Page images
[ocr errors]

pleased God to enlighten his understanding, and to give him the knowledge and experience of evangelical truth. Mr. Baxter's Saints' Everlasting Rest became his favourite book. This he read, studied, imitated. Now he knew that astronomy, with which he was so delighted, surveyed but a dunghill in compari. son of that system of things which the religion of Jesus contemplates. Stars, about which Mr. Paine makes such a pother, are but dirty clods, when compared with that glory which lies beyond the reach of the highest human contemplation. He was now, therefore, wholly occupied with divine contemplations, and tasted so much sweetness in the knowledge of CHRIST, that it was discernible in his very appearance, and he counted every thing but dross and dung, in comparison of the knowledge of CHRIST, and him crucified. Not that he looked upon human learning as useless: but when fixed below Christ, not improved for CHRIST, or set in opposition to CHRIST; he looked upon wisdom as folly, upon learning as madness, and upou genius as a curse, which would make a man more like the Devil, more fit for his service, and put a greater accent upon our misery in another world.

At the age of twenty he was admitted a Fellow of his College. Still, however, he went on with his religious contemplations, and became so mighty in prayer, and other sacred exercises, that he forgot the weakness of his body, and injured his health. He studied much, prayed much, and laboured much in every way he could contrive to be of use to mankind, and to promote the honour of the DIVINE Being. Sickness coming on, he was never' permitted to preach but twice. His disorder, which was of the consumptive kind, encreased rapidly upon him, but yet with some intervals of relief. During the greatest part of his sickness, however, he was so filled with love, and peace, and joy, that human language sinks under what he saw and felt. During the greatest part of his illness, he talked as if he had been in the third heaven; breaking out every now and then into extasies. of joy and praise. Not a word dropped from his mouth but it breathed of CHRIST, and heaven. He talked as if he had been with Jesus, and come from the immediate presence of God. At one time he said ;"O my friends, stand and wonder; come, look upon a dying man and wonder. Was there ever greater kindness? Were there ever more sensible manifestations of rich grace? O, why me, Lord? why me? Sure this is akin to

heaven. And if I were never to enjoy more than this, it were well worth all the torments which men and devils could invent. If this be dying, dying is sweet. Let no Christian ever be afraid of dying. Oh! death is sweet to me! This bed is soft. Christ's arms, liis smiles, and visits, sure they would turn hell into heaven! Oh! that you did but see and feel what I do! Come, and behold a dying man, more cheerful than ever you saw any healthful man in the midst of his sweetest enjoyments. O Sirs! worldly pleasures are pitiful, poor, sorry things, compared with one glimpse of his glory which shines so strongly into my soul. Oh! why should any of you be so sad, when I am so glad! This, this is the hour that I have waited for."

About forty-eight hours before bis dissolution, he said again: - Praise is now, my work, and I shall be engaged in that sweef employment for ever. Come, let us lift up our voice ir praise. I have nothing else to do. I have done with prayer, and all other ordinances. I have almost done conversing with mortals. I shall presently be beholding Christ himself, that died for me, and loved me, and washed me in his blood. I shall in a few hours be in eternity, singing the song of Moses, and the song of the LAMB. I shall presently stand upon mount Sion with an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, and Jesus the Mediator of the nero covenani. I shall hear the voice of much people, and be one amongst them who say--Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and honour, and power be unto the LORD our Gon! And again we say, Hallelujah! Methinks I stand as it were one foot in heaven, and the other on earth.". Methinks I hear the melody of heaven, and by faith i' see the angels waiting to carry my soul to the hosom of Jesus, and I shall be for ever with the Lord in glory. And who can choose but rejoice in all this?"

In such a rapturous strain as this he continued, full of praise, full of admiration, full of joy, till at length, with abundance of faith and fervency, he cried aloud;" Amen! Amen!" and soon after expired *.

* Mr. JANEWAY arrived at these high attainments in the divine life, by a constant pertisal of his Bible: a frequent perusal of Mr. BAXTER's Saints' Everlasting Rest, a book for which multitudes will have cause to bless God for ever; and by spending a due proportion of every day in secret prayer, and devout contemplation.

The Earl of Mirandola and Concordia, who died in the flower of his age, about the year 1494, after he had for sóine time quitted all And now, my friends and COUNTRYMEN, with sentiments of the most benevolent and affectionate regard, both for his great employments under CHARLES thefifth, einperor of Ger many, was esteemed the most beautiful person of that age, and a man of the most exalted genius; and yet, after having read all that could be read, and learned every thing that could then be learned, wrote to his Nephew, an officer in the army, in a style worthy of the above example of JANEWAY:-"I make it my humble request to you," says he, " that you would not fail to read the Holy Scriptures night and morning with great attention; for as it is our duty to meditate upon the Laro of God day and night, so nothing can be more useful; because there is in the Holy Scriptures a celestial and efficacious power, inflaming the soul with divine fear and love."

Our celebrated SPENCER, though a man of dissipation in his youth, in his more advanced years entered into the interior of religion, and in his two Hymns on Heavenly Love, and Heavenly Beauty, bath expressed all the height and depth of JANEWAY's experience:

* Then shalt thou feel thy spirit so possest,
And ravisht with devouring great desire
Of his dear self, that shall thy feeble breast
Inflame with love, and set thes all on fire
With burning zeal, through every part entire,
That in no earthly thing thou shalt delight,
But in his sweet and amiable sight.
Then shall thy ravisht soul inspired be
With heavenly thoughts, far above hunian skill,
And thy bright radiant eyes shall plainly see
Th’idea of his pure glory present still
Before thy face, that all thy spirits shall fill
With sweet enragement of celestial love,

Kindled through sight of those fair things above." SPENCER's religion, we see from the above extracts, is, like that of the Quaker's, “a religion of feeling." This too is unquestionably the religion of the Bible. Whom having not seen ye love: in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with

joy unspeakable and full of glory. See this subject considered at some length in Mr. WILBER FORCE's Practical View, chap. 3, sect, 2d and 3d.

The same devout and heavenly spirit breathes strongly in all the old ascetic authors. AUGUSTINE is famous for it; so were several others of the ancient Fathers of the church. THOMAS A KEMPIS is excelled by none in this way. St. BERNARD is very pious. His hymn on the name Jesus is in a high strain of this kind.

“ Desidero te millies,
Mi JESUS! quando venies?
Me lætum quando facies?

Me de te quando saties?"
St. AUGUSTINE's hymn, which begias,


You, and every human being, whether Jew, Turk, Infidel, Heretic, or Christian, I submit these reflections, concerning Religion and the Sacred Writings, to your most serious consideration. What impression they may make upon your minds, is known only to the God of the spirits of all flesh *. My

“Ad perennis vitæ fontem

Mens sitivit arida ;" is in the same strain; and has been imitated in that favourite old. hymn recorded in the Pilgrim's Guide:

Jerusalem, my happy home,

O that I were in thee.
O would my woes were at an end,

Thy joys that I might see! &c. &c." Almost every thing of this kind, however, which has been left us by our forefathers is written in a style highly depraved, and is usually equally devout and superstitious. The pious reader, therefore, will be upon his guard in the perusal of such authors, and take the good, and cast the bad away. The Bible alone is free from human weaknesses.

* If the reader should find himself dissatisfied with the Plea for Religion and the Sacred IVritings, which is here put into his hand, let him by no means give up the cause as desperate, but rather let him Jay it aside, and have recourse to those niore able and explicit Treatises, which I have occasionally recommended in the Notes. Or, if he thinks himself capable of rendering a more effectual service to the cause of evangelical truth, let him take up his own pen, and confound the enemies of religion. Learned Laymen, especially, should come forward in vindication of the Gospel; since every thing which proceeds from the Clergy on religion, is supposed to spring froin a self-interested source, Mr. WILBER FORCE has done himself much honour. He is a bold and able advocate for a much in. jured cause. Nor less so is the excellent Miss HANNAH MORE. She is a credit to her sex, and a blessing to her country. It is scarce. ly possible, however, for authors on this subject to be too numerous. We are not wanting in clerical writers; but those who have treated on subjects purely religious, among the other ranks of society, are comparatively few; and especially among the Princes and Nobles of the land. Mr. HORACE WALPOLE has given us a catalogue of the Royal and Noble authors of England, Scotland, and Ireland, since the Conquest; and, I think, he produces, during all those ages, only 10 English Princes, 92 Peers, and 14 Peeresses. To these he adds 24 Scotch royal and noble authors, with 11 Irish Peers: In all about 150; a small number when it is considered that they are usually the best educated men in the country.

In Germany have been published in the course of six years, from 1785 to 1790, no less a number than 27,372 books, on the following subjects, and in these proportions:

earnest request to you, is, that if you will give them a fair and dispassionate hearing, and seek truth, at least, with as much warmth and assiduity, as we usually employ in our secular pursuits. No man ever succeeded greatly in life, who did not enbark zealously in its concerns. No man ever became a good scholar, without much time and application. And no man ever made any considerable proficiency in things divine, till all the leading powers of his soul were engaged therein. Permit me then to exhort you to be in earnest in your religious enquiries. Apply your minds with zeal and impartiality to the investigation of sacred wisdom. This is the concern, the duty, the privilege, the glory of every human being. The most ancient and sublime author in the world hath exhausted all the treasures of nature to express its intrinsic value: Where shall Wisdom be found? and where is the place of UNDERSTANDING? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the lizing. The depth saith, It is not in me; and the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be rulued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the chrystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be 1 General Literature

68 2 Philology

. 1527 3 Divinity

4863 4 Jurisprudence

2158 5 Medicine and Surgery

1898 6 Metaphysics and M. Philosophy

965 7 Education

- 506 8 Politics and Finance

1885 9 Military Sciences

154 10 Physics and Natural History

- 1729 11 Arts and Manufactures

1 100 12 Mathematics

5.81 13 Geography and History

4779 14 Belles Lettres

- 3798 15 History of Literature

762 16 Miscellaneous

· 689

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Gent. Mag. Feb. 1796, p. 147. From the Monthly Mag, for June 1799, it appears, that the average number of books published in Germany, from 1785 to the close of the year 1797, is 5,369 anuually.

« PreviousContinue »