Page images
PDF
EPUB

availed himself of the opportunity of he was one of the most keen-sighted hearing him preach, and of carrying men that ever lived. He fathomed on the correspondence referred to in human character and looked into a the previous extract (about the bad man's soul in a moment.' Another poetry of the hymns used both by the observer thus speaks of him: 'I am church and the dissenters). Such a certain the author of Vathek knew correspondence is not unlikely, for perfectly well what was passing in Beckford was a proficient both in your mind. He has often said to me, poetry and music. But we have “Men's faces are a sort of alphabet found no allusion to this correspon- to me; I can read their minds as dence, and no trace of it, among Mr. easily as I can read a book.”' Jay's papers.

Beckford was a very proud man, * Never did two men come into of violent passions. . . . He adopted contact and comparison with each a certain line of policy towards his other whose lives, deeds, characters, fellows; and his haughty spirit and ends furnish more affecting and bravely supported him. He said, instructive lessons, than William just after Lord Byron's death: ‘So Beckford, the gay, learned, accom- Byron is gone! He cared about the plished, sumptuous proprietor of world, affected not to care, defied it, Fonthill Abbey, and William Jay, and was unsuccessful. I have defied the stonemason's son, become minis- it and succeeded. I have resources ter of Argyle Chapel, and, by his if I should live centuries !' books, the instructor of myriads of “He directed by his will that his his fellow-creatures in the way of body should be embalmed, placed in salvation.

a chest, and deposited in a tomb, “Of Mr. Beckford, his friends have erected in that part of his garden recorded that he battled manfully adjoining Lansdown Tower; that with his malady. When he saw that on his mausoleum should appear the the struggle was vain, not before, and following inscription : on one side,that life was rapidly ebbing, he wrote • William Beckford, Esq., late of to his affectionate daughter in town Fonthill, Wilts. Died 2nd May, 1844, his last laconic note: 'Come,-quick, aged 84,' with this quotation from quick,'—and expired' a day or two Vathek :after the duchess's arrival.” “He spoke to no one about his

. Enjoying humbly the most precious gift of

heaven to man-hope !' belief or his hope. Indeed, he was one of those whose thoughts would On the other side the same obituary, have communed only with God at followed by these lines, from a prayer such a crisis. He used to say, "What written by himself:are forms ? The heart is everything.'

"Eternal Power ! A clergyman came. He thanked him

Grant me through obvious clouds one tranfor the offer of his services; but he sient gleam could do no more: it was his last

Of thy bright essence on my dying hoar !' effort." This was the testimony of one of his friends. Mr. Neale says: Was this gifted and wealthy man “From another source I learned that, a faithful steward? What did he for in his parting hour, the truly estima- his kind ? Mighty trusts were conble rector of his parish attended at fided to him ! Blest with ample Lansdown (the name of his mansion ). means, highly cultivated intellect, He assembled Mr. Beckford's whole and unusual length of days, what establishment for prayer, in the room permanent blessings did he confer adjoining that in which the dying on his fellows?

What hospital man lay. .... Mr. Beckford himself did he build? What asylum endow? made no confession of faith.

What school did he originate? What His was a silent death-bed as to the sanctuary did he raise for the worship mighty future.

of the Most High? What cloud of One who saw a good deal of Mr. heathen error did he seek to dissiBeckford during the latter part of his pate? What memorial has he left life, thus writes of him : 'I believe behind him to cheer and gladden,

[ocr errors]

BB

during life's weary pilgrimage, the Let the reader“

compare these aged, the sorrow-stricken, the suffer- lines, which no doubt expressed the ing, the desolate, or the bereaved ? last solemn, but yet gloomy, feelings What charity did he munificently of their author, with the account of support during life, or place beyond Mr. Jay's last hours, ... and then the reach of failure by his testamen- let him say which was the happier tary dispositions at death? What

man while they both lived, and which widows' grateful tears or orphans' is now the most honoured and the murmured blessings will the casual most illustrious, after the long career mention of his name arouse? Was which they both enjoyed; the one in his a mere religion of the imagina- the full blaze of worldly splendour, tion; and his reverence for sacred or in luxurious seclusion from it, subjects bounded by his admiration

gratifying and improving his intelof The Madonna,' “The Infant

lectual powers with everything reSaviour,' • The Salvator Mundi,'

fined, except the one thing needful ; when placed on the canvas by the but the other, from the day that he limner's art ?”Closing Scenes, &c. left off working at Fonthill Abbey, till

“ Between these two distinguished the day of his death, in the full hope men (Beckford and Jay), how wide of eternal life through the grace of is the difference and how vast the

our Lord Jesus Christ, devoting all interval !”

his energies to the service of God and “ What a contrast in their outward

· man, and deriving all his pleasures fortunes and original conditions ! from doing the work which his heaWhat a contrast in their characters, venly Father gave him to do.” their achievements, their services to WILLIAM Jay, from the age of sixmankind, and the memoirs that now teen to his eighty-fifth year, was a survive them! And, above all, how

preacher of righteousness. His last affectingly contrasted were the closing

sermon, which occupied about fifty mi. scenes of their two lives, both in the

nutes in the delivery, was“ preached city of Bath!

in Kingswood Meeting-house,” near * Beckford's own verses, a part of Wooton-under-Edge, on Sunday, Sept. which were inscribed, by his direction, 18, 1853, from the words of Job, “Beon his splendid monument, though hold, I am vile..' (Job xl. 4.) He rethey display the exalted genius and ferred to the celebrated heathen preexquisite taste of their author, yet cept, “ Know thyself,and to Pope's afford no trace of Christian hope or well-known sentiment, “ The proper peace. He calls them prayer. study of mankind is man.” He then Like the soft murmur of the secret stream,

discussed:41. The nature of the selfWhich through dark alders winds its

accusation—“I am vile :” II. The shady way,

way in which this perception of vileMy suppliant voice is heard : ah, do not deem ness is obtained: III. The effects of That on vain toys I throw my hours this perception : IV. The way to enaway.

dure this perception. The last par'In the recesses of the forest vale,

ticular of the fourth branch of his On the wild inountain, on the verdant sod, subject was this, “ The time will soon When the fresh breezes of the morn prevail,

come when this vileness will be done I wander lonely, communing with God. away.” Then quoting the stanza• When the faint sickness of a wounded beart

• Yet a season, and you know Creeps in cold shudderings through my Happy entrance will be given, shaking frame,

All your sorrows left below, I turn to Thee:—that holy peace impart

And earth exchanged for heaven:"Which soothes the invokers of thy awful Name.

he finished with the question, “ Chris: O all-pervading Spirit--sacred Beam !

tians, is not this worth dying for?" Parent of life and light ! Eternal

These were the last words of his last Power!

sermon. Grant me through obvious clouds one tran

From the period of that sermon's sient gleam

delivery “tils about Christmas, he Of thy bright essence on my dying hour.'” suffered much anguish of body, but

[ocr errors]

6

was occasionally able to read and The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose write a little. As his sufferings per

I will not, I will not desert to his foes; mitted, he attended to the printing

That soul, though all hell should endeavour to and publishing of his last work, en

I'll never, no never, no never forsake.' (shake, titled, “ Female Scripture Biography,

Afterwards he exclaimed, Exceeding the last sheet of which was corrected great and precious promises ! and sent to the press only on Friday, Sooner all nature shall change December 23rd, 1853; and on Tues

Than one of His promises fail.' day, the 27th, at half-past six in the

“On another occasion, when one of evening, he calmly slept in Jesus.

his attendants was reading to him, as “ The acuteness of his sufferings sometimes gave a tinge of melancholy being ) a certain speculative work on

was the constant practice, (the book to his utterances; but these were the groanings of the creature waiting to

theology, which was then occasioning be delivered from the bondage of puzzle yourselves with such subjects.

much controversy, he said, 'Don't corruption into the glorious liberty of

View God as he is, infinitely holy, the children of God. In his various

wise, true, merciful, gracious, amiaconversations, particularly with Mrs.

ble. View Him not as Jay, he said, “Will He plead against

tyrant, but

as He is, God of all grace. Look me with His great power? No; but

entirely on Him at all times, and He will put strength in me.'

He

under all circumstances. He is ever hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him; but He

waiting to be gracious. He changeth

not. He is “the same yesterday, toknoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth

day, and for ever.'

On Christmas-day his sufferings as gold. “And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in Thee. I know,

were very severe, and he said to Dr. O Lord, that all thy judgments are

Bowie his physician), O doctor,

what a Christmas-day! but I can right.

say, “ Thanks be unto God for His • The sharpest sufferings I endure, unspeakable gift ;” and then he Flow from his faithful care.'

quoted 1 Pet. i. 3, 4, 5, “ Blessed be and

the God and Father of our Lord Jesus • What are all my sufferings here,

Christ, which according to His abunWhen once compared with His ?'”

dant mercy hath begotten us again to

a lively hope, by the resurrection of From these recollections his thoughts Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inpassed to the infinite meritoriousness heritance incorruptible,” &c. and sufficiency of the sacrifice of the On the morning of the day on cross, and his interest therein, whence which he died, he said, “Oh, none his soul drew" strong consolation,” of you know what it is to die." He and in which he sought shelter and spoke but little after, gradually sinkrested by faith. On another occa- ing into the arms of death in so still sion,” say his biographers,“ he ex- and calm a manner that “the precise pressed his feelings thus: ‘But I am period of his departure was not perpoor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh ceived. Though he uttered but few upon me.' 'O my God, give me pa- words on the bed of death, yet there tience; forsake me not, a poor sinner. was the silent testimony of a settled O God, Thou hast taught me from my peace; while his long life and entire youth, and hitherto I have declared labours had afforded a faithful and thy wondrous works. Now also consistent witness for God and when I am old and grey-headed, O truth.” (See pages 25 to 30, and 232 God, forsake me not.' Adding in the to 238, of the volume.) words of the hymn

Let the reader of these sketches of • Even down to old age my people shall

biography, whether disposed to piety

or averse to it, whether of sceptical prove My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;

or of believing tendency of mind, conAnd when hoary hairs their temples adorn,

sider the contrast presented to his Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be

notice in the two characters and their borne.

pursuits, and determine which is most

6

[ocr errors]

to be coveted, emulated, and fol- perfect man, and behold the upright, lowed. We mean not in regard to

for the end of that man is peace.” office, but in regard to general aim But, “It is easier for a camel to go and the great outlines of character. through the eye of a needle, than for Look at the two men in the last scene a rich man to enter the kingdom of of life; run up the line of retrospec- God: "though, “ with God, nothing is tion to their outset; trace downward impossible.' again the course that each followed ; and whether would desire fix upon

THE BREVITY OF LIFE. the stone-mason's son, a raw, unlet- How brief is life! Statistics show tered lad, brought, whilst yet in his

that the average of human life does nonage to the knowledge of Jesus and

not exceed 33 years. Thousands of the enjoyment of salvation through mortals die in infancy, thousands faith in His name,-beginning to tes- more in youth, while manhood is soon tify to others what the Lord had done

gathered in as a harvest fully ripe ; for his soul, --rapidly advancing in

and even they who live out threescore knowledge, labours, and usefulness,

years and ten, have to say with Jacob, sustaining for an almost unexampled

Few and evil have the days of the period the highest office with which

years of my life been.” man can be entrusted,-sending out Time is short, and eternity is at work after work from his prolific pen hand; our years are on the wing: for the instruction and edification of

In all similies and representations of myriads of readers in two continents

life's brevity" a death-bell is heard of the world, -and departing in a tolling; and they who heed the warnripe old age to the “house not made ing, “set their house in order," and with hands, eternal in the heavens : "

prepare to meet their God. -or upon the son of the merchant

Yet, like the rich man in the paraand alderman of the world's modern

ble, most of us expect to live many metropolis, with his princely fortune,

years, although conscious—and yet spending an equally long life in the

how forgetful ! —that“our life is but a gratification of luxurious tastes,

vapour that appeareth for a little time, spending a mine of wealth upon their and then vanisheth away.” Like a indulgence, wrapping up himself in a

tale it is sweetly told, but is soon haughty and refined selfishness, and

ended. Life is a burning lamp, whose dying, at last, with nothing better to wick is suddenly turned low by the support his gasping mind than a

fingers of death; the flame expiring vapid poetical sentimentality ? amid its struggles to live. Our days

The two men are now in eternity, are swifter than a flying post, or a where this world's trifles and diver

weaver's shuttle, and shorter than a sions avail nothing. We, too, must

span. Like chaff before the whirlsoon pass away from time, and enter

wind, we are scattered when death the eternal world. If there were no breathes upon us.

“Man soon dieth, hereafter, whose character and career and wasteth away; yea, he giveth up of the two is most to be desired ?

the ghost, and where is he? Whose is most honourable and no

Henry King, a poet of the sevenble ? But, as time, and all its tran

teenth century, impressed with the sactions, character, and all its

brevity of life, wrote: pursuits, have their issues in eternity,

“Like to the falling of a star, and as revelation has declared beforehand that “whatsoever a man soweth,

Or as the flights of eagles are,

Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue, that shall he also reap; he that sow

Or silver drops of morning dew, eth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap Or like a wind that chafes the flood, corruption; but he that soweth to the Or bubbles that on water stood. Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting :"—who will not say, with

Even such is man,—whose borrowed light

Is straight called in and paid to night. deeper concern and greater sincerity

The wind blows out-the bubble diesthan Balaam, did, “Let me die the

The spring entombed in autumn liesdeath of the righteous, and let my The dew dries up—the star is shot. latter end be like his ? ' • Mark the The flight is passed—and man forgot.”

our

6.

Well may we with Hargrave Jen- There is no time to waste in idleness, ning, ask, “What is life?" and reply or to fritter away in folly. Here is with him, “ It is but a walk to and December, 1869. What have we done fro upon our grave ;” and yet we for Jesus? Has the fig-tree only scarcely discern the fact by reason of borne leaves ? Shall you, shall Í, the verdure and flowers which bide see the light of another year on earth? the dark clods of the valley from God only knows. Our passage through view; so that we tread unconcerned the world is swift as the flight of an and unalarmed to-day, where to- arrow;—the arrow falls, and morrow we may start and writhe in bodies must soon lie among the clods. our death agony; then die and be This very hour we are nearer the interred in our tombs."

grave than we were ; and this may be Like flowers we wither; like leaves the very last magazine we shall ever we fade; like butterflies we perish ; read. In such an hour as ye think for the summer of our mortal existence ñot, the Son of Man cometh." is soon over.

Life is brief, but let it gleam with “ Are not my days few?” But how the light of holy deeds.

“ The place am I spending them ? sunning my- that now knows us shall soon know self in sin? or living beneath the us no more for ever;" but the shorter smile of the eternal God ? in luxurious our existence here, the longer our ease? or Christian philanthropy ? in existence in heaven. A devoted life doing no harm (if such be possible), brings nothing but glory to God. Let or in doing good? The noblest and us live like this, and when we are dead divinest of these two brief delineations it shall be said of us, is life in reality; only

“The memory of the just is blessed.” Life that can send

ALBERT. A challenge to the end, And when it comes, say " Welcome, friend!'.

Poetry. Are these lines before the eyes of an ungodly reader? Here are thoughts

ON THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR. that should make you tremble, and LINES WRITTEN IN 1848, BY A LOCAL PREACHER,

WHO PASSED TO HIS FINAL HOME, MAR. 28, lead you at once to flee from the

1869, AGED 84 YEARS. wrath to come. Diseases are raging;

Amidst the cares of every day, accidents are continually occurring;

Our weeks and months soon pass away, in fact, the chances of living a single

And bring us--though we often fearday are fewer than the chances of

Safely to close another year. dying; and what mortal wishes to stand before God an enemy to Him,

How rich the blessings to us given

While we are on our road to heaven ! and hear that dread sentence, “De

Though death, we know, is always near, part ye cursed ? "

We're spared to close another year. Servant of Christ, how do these

Many who joined with us in prayer thoughts impress you? Think of the

In the beginning of this year, havock death has made in the circle of

Have laid their clay-made* cottage down, your friends during the last twelve

And took possession of their crown :-months. Forget not those who died unprepared, of whom you have no

That crown prepared by God above

For all who know the Saviour's love; hope to meet again in glory; and

For those who live to him on earth, cease not your efforts for those who

And prove they are of heavenly birth. are still alive. Live righteously before them, pray for them, and plead Oh, happy change ! 0 blessed day! with them.

When we shall leave our mortal clay; Remember too, the regrets of those

Our bappy spirits then shall rise,

To join the chorus of the skies ; who passed away to heaven; the work they left unfinished; and act so

Shall meet our friends who went before,

And God in Christ shall there adore; that your regrets may be very few.

Shout victory through redeeming blood, Speak of eternal things more often ;

And bask before the throne of God. rebuke in love; make people feel that

J. S. Senr. you are what you profess to be ; be watchful; be prayerful ; be useful.

* Job iv. 19.

« PreviousContinue »