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broken slumbers, disturbed by frightful dreams, were among the diseases which caused his physicians to tell him, many years before his death, that with such a pulse as his, a man's life was not worth one minute.
Another example is furnished by Richard Baxter, in whose practical and devotional writings it is easy to discover the constitutional habits and qualities of the man. not inspired, ever wrote more graphically of heaven and hell, as if he had visited both, and had come back to the earth again to exhort men to seek the one and escape the other. But, notwithstanding his pre-eminent piety, during his early years his mind was greatly troubled with doubts about his own salvation, promoted, says his biographer, by the particular cast of his mind, and the state of his body. And, though habitually under the government of religious principles, it is well known that he had certain besetting infirmities of temper, which are among the most common diagnostics of what were some of his manifold diseases. The late Dr. •Payson was another, whose vibrations of Christian feeling, from the joyous to the sad, the cheerful to the desponding and melancholy, are scarcely less notorious than were his uncommon zeal and ministerial success.
The cause is at once explained, when his biographer tells us that his physical conformation was of a very delicate structure, extremely sensitive, and easily excited, so that nervous irritability and consequent depression were an ingredient in his nature. Hence, he adds, we have seen him writing bitter things against himself, for causes which, with a different temperament, would have given him little uneasiness. The case of David Brainerd, the apostolic missionary, is in some respects more marked and instructive on this subject than even Payson's. But it is easy to make the almost opposite and contradictory details of his diary harmonize with one another, and both with eminent godliness, when the writer of his Memoirs, President Edwards, tells us of his frail health, and of his constitutional proneness to dejection and melancholy. His willing spirit would have made him a rival of Paul, but under the weakness of his flesh he sunk before he reached the age of thirty.
Such illustrations need not be multiplied, and yet we cannot forbear to advert, for a moment, before we pass on, to the touching case of one in whose character there is an abiding interest, which affords a guaranty that the repetition, even of that which is familiarly known, will not be tiresome. And perhaps within the range of casuistic research, we could not find a more affecting instance of morbid religious affection, than that of Cowper. How long his mind was shrouded in darkness, and racked with the most fearful forebodings, is as widely known as is his
In one of his somewhat playful moods, when writing to the Rev. John Newton, “my thoughts,” he says, “ are clad in a sober livery, for the most part as grave as that of a bishop's servant. They turn, too, upon spiritual subjects; but the tallest fellow, and the loudest among them all, is he who is continually crying out with a loud voice, actum est de te, periïsti—it is all over, you are lost.” But what was the state of his mind for many years, is nowhere described in more affecting terms than in the last original poem which he ever wrote, and which he called the Castaway. It was founded on an incident mentioned in Lord Anson's Voyages, which he had read many years before, though the concluding stanzas show that the real subject of his muse was not the sufferer mentioned by Anson: for having described the case of the unhappy mariner, his being washed headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft; his sinking beneath the “whelming brine;" then rising to the surface, struggling among the waves, his crying for help, the efforts made to save him, the mournful sound of his voice, heard in every blast by his comrades, as the ship was driven farther and farther from him, till they
Could catch the sound no more;
when, overcome at length, and exhausted, he sunk; the poet then adds:
I therefore purpose not, or dream,
To give the melancholy theme
A more enduring date;
No voice divine the storm allayed,
We perish'd each alone;
Am whelm'd in deeper gulfs than he. That the cause of Cowper's spiritual depression was disease, has been abundantly proved to all, unless it be those “who would far sooner tolerate a poet's being a madman than his being a saint.” His despondency was produced by physical causes, which could not be removed by reasoning, any more than a headache or a paroxysm of the gout. So the sufferer himself appears to believe, as is more than implied in the following extract from one of his letters:-"The mind of man is not a fountain, but a cistern, and mine, God knows, a broken one. Sally Perry's case has given us much concern; I have no doubt it is distemper. But distresses of mind that are occasioned by distemper are the most difficult of