonstration of geometry; brighter than the sun, and indeficient as the light of heaven. These are the friends of God, and they best know God's mind; and they only that are so, know how much such men do know;- they have a special unction from above."

These deep words maintaining, in the sunshine of prosperity, the extent and fulness of his highest and holiest aim in the day of adversity, make Taylor a witness to the spirit and import of the Christian religion, above thousands who have contented themselves with lower attainments. He who, after such aspirations as those first quoted, utters such expressions as in the latter quotation, may be regarded as, in mind and spirit, already within the verge of heaven; and, as if like Joshua and Caleb in the wilderness, presenting to view some of the actual fruits of the good land, that he might, thereby, establish hope, and cherish a congenial disposition accordingly, he proceeds—“ So that you are now come to the top of all. This is the highest round of the ladder, and the angels stand upon it; they dwell in love and contemplation; they worship and obey, but dispute not ; and our quarrels and impertinent wranglings about religion are nothing else but the want of the mea

sures of this state,- our light is like a candle,every wind of vain doctrine blows it out, or spends the wax, and makes the light tremulous; but the lights of heaven are fixed and bright, and shine for ever.”

In these last sentences it would really seem that Taylor considered the state of mature Christians to be virtually identical with that of the angels; that is, that the former being assimilated to the latter in disposition and temper, were in some sort associated with them in mental tranquillity and spiritual enjoyment. Comparing the latter words with the former part of the paragraph, it is thus that we must understand him; and he still more directly fixes his meaning, by saying that quarrels and impertinent wranglings about religion are nothing else but the want of the measures of this state ; which want, however, is evidently supplied in his mature Christians," who," as he says, “ have a degree of clarity brighter than the sun, and indeficient as the light of heaven.” These happy persons, therefore, in his view, are angels by anticipation; and, from what passes in the secret of their hearts, are qualified to give us an authentic account of the kind of happiness which is enjoyed by the spirits of the just made perfect.

I reflect with comfort, that the kind of testimony which I have exemplified might be produced from a great number of witnesses, who speak, from one common feeling, a language as rational as it is sublime. It is, therefore, as I said, from these fullgrown Christians, rather than from babes in Christ, that we can form a just estimate of Christian hap

piness even in this lower world; and what I see so solidly substantiated here, assures me, beyond possibility of doubt, that the felicity of the future world is perfect and ineffable. I have only room to add, that if I have said any thing satisfactory, it will give heartfelt pleasure to,

My dear Sir,
Your truly faithful and obliged


September, 1825.





Bellevûe, Feb. 1828.

Having completed my remarks on John Wesley, for whom I have had every reason to feel a deep affection, and whom I value on some accounts as much as in other instances I dissent from him, I turn my thoughts to subjects which you have brought before me in your highly estimated and most interesting letters.

You wish I should mark instances of that callida junctura which I thought I found so frequently in the Epistle to the Romans. The first which strikes me is in the end of the first chapter, when St. Paul is about to turn professedly from the Gentiles to the Jews. I say professedly, for I am inclined to think that as soon as he commences his detail of purely moral vices, in the 29th verse, he had the Jews before him as really as the Gentiles. But it seems to me that he expressly turns to the former in the 32d verse, when he speaks of those who “ know the judgments of God:” for he proceeds to descant on this aggravating circumstance in the 2d chapter, in terms applicable only to Jews; and he establishes this application in the

« PreviousContinue »