Obrazy na stronie

was at last executed for murder, after having been engaged in street-fights, with knives, at least twenty times.

The cases in which this sort of morbid suffering is exemplified are so numerous, that their name is Legion. They find that their state while here “is a conjunction of their soul to a frail distempered body, and so near a conjunction, that the actions of the soul must have great dependence on the body. Its apprehensions of spiritual good are limited by the frailty of the body, and the soul can go no higher than the body will allow.” We have known instances in which the seasons of spiritual joy and depression alternated like an intermittent disease, coming and departing at regular intervals. In the church of the late Dr. Spencer, of Brooklyn, New York, was an excellent female, whose “mind was found to be shrouded in darkness and gloom. After many conversations held at different times for months, one day I called upon her,” he says, “and to my surprise found her calm, and that her distress of spirit had given place to gladness. But three days after this, her light had departed and she had relapsed into her former state of despair. Not long after, she became hopeful and happy for a little season, and then as depressed and sorrowful as ever. These alternations from gloom to gladness were inexplicable, until I was able to connect them with the state of her bodily health. When I mentioned the cause to her, she admitted the coincidence between the coming of pain into her head and the departure of her spiritual peace; but this explanation seemed credible only during her intervals of peace, which at length became short. In the morning she was always hopeful, but every afternoon in despair. In the morning she believed that her afternoon distress was caused by her bodily infirmity, but would entirely disbelieve it in the after

At length the morbid bodily state which had so affected her mind was changed. The light of Christian hope and joy were no longer withdrawn. Her death was peaceful, without a doubt of a happy immortality.”

During Mr. Cecil's protracted sickness of



three years, the state of his mind fluctuated with his malady. Its principal effect was apparent in throwing a cloud over his comfort. He was precisely like a man laden with a heavy weight. As the load was lightened, he began to think, feel, exert and enjoy himself in his natural manner. When the burden was increased, he sank down again under the oppression. Sometimes these intermissions are much more prolonged, as in the case of the late excellent and venerable Dr. James Hall, of North Carolina, who was of a melancholy temperament; and after finishing his education at Princeton he fell into a gloomy dejection, which interrupted his studies and labours for more than a year. After his restoration he laboured successfully and comfortably in the ministry many years, even to old age; but at last was overtaken again, and entirely overwhelmed by this terrible malady.“ “Of all men that I ever saw," Dr. A. Alexander says,

, “ he had the tenderest sympathy with persons labouring under religious despondency. When on a journey, I have known him to travel

[ocr errors]

miles out of his way to converse with a sufferer of this kind; and his manner was most tender and affectionate in speaking to such.”

A venerable clergyman, who had suffered greatly from nervous affections, discovered this to be characteristic of his own experience; that when the period of gloom and distress did not terminate for two or three weeks, it would in the meantime recur only every other day. But the more common cases are those in which the cloud, when gathered, remains suspended and unmoved for days or weeks, with scarcely a gleam of sunshine. Such a sufferer was the late eminently learned and pious Isaac Milner, Dean of Carlisle, whose extraordinary talents and attainments in science were conceded by all, and whose genuine piety was questioned by none but himself. And yet, while the source of so much light and spiritual instruction to others, he was often an opaque and cheerless body to himself. “Though I have endeavoured to discharge my duty as well as I could,” he writes to Mr. Wilberforce, “yet sadness and melancholy of heart stick close by and increase upon me. I tell nobody, but I am very much sunk indeed, and I wish I could have the relief of weeping as I used to do.” Again, in writing to another, a clerical friend, he says, “My views have of late been exceedingly dark and distressing; in a word, Almighty God seems to hide his face. I entrust the secret hardly to any earthly being. I know not what will become of me. There is doubtless a good deal of bodily affection mingled with this, but it is not all so. I bless God, however, that I never lose sight of the cross; and though I should die without seeing any personal interest in the Redeemer's merits, I think, I hope, that I should be found at his

I feet. I will thank you for a word at your leisure. My door is bolted at the time of my writing this, for I am full of tears.” Such spiritual sadness is easily accounted for, when it is understood that Dr. Milner was for upwards of forty years a victim of some of the most distressing complaints that flesh is heir to. Spasms in his stomach, severe and uninterrupted headaches, oppression of the breath,

« PoprzedniaDalej »