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shall support you amidst all the afflictions of life, and raise you far above the terrors of the grave.'
“ Thus a plain and honest religious friend might have gone on to 'preach the Gospel' in that simplicity with which it was at first dispensed, and to exhibit in all their amplitude and freedom, the grace, the mercy, the compassion of God; the atonement and intercession of Christ; the promised influence of the Holy Spirit ; with every other topic connected with the salvation and happi. ness of a penitent transgressor. There might, indeed, have been nothing remarkably novel or inviting in the manner of stating these simple truths ; yet coming from a warm and honest heart, and being accompanied with that divine benediction which has never been wanting where the soul has been prepared by bumility and contrition for its reception, they might have produced the happiest effects when philosophic suasion and human advice had exerted themselves in vain. In moments of great mental distress, arguments which even a child in religion could readily discover and apply, might be wanting to quiet the mind of even such a man as Dr. Johnson himself.
“ But in the narrative of Hawkins, and in the arguments which we find him proposing to the dying moralist, these and similar topics of genuine consolation appear to have bad no place. That · blood which cleanseth from all sin’ is scarcely, or only incidentally, mentioned ; and we find the narrator continuing in the following strain his inefficient consolations :
"In a visit which I made him in a few days, in consequence of a very pressing request to see me, I found him labouring under very great dejection of mind. He bad me draw near to him, and said he wanted to enter into a serious conversation with me ; and upon my expressing my willingness to join in it, he, with a look that cut me to the heart, told me that he had a prospect of death before him, and that he dreaded to meet his Saviour. I could not but be astonished at such a declaration, and advised him, as I had done before, to reflect on the course of his life, and the services he had rendered to the cause of religion and virtue, as well by his example as his writings ; to which he answered, that he had written as a philosopher, but had not lived like one. In the estimation of his offences he reasoned thus : “ Every man knows his own sins, and what grace he has resisted. But to those of others, and the circumstance under which they were committed, he is a stranger. He is therefore to look on himself as the greatest sinner he knows of.” At the conclusion of this argument, which he strongly enforced, he uttered this passionate (impassioned) exclamation : “ Shall I who have been a teacher of others, be myself a cast-away ;">
“In this interesting passage-interesting as detailing the religious progress of such a mind as Dr. Jobpson's—how many important facts and reflections crowd upon the imagination! We see the highest human intellect unable at the approach of death to find a single argument for hope or comfort, though stimulated by the mention of all the good deeds and auspicious forebodings which an anxious and attentive friend could suggest. Who that beholds this eminent man thus desirous to open his mind, and to enter into a serious conversation' upon the most momentous of all subjects which can interest an immortal being, but must regret that he had not found a spiritual adviser who was capable of fully entering into his feelings, and administering scriptural consolation to his afflicted mind :
“ The narrator informs us in this passage, that he could not but be astonished at such a declaration' as that which Dr. Johnson made. But in reality, where was the real ground for astonishment ? Is it astonishing that an inheritor of a fallen and corrupt nature, who is about to quit the world, and to be ‘judged according to the deeds done in the body,' should be alarmed at the anticipation of the event, and be anxious to understand fully the only mode of pardon and acceptance ? Rather is it not astonishing that every other intelligent man does not feel at his last hour the same anxieties which Dr. Johnson experienced ?-unless, indeed, they have been previously removed by the hopes revealed in that glorious dispensation which alone undertakes to point out in what way the Almighty sees fit to pardon a rebellious world. No man would or could have been astonished who knew his own heart ; for, as Dr. Johnson truly remarked, every Christian, how fair soever his character in the estimation of others, ought to look upon himself as the greatest sinner that he knows of;' a remark, be it observed, which shows how deeply Dr. Johnson had begun to drink into the spirit of that great Apostle, who, amidst all his excellencies, confessed and felt himself, as was just remarked. the chief of sinners.'
“ What a contrast does the advice of Hawkins, as stated by himself in the preceding passage, form to the scriptnral exhortation of our own Church! Instead of advising his friend seriously to exanıine himself whether he repented him truly of his former sins, steadfastly purposing (should he survive) to lead a new life, having a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of his death, and being in charity with all men,” he bids him look back to his past goodness, and is astonished that the survey is not attended with the hope and satisfaction which he had anticipated. But the truth was, that on the subject of religion, as on every other, Dr. Johnson entertained far more correct ideas than the friends around him ; and though he had not hitherto found peace with his Creator, through the blood of Jesus Christ, yet he could not be satisfied with the ordinary consolations of an uninformed or Pharisaic mind.
The sun did not, however, set in this long-continued cloud, for Johnson at length obtained comfort, where alone true comfort could be obtained, in the sacrifice and mediation of Jesus Christ ; a circumstance to which Sir John Hawkins transiently alludes, but the particulars of which must be supplied from the narrative of Boswell, whose words are as follows:
«Dr. Brocklesby, who will not be suspected of fanaticism, obliged me with the following account : 66 For some time before his death all his fears were calmed and absorbed by the prevalence of his faith ; and his trust in the merits and propitiation of Jesus. He talked often to me about the necessity of faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, as necessary beyond all good works whatever for the salvation of mankind."
“ Even allowing for the brevity of this statement, and for the somewhat chilling circumstance of its coming from the pen of a man who will not be sus. pected of fanaticism,' what a triumph was here for the plain unsopbisticated doctrines of the Gospel, especially that of free justification by faith in Jesus Christ! After every other means had been tried, and tried in vain, a simple penitential reliance upon the sacrifice of the Redeemer, produced in the heart of this devout man a peace and satisfaction which no reflections upon human merit could bestow. He seems to have acquired a completely new idea of Christian theology, and could doubtless henceforth practically adopt the animating language of his own church in her eleventh article, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort.'
“ There are several ways in which the distress of Dr. Johnson during his latter years may be copsidered, of which the most correct perbaps is that of
its having been permitted as a kind and fatherly chastisement from the Almighty for the inconsistencies of his life. Both Johnson himself and his most partial biographer intimate that his character was not perfectly free even from gross sins : but omitting these unpleasant recollections, we are at least certain that his general habits and companions during a considerable part of his life were not such as a strictly consistent Christian wopld have chosen, because they were not such as could in any way conduce to his sp tual comfort or improvement. Dr. Johnson was indeed called in the usual course of Providence to live in the world, but it was his duty so to have lived in it • as not of it;' and with the high sense which he uniformly entertained of religion, and the vast influence which he had justly acquired in society, his conduct and example would have been of the greatest service in persuading men to a holy as well as a virtuous life, to a cordial and complete self-dedication to God as well as to a general decorum and purity of conduct.
“ It is certain that in reflecting upon bis past life he did not view it as having been truly and decidedly Christian. He even prays in his dying hours that God would " pardon his late conversion ;'' thus evidencing not simply the vsual humi. lity and contrition of every genuiñe Christian, but, in addition to this, a secret consciousness that his heart bad never before been entirely “right with God.”
“ Had Jobnson survived ibis period of his decisive “ conversion” we might have expected to have seen throughout his conduct that he had indeed become “ new creature in Christ Jesus.” His respect for religion, and his general excellence of character, could not perhaps bave admitted of much visible change for the better ; but in beavenly-mindedaess, in love and zeal for the souls of men, in deadness to the world and to fame, in the choice of books and companions, and in the exbibition of all those spiritual graces wbich belong peculiarly to the Christian nature, we might and must bave beheld a marked improvement. Instead of being merely the Seneca of the English pation, be might possibly have become its Saint Paul; and would doubtless in future bave embodied bis moral injunctions, not in the cold form of ethical pbilosopby, or even in the generalities of the Christian religion, but in an ardent love to God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; in a union to the Redeemer and a dependance upon that holy Spirit who is the Enlightener and Sancti. fier. That such a supposition is not visionary, may be proved even from the meagre accounts afforded by a spectator who would of course be inclined rather to soften down than to give prominence to any thing which might be construed into “fanaticism.” We learn then from this witness, that in point of fact there was already a marked alteration in Dr. Johnston's language upon religion, as instead of spending bis time upon barren generalities," he talked often about the necessity of faith in Jesus.” That of which Dr. Jobpson spoke thus earnestly, and often must doubtless bave appeared to bim of the utmost importance; and we have to lamient--if indeed any dispensation of Providence may be lawfully lamented—that Jobnson bad not lived to check the Pelagianism and Pharisajsm of bis age by proclaiming often,' and with all the weight of his authority, that ' faith in the sacrifice of Jesus is necessary, beyond all good works whatever, for the salvation of mankind.?
s' It will of course be readily allowed, that the constitutional melancholy of this great man might have bad much imfluence in causing this religious depression ; but whatever may bave been the proximate cause, the affliction itself may still be viewed as performing the office of parental correction to reclaim bis relapses, and teach bim tbe batefulness and folly of sin. But without speculating upon either the final or the efficient cause, the medium through which that cause operated was evidently an indistinctness in his views respecting tbe nature of the Redeemer's atonement ;
an indistinctness commɔn to Dr. Johnson with no small class of moralists and learned men. He believed generally in the sacrifice of Christ, but he knew little of its fulness and freeness, and he was unable to appropriate it to bis own case. He was perhaps little in the habit of contemplating the Son of God as a great-High Priest, who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,' and who is graciously interceding on our behalf. The character of the Almighty as a reconciled Father and Friend with whom be was to have • daily communion and fellowship,' was less prominent in his thoughts than those attributes which render him . a consuming fire.' He feared and respected religion rather than loved it, and by building his structure on a self-righteous foundation, rendered the whole fabric liable to be over. thrown by the first attack of an accusing conscience.
" In reply to any general inference to be derived from these remarks, it may be urged that Dr. Johnson's was a peculiar and exempt case; and that his painful feeling of sin, and his consequent dissatisfaction with his own righteousness, were rather the effect of his natural malady than of any peculiarly correct ideas upon religion. But even admitting this to have been the fact, the inference is still nearly the same ; for who can assert that either his understanding or his character bas been superior to Dr. Johnson's, and that therefore he may be justly sustained in death by a support which this eminent man-from whatever cause—sound unavailing. If the greatest moralist of his age and nation was obliged to seek repose in the same free mercy that pardoned the thief upon the cross, who that knows his own heart will henceforth venture to glory in himself ? The conscience may indeed be seared ; we may not feel as Johnson felt; we may be ignorant both of God and ourselves ; and thus, for want of knowing or beliering our spiritual danger, may leave the world with a false tranquillity, and enter the presence of our Creator with a lie in our right hand.' All this, however, is our misfortune, ‘and ought not to be our boast ; for if our minds were as religiously enlightened, and our hearts as correctly impressed as Dr. Johnson's, we could obtain hope only where he obtained it, by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus.'»
ON THE SLAVE TRADE,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER. Sir-Among the various articles of Christian edification which find their way into your valuable periodical, I have remarked some judicious corrections, or perhaps, more properly speaking, illustrations of passages in the authorised version of the New Testament. That admirable translation certainly deserves all the credit that it has received ; and our wonder should be, after such a lapse of time, to find it so grateful to the ear, as well as so faithful to the sense. A close and scrupulous adherence to the original, the full force of which cannot always be conveyed without periphrasis, may sometimes cause obscurity ; but the translators will, I believe, rarely appear to have misunderstood or misrepresented the meaning. In the 7th chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, the 21st verse seems to want a clearer exposition than the English words afford to a reader unacquainted with the Greek text. The Apostle, in perfect consistency with the doctrines of bis Divine Master, requiring
spiritual regeneration, and a newness of life, referring to the internal rather than to the external condition of man, had first told his hearers of how little avail were outer forms. “ Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant ? Care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.” Now, Sir, I am inclined to think the meaning of the writer inadequately conveyed in the English words of this last verse. The Greek is–Δούλος εκληθης ; μή σοι μελετω" αλλ' ει και δύνασαι ελευθερος γενεσθαι, μαλλον χρησαι.
The word servant by no means expresses the force of the Greek term, which being opposed to
free,” should here undoubtedly be translated “slave.” free translation it might run thus—“Hast thou been called to a state of grace, while in the condition of a slave ? Let that not be a matter of concern to thee; but if thou shalt be enabled to procure thy freedom, profit thou the more by the use of it.”
In calling your attention to this passage, I have another and a most important purpose in view, relative to a question which now deeply engages, and ought at a far earlier period to have engaged, the solicitude of the Christian world—the abolition of human slavery. One of the arguments for its continuance I understand to be, the admission of its existence in the New Testatament, and the want of any formal prohibition of it by our Lord or the Apostles; the chapter to which I have referred being one of those which appear to sanction its support. A slight degree of reflection will serve to evince the futility of this argument, to validate which the advocate for slavery ought to shew a divine injunction for its continuance. The kingdom of God and his Christ not being of this world, the preaching of it did not interfere with existing systems of civil society. It had, indeed, a latent tendency to render them better, by the inculcation of duties conducive to subordination and contentment; but so far from prescribing political alterations and reforms, it expressly enjoined submission to lawful and established authority. The only way in which it could be said to affect the slavery question, was by operating on the master of the slave; for how a pupil of St. Paul's who had been in the habit of buying, selling, driving, and lacerating his fellow-creatures before, could continue in the same habit and practices after conversion, I am utterly unable to conceive. With the Heathen master's old right the new doctrine did not meddle. On the contrary, the convert, if a slave, was to continue a slave still, until either his own means or his owner's clemency, should be the happy cause of conferring freedom. That liberation frequently emanated from the latter cause, we bave full reason to know; nor can we, without the deepest sbame and remorse, contrast the humanity of the unconverted Heathen, with the cruel selfishness of too many who call themselves enlightened Christians.
The political operation of Christian principles, though indirect and unobtrusive, was nevertheless steadily efficacious in pro