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consciences ?” Are we utterly to sacrifice all the intimacies and endearments of friendship, because we are not admitted to see the interior of conscience; or because so much, as we imagine we do see of it, appears very doubtful? I think not. Rather may not congeniality of affection be specially designed by Providence to furnish opportunities of occasionally and gently pressing home-truths? Besides, there is some distinction to be drawn between a commencing, and a continued, friendship. Before the obligations of intimacy are contracted, individuals are perfectly free to accept or to decline a friend : but not equally at liberty so to do, when kindly intercourse has long subsisted; and when, consequently, to cut short former friendship in an abrupt manner, might stir up bitter prejudices against religion. Our chief defensive rules should be, not to yield in essentials; not to conform to manifest evil; never to sanction what is scandalous and contagious; and to put a double guard upon the leaning and sympathising propensities of our own spirit. Our duty towards our friend, is, to suffer long, not to expect from him more openness than he chooses to grant, to make good use of opportunities, and not to faint in prayer. Very imperfectly to have discharged these obligations, may, to a survivor, justly furnish grounds for self-abasement and grief: yet the line of duty seems clear, though difficult.
The most grieving circumstance during this period was, his habit of making visits to the London Theatres ; to which he gave himself almost systematically, always aiming to witness the best acting, thus soliciting the incentives of eye and ear to heighten the pleasures of an unsanctified imagination. As he abhorred all the licentious abuses and concomitants of this fascinating profession, he endeavoured to justify himself to me, whenever I remonstrated with him, by asserting, which was very true, that he chiefly wished to see Tragedies well acted; of which he would sometimes give me an account, till I required him to desist, lest I should appear to lend a sanction. We often argued on this subject; and his last resort generally was, that I was arguing upon what I did not know, as I had not seen a tragedy acted. But, above all, he entreated me not to communicate this part of his conduct to his mother and his brother; of whom, on account of their great piety, he stood in some awe; besides that he was extremely reluctant to cause them the least pain.
From about this period till the year 1820,during which interval we both of us married, and were settled, the one in England, the other in the Mediterranean,—was nearly a complete syncope in our correspondence. In the autumn of 1820, touching at Gibraltar on my first return home, I learned the grateful news, that a decided and complete change had taken place in my old and dear friend's character-that sudden and alarm ing sickness had overtaken him and that he had been apprehended, (Philippians iii. 12.) at length, by the grace of God. On my arrival at London in the month of October, I rested for a week near
where he then was. We had an almost immediate interview. How different was the conversation, now, from that which I have already related as taking place in 1811 at Castleton! Being very desirous to ascertain whether he had good reason to regard his conversion as having only very recently taken place, and touching therefore on the many advantages he had formerly enjoyed, the convictions he had often experienced, and the kind of religious profession, imperfect as it was, that he had maintained ; --as if impatient of such partial views, he abruptly said, “ All that is very true ; but there is no use in dissembling with you; I never prayed.” Here was, indeed, a short confession, which answered all the interrogatories I desired to put;-and one which clearly showed that he knew, now, by blessed experience, what it was to have passed from death unto life. This, as being the most remarkable point in all our conversations, I have never forgotten :- and how well it is confirmed by his bereaved partner's account, who tells me that he ever after lived a life of prayer, may be further seen in her memoir. But I have always felt so deeply that single interview, both for the matter and the manner of his communication, that it has often seemed to me like the whole history of his converted life. And so, alas! it was, or nearly so, as far as I was personally concerned. For I soon became absorbed to that extent in missionary engagements in England, that I had very little more opportunity of conversing with him. All that I afterward saw of him was a day or two's visit at his house at Southend, when I was suffering from extreme languor ; then, a day or two's hurried intercourse during the missionary anniversaries in 1821, when I was much engaged in public; and for a short hour in March 1822, when I was about to depart the second time for Malta.
The very last trait of character which I had, at this broken interview, the opportunity of personally remarking in him, was one that proved him to have become a very vigilant and humble cultivator of his best spiritual interests. And it struck me the more forcibly, from the contrast it bore to what I had seen in him eight years previously. I will mention both the incidents. When, in 1814, I was quitting him in order to attend a party of clergymen for religious conversation and discussion, he, being desirous to detain me, said, “You will learn nothing from them which you did not know before; you know as much as they do:"-a very presumptuous suggestion, truly, for a young clergyman of only three years' standing to admit! Now, the very reverse of this spirit appeared in him. As he came to take leave of me and my family, just before our setting off for Malta, two other gentlemen were present : and while I conversed with one of them, he was engaged with the other. They were both strangers to him. I happened, at breaks in the conversation, to hear what was the subject upon which he was drawing out the other, who was a person of long-established piety, somewhat advanced in years.
He was inquiring of him, how he at first became converted, and how he had been enabled to overcome temptations to decline from his religious course, &c.; to all which inquiries the gentleman gave him very frank, judicious and instructive replies. I was sitting near enough to hear the most part of them. When they were gone, I noticed to him the topic he had chosen. “Yes,” he said, “I feel it right, when I meet with a tried servant of God, to learn from him what he has experienced, that I may be the better guided myself.” Eight years before he would not have said so; but he was now converted, and had become as a little child.—This was the last time I saw him.
The tidings of his blessed end I received in February 1824, on arriving late in the evening at Alexandria, after a dangerous and distressing voyage from the coast of Syria. Seeing at once the fact, I sat down to read through some twenty other letters first; and then, last of all, a long letter from his widow, giving the account of the closing scene. But with what tears of grief and joy I read this, it is not in my power to describe; nor can I ever remember it now without the same tears.