Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

midst of life we are in death. How signal an instance of preserving goodness have I to acknowledge, in that while others were taken, I was spared! I was to have been of the party, but was prevented by a slight indisposition. Will the life thus distinguished yield any revenue of praise to its Preserver and Benefactor ? and am I prepared to resign it, if some other accident or disease should attack me, from which I am not to escape? Let me remember that a respite is not a reprieve, and that

* Safety consists not in escape
From dangers of a frightful shape ;
An earthquake may be bid to spare
The man that 's strangled by a hair.'

God has smitten others, and he thereby warns me. Prepare to meet thy God.'

“Old Richard my late grandmother's coachman. He had lived in the family nearly threescore years, and had seen three generations. His worth and fidelity rendered him truly honourable, and gained for him deserved honour. Richard was born at the time of the great fire of London, and at three days old had been thrice removed with his mother from the spreading devastation. He often spoke of the goodness of God in preserving both lives under circumstances so peculiar. In his childhood and youth, it was Richard's privilege to associate with some of the confessors of Charles the Second's reign. His parents attended the ministry of the excellent Richard Baxter ; indeed, he received his name as an expression of the respect of his parents for that holy man. Many prayers were offered that he might resemble him

in spirit, and these prayers were not offered in vain, accompanied as they were by parental instruction and example. Richard embraced and exemplified the same truths which that good man laboured so successfully to diffuse both by his tongue and pen ; and though our Richard was not a preacher of the word, there is good evidence that he was a successful propagator of it ; his conversation and example having been blessed to several of his associates. • He that winneth souls is wise.'

Archibald R-, my schoolfellow and college companion, a highly gifted youth, and one who did run well but, alas, was hindered. Archibald possessed brilliant talents, and far outstripped all competitors, especially in those exercises which call forth original genius rather than plodding perseverance. He was as amiable as he was talented, and won the love even of his unsuccessful rivals, as well as the admiration of indifferent judges. His conduct was strictly moral, and even exemplary. His views of sacred truth were scriptural and clear; and there was reason to hope that he experienced the power of religion in his heart. In course of time, Archibald became a popular preacher. Wherever he preached, admiring crowds were convened, and it was considered almost a disgrace not to have heard the celebrated Mr. ịt is true that the bulk of his congregations were gathered from among the lovers of nov and variety; but even judicious and experienced Christians listened with delight to his eloquent appeals, and rejoiced to see such brilliant talents consecrated to the work of the Lord. But they had not heard him many times, before they observed with pain an effort to display himself, even at the expense

of

obscuring the great and glorious object which the Christian minister should constantly labour to exhibit. He seemed to be more full of himself than of his subject. He more than once received a faithful and affectionate expostulation, and for a time gave to the preaching of the cross something more like its due prominence; but again he relapsed into his former egotistical parade. His conversation became less and less spiritual. His chosen associates were selected, not for superior wisdom and exalted piety, but for brilliancy of talent, keenness of wit, and connexion with the more fashionable circles of literary society. The time came when Archibald could speak of experimental religion with levity bordering upon sin, and indulge scepticism on those glorious doctrines of the gospel, concerning which he had at one time said that he determined to know nought beside.

“Poor Archibald !” continued my uncle, with tears in his

eyes, “ he was not happy. The new views he embraced he found alike inefficient in affording solid support and satisfaction to his own mind, and in instructing and saving those who heard him. I unexpectedly met him a few months before his death, when he sighed for the unsophisticated pleasures of religion which he thought he once enjoyed; but declared himself unable to return to that state of mind which would prepare for their enjoyment. I was much shocked at hearing of his death, and never had an opportunity of knowing anything as to the state of his mind on its near approach. My dear boys, may you never suffer yourselves to be carried away by pride and vain philosophy; but ask for the good old paths, and walk therein, that you may find rest to your souls.

“Very different from the doubtful and misgiving feelings with which the name of poor Archibald R was entered in my little obituary, were those of entire confidence and unmingled veneration, for a long life of consistent piety, and a deathbed of humble, solid, and edifying assurance, which rested, and which are to the present day awakened, on referring to the name of an aged minister, on whom our family, when in town, constantly attended. The doctrines,' said he, which for half a century I have preached to others, are now the support of my own soul. Precious Christ! Precious gospel! Precious hope! The rock of salvation is solidity itself.'

The next entry in my uncle's book seemed to awaken in his mind feelings of deep and melancholy interest. He more than once endeavoured in vain to subdue them, and proceed with his wonted composure. At length, with an agitated voice, he said, “ True, indeed, it is, that man walketh in a vain show. We set our affections on that which is not: and our very affections are the sources of our afflictions; our hearts bleed, and our very lives are smitten down to the ground when lover and friend are put far from us.

"Now I forbid my carnal hope,

My fond desires recall :
I give my mortal interest up,

And make my God my all.”” As uncle uttered these words, he closed the book, and appeared for a few moments lost in thought. His own placid, benignant smile soon played again on his countenance, and we hoped he might have been inclined to proceed with his reminiscences. But as if suddenly recollecting the

occasion of our midnight interview, which I believe had been forgotten both by Frank and myself, he pointed to the time-piece, which, to our great surprise, intimated that the midnight peal must be nearly over. It wanted only a quarter to one o'clock. We threw up the library window, and listened a minute or two; but, with much greater interest, spent the few remaining moments in joining with my uncle in prayer that we might be enabled so to mark the flight of time, and so to number our days, as to apply our hearts unto wisdom.

« PoprzedniaDalej »