Page images

being obviously in such a complaint improper, when he rose up, and standing by the fire, said, Sa rah, I have given all up.' I replied, in much grief, I think, love, it is not sinful to hope while there is life.' He said, No, not for you; but it is better for me to give up all.""


[ocr errors]

The feelings, however, of his own mind will be best learned from the following extracts from his diary. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1822.-Og rising from dinner, was seized with an expectoration of blood-put to bed, and bled. The next morning again expectorated, and again bled. Through the whole was preserved calm and composed, and enabled to resign all into the Lord's hands. It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.' I had prayed, that I might not be lifted up by my public ministrations; but still, I am afraid, felt some pride in wishing to do as well as possible, and did not wish to be checked in that way. The Lord answered me, perhaps, by this illness. Lord, henceforth give me humility! Give me it in thine own way.

"For a fortnight seemed improv, ing in health. But,

"Nov. 21, Was threatened with a relapse, and bled again. I then felt more than ever the uncertainty of life, and the probable nearness of death; and instead of praying, as before, Lord, restore me to my parish!' my prayer was, O spare me a little, that I may recover my strength, before I go hence, and am no more seen!'


[ocr errors]

"Nov. 22. Morning.-I derived comfort from considering, that if admitted into heaven, I could prostrate myself as low as any before the throne, feeling my condition as a guilty sinner, and my debt to the Saviour; and that I thought I could take pleasure in the employment of heaven. These were my evidences which afforded comfort in such a season.

"Monday, Nov. 25, E.-Was

enabled to plead the promises of the Saviour in prayer, particularly his invitations to come unto him weary and heavy laden. O how precious are these promises!


Friday, Nov. 29.—In prayer, the blessedness of the man who is under the protection of God (Ps. xc.) occurred to me. Thought I, What mercies does God give to his people who trust in him here and hereafter! Such good things, as no eye hath seen, no tongue can tell, no heart conceive. I trust, I was enabled to be thankful. How is the word of God food to the soul when it is in a proper state! O my soul, wait on the Lord! It is a mercy to have been afflicted, to find the sweetness of the word. O may I find it more!

[ocr errors]

"Dec. 9.-I am improving daily in health. O Lord, let my spiritual health also grow! Grant that I may feed and be nourished by thy holy word, so that it might be said, Mayest thou prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth!' O take not thine holy Spirit from me.

"Dec. 12.-Yesterday evening, in bed, these words came to my mind, Be careful for nothing,' &c. and I found them refreshing. Perhaps, thought I, when I leave this place, I may be taken ill on the road, and thus exchange all the comforts of home for the inconveniences of an inn; nevertheless, be careful for nothing.'

Lo,' he hath said, 'I will never leave thee; I will never, no, never forsake thee!' Perhaps, on my return, I may be unable to do duty, and then be obliged to leave my people-Be careful for nothing;' the Lord will provide.' Or perhaps my complaint may then return through exertion, gather additional strength, and in a few months consign me to the grave—

Be careful for nothing.' The Lord is all-sufficient. O my soul, commit thy way unto the Lord, he shall direct thy paths. With such pro

mises, what needest thou to fear? Lord, help me to pray more earnestly!


"I lately heard of the death of and this morning of that of If they were not of the number of thy people, O Lord, lay not their blood to my charge! Pardon the numerous sins of thy servant, and make me in future more faithful in private as well as public.

"I this day heard that Mr. Dunn could supply my cure until I was able to take it myself. How merciful is the Lord to me!"

Our limits compel us to draw to a close. Mr. E. continued at Hull about two months longer. He felt especially grateful, that the attack took place at home, in the society of his dear father, mother, and brother; in his native place, where he was almost daily favoured with the visits of pious and excellent ministers, some of whom he had known from a child, and who were deeply interested in his cares; and surrounded by numerous and sympathizing friends; for it may truly be said, all who knew him loved him.

On Jan. 14, Mr. E. left Hull in company with his sister, and after staying two nights at Cambridge, arrived safely at Stisted. His cough reappeared on the journey, though with little expectoration. He expressed great satisfaction on being with his own people; and speaking of some books he had purchased as prizes for the children, and of the increase of his subscription to the sick fund, remarked, "You see I can do nothing for your souls, I must do what I can for your bodies." During the whole of this short stay at Stisted his cough increased, and other unfavourable symptoms appearing, it was determined to remove to town for farther advice, where, in consequence, he arrived the latter end of February. In the interval of his continuance at Sti

sted, he was most obviously ripening for heaven. "Dear John," says his sister, in one of her memorandums, 66 seems to get within the vail. He really appears in such close communion with his God, as makes me feel he is not long to be an inhabitant of earth."

On arriving in town, he soon discovered, what indeed he had doubtless anticipated, that there was no prospect of recovery. Miss E. accordingly remarks:

[ocr errors]

March 4. After the medical attendant was gone, he said, I think, Sarah, they give us but poor hopes.' I replied in tears, No:' when he gently raised his hand, and said, 'The Lord's will be done; if I am spared, I shall have much to tell; if taken, I shall escape many storms and trials through this life.' I said, it is hard to part: when, turning and looking sweetly, with somewhat of ecstatic joy, he replied, I shall be ready to welcome you on the shores of heaven.""

The next day he directed letters to be written, inquiring for a suitable person to succeed him in the curacy, having previously made arrangements with respect to his pupils.

On the 7th, the Rev. Mr. Webster called, with whom Mr. E. had been acquainted from the time he went to college, in consequence of their mutual connexion with Mr. Scott. The following memorandum was made by Mr. W. on the occasion:

"I received a note yesterday from Miss Escreet, requesting me to call upon her brother, and intimating that he was in imminent danger. I should have visited him immediately, but it being my lecture night I could not go. I went this morning. After a previous conversation with Miss E. which satisfied my mind that there was no prospect of a recovery, or even of a long continuance, I was introduced into his room. I found him lying

on a sofa, exceedingly reduced, and evidently approaching to the grave. After some little conversation, I intimated, that not having seen him since he was in full health and vigour, the change in his appearance might be more striking to me than to others; but at the same time, I apprehended his own observation of sick persons must have convinced him of the danger of his situation, though of course no one could say how long the Lord might spare him, or what his purposes concerning him were. He replied, that he was perfectly happy; he trusted he was ready for life or death. He mentioned having been exceedingly low and uncomfortable the preceding night, but that about three o'clock he was enabled to leave himself entirely in the Lord's hands, and found a sweet composure which left him nothing to wish for. After conversing some time, we engaged in prayer; and, though I designedly made use of expressions clearly evincing my anticipation of a speedy removal, I found him, on rising from my knees, not only calm and composed, but with an expression in his countenance of satisfaction and delight in the prospect which lay before him. He requested, and I cheerfully promised an early repetition of my call. But it pleased God to appoint otherwise. He was removed early the next day.".

The apothecary who attended Mr. E. and who is one of the Society of Friends, called in the evening, and having been previously desired by one of his affectionate relatives to communicate to Mr. E. his real state, said to him, in the kindest manner, "I think it my duty to tell thee, that thy tabernacle is fast giving way; and intimating that a great change had taken place in the last twenty-four



hours, added, "It must be an anxious time for thee." Mr. E replied, O no, I am ready either for life or death." After this gentleman had left, Miss E. was sitting by him in tears; he put his arm round her neck, and said, "O my sister, O my sister, weep not for me! Rejoice!" and pausing a moment, said, "Rejoice with me if I stay! Rejoice with me if I go." To a gentleman who called soon after, and inquired, "Sir, do you think you are near your end?" he replied, "I don't know; I am as a traveller, and know not how near I am to my home." After this person had left him, he said, "I have been examining my evidences for heaven, and am satisfied: I know I must come as a penitent sinner to the foot of the cross; then I can lie as low as any one, and not fear acceptance."

In this calm, composed, resigned frame of mind Mr. E. continued during the night. He pronounced upon his affectionate sister, who never left him night or day, an almost patriarchal blessing; and about ten the ensuing morning, having not long before said, "Lord be merciful to me! Lord Jesus receive my spirit!" he fell asleep.

His mortal remains were interred among his beloved people at Stisted. The funeral service was read by the worthy Rector, Dr. Seale, who, though deeply affected by his loss, was yet able to officiate on the melancholy occasion; and the event was improved the following Sunday by a funeral sermon from his affectionate friend the Rev. E. White, of Gosfield, on Acts, xx. 31, "Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."





I WILL in this letter dwell a little on the subject of private prayer, as the loose verbal hints I gave you long since, may perhaps have escaped your memory. I have never thought of asking, whether in your private devotions you adopt the practice of free or extempore prayer, which I recommended to you in preference to a form. If you have, I hope that what I shall say will additionally convince you of its propriety; and if you have not, that my arguments will induce you to make the trial. I shall urge it chiefly from my own experience, conceiving that to be the best mode of impressing your mind on this and similar subjects.

Private prayer consists in asking the relief of our own individual and peculiar wants; the same petitions, therefore, will not always be suitable, since our wants and circumstances are continually varying. I remember, that when I first engaged in the delightful and important exercise of prayer, I wrote a from the dictates of my own prayer heart, and that in a season when my spiritual wants were various and urgent: yet I found, that the continual repetition of it was productive of a deadness in the exercise, and that it was frequently unsuitable to the circumstances of the moment. This obliged me occasionally to add more appropriate petitions, in which I experienced so much warmth of devotion, and nearness of communion with my heavenly Father, and such liveliness in the duty, that I shortly laid my written prayer aside, and ventured to pray out of the scantiness or abundance of my heart; and though at times I have been scarcely able to utter a syllable, and hardly knew my own wants, yet at other times I have abounded both

in expressions and desires. Many people seem to think, that a prayer must be of a certain length, and consist of a set of well-arranged phrases, in order to be acceptable; and such prayers are too frequently offered as meritorious duties. But be assured, that a prayer thus offered, however long and well composed, will be displeasing to God; while the humble prayer of the heart, though without a prescribed form, though presented with a faltering tongue and in homely language, only in the silent language of the heart when it is too big for utterance, except in a broken sigh, shall be both heard and answered. The former is from proud self-the well-regulated prayer of the lip; the latter is from God, and dictated by his Spirit. Once more I would remark, that by free prayer a much deeper experience is gained of the soul's nearness to, or distance from God, and of the spirituality or carnality of the mind, than by a form of words, which (as I intimated before) we are apt to think always acceptable, because offered with regularity, and without effort or embarrassment. In short, there are so many obvious and important advantages derived from free prayer, in private devotion, that I think their own weight will be sufficient to recommend it to your decided preference: and 1 doubt not that the blessing of God will attend it.

[ocr errors]

The most obvious interpretation of the verses in Matt. xv. which you do not comprehend, appears to be this. The woman who is the subject of the narrative, being a Canaanite, was, on that account, held in the greatest contempt by the Jews; wherefore, when, upon her first application to Christ (ver. 22), he gave her no answer, the disciples took his silence for an indication of his displeasure at her importunity;

and therefore, too much in the spirit of their countrymen, besought him to send her away. But it is evident, that he only meant thereby to try her faith. This was put to a still severer test, by his declaration in ver. 24. Her confidence, however, was unshaken, and she renewed her importunity with increased vehemence (ver. 25). But now came her fiery trial; for, in ver. 26, Jesus seems to take up the language of her enemies, which may be thus paraphrased: "Since, as I have declared, I am only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, you cannot suppose it right for me to confer those blessings which belong to them as the children of God, upon such as are his enemies, and who, in comparison

MAY 1823.

of his chosen people, you know are considered as dogs." Then follows the woman's humble yet confident reply (ver. 27), which may be thus interpreted; "Lord, I confess the truth of thy declaration; but since the dogs are permitted to eat of the crumbs that fall from their master's table, so I, renouncing all claim to thy mercy, would humbly hope for this single display of it on my behalf as thy free gift; considering myself as the meanest of thy dependents, and altogether a debtor to thy undeserved mercy." Upon this astonishing proof of unshaken faith, the blessed Jesus fully granted her request (ver. 28). I remain

Your affectionate brother,


THERE is a world we have not seen,
That time shall never dare destroy;
Where mortal footstep hath not been,
Nor ear has caught its sounds of joy.
There is a region, lovelier far
Than sages tell or poets sing,
Brighter than summer's beauties are,
And softer than the tints of spring.
There is a world, and O how blest!
Fairer than prophets ever told;
And never did an angel guest
One half its blessedness unfold.

It is all holy and serene,

The land of glory and repose;
And there, to dim the radiant scene,
The tear of sorrow never flows.

It is not fanned by summer gale,
"Tis not refreshed by vernal showers;
It never needs the moon-beam pale,

For there are known no evening hours.

No; for this world is ever bright,
With a pure radiance all its own:
The streams of uncreated light

Flow round it from the eternal throne.

There, forms that mortals may not see,
Too glorious for the eye to trace,
And clad in peerless majesty,
Move with unutterable grace.

In vain the philosophic eye

May seek to view the fair abode,
Or find it in the curtain'd sky :-


N. G.

« PreviousContinue »