Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

"THE THINGS THAT ARE UNSEEN ARE ETERNAL.'

"THERE is a state unknown, unseen,

Where parted souls must be ;
And but a step may be between
That world of souls and me.
The friend I loved has thither fled,
With whom I sojourned here:
I see no sight-I hear no tread ;
But may she not be near?

I see no light-I hear no sound,
When midnight shades are spread;
Yet angels pitch their tents around,
And guard my quiet bed.

'Jesus was rapt

from mortal gaze,

And clouds conveyed him hence ;
Enthron'd amid the sapphire blaze,
Beyond our feeble sense.-

Yet say not-who shall mount on high,
To bring him from above?

For lo! the Lord is always nigh

The children of his love.

The Saviour whom I long have sought,
And would, but cannot see-
And is he here? O wondrous thought!
And will he dwell with me?

'I ask not with my mortal eye
To view the vision bright;
I dare not see Thee, lest I die;
Yet Lord, restore my sight!
'Give me to see Thee, and to feel-
The mental vision clear:
The things unseen reveal! reveal!
And let me know them near.
'I seek not fancy's glittering height,
That charmed my ardent youth;
But in thy light would see the light,
And learn thy perfect truth,

'The gathering clouds of sense disp
That wrapt my soul around;
In heavenly places make me dwell,
While treading earthly ground.
'Illume this shadowy soul of mine,
That still in darkness lies;
O let the light in darkness shine,
And bid the day-star rise!

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

as a

For a full delineation of Miss Taylor's religious sentiments and feelings, we must refer our readers to the volumes before us. There is one passage in the memoir, however, on which we could wish that a remark or two had been added by the Biographer, to guard young persons more especially from mistaking Miss Taylor's sentiments on the subject. She represents herself as having been suddenly relieved from the cloud of discomfort and perplexity which had long rested on her mind prior to the year 1817, when the circumstance referred to took place, by a burst of light which disclosed to her, with a clearness and vividness in which she had never before viewed it, the pardoning mercy and love of God, The effect was so 'powerful,' she says, that I was almost dissolved by it.' She considered the change in her feelings thus produced, 'most kind and timely preparation for what, but a few weeks. before. would have overwhelmed' her with consternation ́ and distress,'-alluding to the first communication made to her by the London surgeons respecting the alarming nature of her complaint. It enabled her, too, so far to overcome the extreme reserve of her temper as to make that public profession of faith in Christ by becoming a member of her father's church, from which she had only been withheld by diffidence and the fear of self-deception. The religious world is in so much greater danger in the present day on the side of a Sadducean philosophy, than on that of enthusiasm, that few persons require to be admonished not to lay an undue stress on frames, impressions, and emotions, as a test of religious character or condition. Miss Taylor's own sentiments on this point are expressed in one of the letters, of an earlier date than the occurrence above mentioned.

[ocr errors]

'I have heard the most judicious Christians reply, that a holy walk with God, a humble consciousness of preferring him and his service to any other thing, is a better and safer evidence of a real change of heart, than a reference to the most remarkable emotions of mind at any particular time.'

There is nothing, we make no doubt, that she would more strongly have deprecated, than a reliance upon extraordinary impressions, by which physical alternations are confounded with the genuine exercise of the religious affections, and the accidents of fancy, perhaps, are mistaken for the act of faith. There is no great danger, however, of being misled by impres

sions, in whatever manner they originate, so long as they consist of revealed truth; for it is in such impressions, conveyed with more or less force, that saving faith and all true consolation originate. A declaration, heard a thousand times with indifference, shall arrest the mind with a power, and distinctness, and authority, as a truth of personal interest, which it never carried with it before. A familiar passage of Scripture shall, as by a sudden ray of light falling upon the words, disclose itself in all the fulness of its meaning, so that it shall seem never to have been read or at least understood till now. In these cases, there is nothing vague or imaginary, and there can be no delusion in the impression. The cause is real, and the effect is rational, and corresponds to it. And all that seems unaccountable to the individual is, that the same truth should not long ago have made its due impression. Sometimes, however, the understanding receives a real accession of light, by the actual development of what had hitherto appeared enigmatical; and there are moral problems and perplexities of the heart, the solution of which will produce a transport not inferior to that of the ancient Geometrician when he exclaimed, I have found it.' In such cases, the thought which succeeds to the joy of discovery is, 'Why did I not see this before?" Persuasions, then, that correspond to truths in themselves certain, cannot be unreal; nor can the strong emotions which their strength or suddenness occasions, be justly charged with enthusiasm.

[ocr errors]

The cause-by which we mean the instrumental cause-is, we say, real; it is truth; that by which alone a rational mind can be rationally operated upon, the only instrument by which the Divine Spirit works on the heart of man. And by this unfailing test, all genuine religious impressions, whether sudden, violent, or of an ordinary character, are distinguished from indefinite, imaginary, and fanatical ones. But, in speaking of the instrumental cause, we cannot be understood as excluding a supernatural cause, imparting to it all its efficiency. The reason why truth acts on different minds, or on the same mind at different times, so differently, is not that its certainty varics even to the apprehension of the individual. The variation, therefore, must be in the subject of its influence,-in the mind or heart itself. Responsible, however, as man is, for the government of his thoughts, their origin is alike beyond his knowledge and control. That sensible objects and physical emotions ordinarily set the machinery of thought in motion, is certain; but often the thoughts seem as spontaneous and uncaused as they are involuntary, although every thought, not less than every pulsation and every mechanical movement,

must have its cause. How absurdly as well as impiously do those reason, who would deny that that cause may be, and often is, supernatural and Divine !

Admitting, as we readily do, that bodily feelings often determine the varying force of our emotions, and even give a colouring to our thoughts, and that changes which seem purely mental, are often in fact transitions from disease to health;-admitting, too, that it is impossible to discriminate between the different sources of our mental emotions, or to draw the line between what is of a moral and what of a constitutional nature;-still, as our whole nature is the workmanship of one Divine Hand, of Him who knoweth our frame, it matters little, as regards either the First Cause or the final design of such impressions, whether the second cause be simple or complex, partly physical or purely moral. There is a propensity in too many persons to fall into the atheistic notion of the philosopher who, maintaining that God is the name we give to every unknown cause, imagined that by every fresh link in the chain of causes which he could discover in Nature, that unknown cause was removed further back, less and less necessity and scope being left for its operation, till at length the progress of knowledge would exclude the agency of God from his own universe, and annihilate the idea of Deity. Without going this length of absurdity, philosophers and moralists are too apt to imagine that supernatural agency is excluded in proportion to the ascertained operation of natural causes; than which there cannot be a more pernicious mistake. Whether the agency of God be more or less immediate, whether the instrumental cause be known or unknown, mechanical or moral, external or internal, affecting primarily the body or the mind, the First Cause devoutly to be recognised, is the same. these things worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, as he wills."

"All

One word more on this subject. Prayer has no other rational foundation than the belief, which men are so slow to entertain, that there is an immediate and reciprocal communication between their minds and the Father of Spirits, by which they are enabled to approach his presence, and He has access to the inmost recesses of their nature. This fact being established, nothing remains to be accounted for, except that the results should so little correspond to it in the experience of Christians in general; and this is no difficulty to any person who knows his own heart, for he finds its solution there.

Perhaps it may be thought, that we have taken unnecessary pains in thus commenting on the expressions which suggested our remarks; but it is evident that Miss Taylor referred the

consolation thus imparted to her mind, to the immediate operation of Divine influence, (and that it was so, we have no doubt,) we deemed it a proper occasion to place so important a subject in its proper light. The elation of feeling in time. subsided, but the view which produced it was never lost; and as it answered its immediate purpose, and incited her to the fulfilment of a long delayed duty, so it gave place only to a settled hope, which secured her from any future distress. It deserves to be mentioned, however, that she ascribes the first removal of her difficulties to the sentiments contained in a letter from a pious friend. I saw,' she says, how absurd it was to doubt the promise of God, and that it was in respect to these very difficulties that he says, "Seek, and ye shall, "find." But what difficulties, it may be asked, could disturb such a mind as that of Jane Taylor, apart from her constitutional timidity? Her Biographer must answer this.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The doubts that at times distressed her, took their rise, for the most part, from the high notions she had formed of the requirements of Christianity. Her frequent expressions were such as these: "I have no doubt as to the way of salvation;-it lies upon the surface of the Scriptures, and appeals with the force of truth to every heart that is humbled by the conviction of personal guilt. But those who shall receive the benefit of this free salvation, and who shall be accounted worthy to stand before the throne,' are those who on earth are meet for heaven, by being truly like Christ :-and am I—are the mass of those of whom we are accustomed to think well-are they like Christ?” ›

[ocr errors]

In fact, her difficulties appear to have been occasioned by a high-toned sincerity and ardour of feeling, leading her to view with self-distrust what she deemed the low degree of her spiritual attainments. On a mind of less sensibility and a frame less delicate, these same difficulties and misgivings would have had no other effect than that of a salutary stimulus, producing a humility free from despondency, a solicitude never amounting to distress. Her views seem to have been altogether clear, practical, and in themselves conducive to right feeling, -such, indeed, as are held in common by thousands of sincere Christians who are but just made to move by the considerations with which her mind seems to have been overwrought. That such views should for a long time have counteracted the influence of the Christian hope, which at length triumphed over every constitutional infirmity, must be ascribed to that morbid vividness of imagination which is so often the fatal prerogative and penalty of genius, combined with an organization too fragile to sustain the force of its own emotions. 'Happily for VOL. XXV. N. S.

« PoprzedniaDalej »