Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to man.

me to himself by any of the peculiar motives | abiding and growing conviction of his infinite of the Gospel. When I was about twenty distance from the standard of perfection, and years old, I became utterly sick of the vanity, the little comparative use which he had made and disgusted with the folly, of the world. "1 of his many means and helps in approaching had no thought of Jesus Christ, or of redemp- that standard—a humility that expressed itself, tion. The very notion of Jesus Christ or of therefore, in a teachableness of mind, * a ready redemption repelled me. I could not endure acknowledgment of excellence in others, and a system so degrading. I thought there might a candor in judging of other persons which possibly be a Supreme Being; and if there are seldom equalled, and which were rare enwere such a Being, he might hear me when I dowments in a mind that could not but feel its prayed. To worship, the Supreme Being own powers, and its superiority to that of seemed somewhat dignified. There was some- most other men. But God has a thousand thing grand and elevating in the idea. But unseen methods of forming and cherishing the whole scheme and plan of redemption ap- those graces in his servants, which seem peared mean, and degrading, and dishonorable most opposed to their constitution, and least

The New Testament, in its senti- to be expected in their circumstances. ments and institutions, repelled me; and Mr. Cecil gave me one day the following seemed impossible to be believed, as a religion remarkable illustration of this subject in his suitable to man."

own case :-“It is a nice question in casuisThe grace of God triumphed, however, over try:-How far a man may feel complacency in all opposition. The religion which began in the exercise of talent. A hawk exults on his this disgust with the world and disatfection to wing; he skims and sails, delighting in the the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, made consciousness of his powers. I know nothing rapid advances in his mind. The seed sown of this feeling. DissATISFACTION accompanies in tears by his inestimable inother, though me, in the study and in the pulpit. I never long buried, now burst into life, and shot forth made a sermon with which I feli satisfied; I with vigor; and he became a preacher of that never preached a sermon, with which I felt truth, which once he labored to destroy. Yet satisfied. I have always present to my mind grace did not annihilate the natural character such a conception of what might be done, and and qualities of the mind; though it regulated I sometimes hear the thing so done, that what and directed them. The Christian's feelings I do falls very far beneath what it seems to me and experience were modified by the constitu- it should be. Some sermons which I have tion of the man. After a long course of spi- heard have made ine sick of my own for a ritual watchfulness and warfare, he spoke thus month afterwards. Many ministers have no of himself:

conception of any thing beyond their own “ There is what Bacon calls a DRY Light, in world: they compare themselves only with which subjects are viewed, without any predi- themselves; and perhaps they must do so: if lection, or passion, or emotion, but simply as I could give them my views of their ministry, they exist. This is very much my character without changing the men, they would be as a Christian. I have great constitutional ruined; while now, they are eminent instruresistance. Tell me such a thing is my duty- ments in God's hands. But some men see I know it is, but there I stop. Talk to me of too much beyond themselves for their own HELL--my heart would rise with a sort of comfort. Perhaps complacency in the exerdaring stubbornness. There is a constitutional cise of talent, be it what it may, is hardly to desperation about me, which was the most be separated, in such a wretched heart as conspicuous feature in my character when man's, from pride. It seems to me that this young, and which has risen up against the gra- dissatisfaction with myself, is the messenger cious measures which God has all my life taken sent to buffet me and keep me down. In other to subdue and break it. I feel I can do little in nen, the separation between complacency and religion without ENCOURAGEMENT. I am per- pride may be possible ; but I scarcely think it suaded and satisfied, tied and bound, by its is so in me." f truth and importance and value; but I view the subject in a DRY LIGHT. A strong sense of

* “A friend, who knew him for thirty or forty DIVINE FRIENDSHIP goes a vast way with me. years, has informed me,” says Mr. Wilson, in the serWhen I fall, God will raise me. When I

mons preached on occasion of Mr. Cecil's death, want, God will provide. When I am in per- persons whom he esteemed, than most men.

" that he was more ready to hear of his faults from

When plexity, God will deliver. He cares for me any failings were pointed out to him, he usually pities me--bears with me-guides me-loves thanked the reprover, and anxiously inquired for fur

ther admonitions. I have observed myself, that, when But the energy of Divine Grace was most he gave advice, which he did with acuteness and deconspicuous in the control and mastery of cision, he was quite superior to that little vanity which this resisting and high spirit of which our is offended if the counsel be not followed.”

| Mr. Churton has a remark on Dr. Johnson, somefriend complained. Nay, if there were any one Christian virtue in which he was more what of a similar nature to this of Mr. C. on himself. advanced than any other, it appears to me to constitutional infirmities were intended by Providence,

He thinks that “Johnson's morbid melancholy and have been humility-not that humility which like St. Paul's thorn in the flesh, to check intellectual debases itself that it may be exalted, and conceit and arrogance; which the consciousness of his which is offended if its professions be be- extraordinary talents, awake as he was to the voice of lieved; but the humility which arose from an praise, might otherwise have generated in a very cul

me!”

I have alluded to Mr. Cecil's READY ACKNOW- received, because I considered that my account LEDGMENT OF THE WORTH of OTHERS; and I must of the matter could not be stated to some, add, that he cultivated that discrimination of to whom a different representation would be excellence, which leads a man to discover made. A man who intends to stand immacuand esteem it in the midst of imperfections. late, and, like Samuel, to come forward and He had an unfeigned regard to real worth, say-Whose ox, or whose ass have I taken? must wherever it was found. The powers of the count the cost. I knew that my character understanding have often fascinated men of was worth more to me than this sum of moinferior wisdom, and lessened the odiousness ney. By probity, a man honors himself. It of an immoral state of heart too plainly seen is the part of a wise man to waive the present in others; but if the excellencies of the head good for the future increase. A merchant and the heart must be disjoined, he never failed suffers a large quantity of goods to go out of to value that which is most truly valuable. He the kingdom to a foreign land, but he has his would say—" Such a friend of ours is what object in doing so; he knows, by calculation, many men look down on, as a weak man; but that he shall make so much more advantage I honor his wisdom and his devotedness. He by them. A Christian is made a wise man by throws himself out, and all the powers which counting the cost. The best picture I know God has given him, into the service of his of the exercise of this virtue, drawn by the Master, in all thosc ways which seem to him hand of man, is that by John Bunyan in the besť; and, though perhaps he and I should characters of Passion and Patience. forever differ on the best way, and though I Associated with this disinterestedness of spisee in him many peculiarities and weaknesses, rit, was a singular PRACTICAL RELIANCE ON PROyet I honor and love the man; I revere his vidence, in all the most minute and seemingly simplicity and his piety. He is what God has indifferent affairs of his life. He was emphatmade him ; and all that he is he puts into action ically, to use his own expression, “ a pupil of for God.” If Mr. Cecil was at any time severe signs"_waiting for and following the leadings in his remarks on others, his severity was and openings of divine Providence in his affairs. chiefly directed against that ignorant vanity I once consulted him throughout a very deliand affectation, which push a man forward cate and perplexing affair. In one stage of it, where great men would retire, and which he said to me, “ You have not done this thing make him dogmatical where wise men would exactly as I should have felt my mind led to speak with humility and candor.

do it. I feel myself in such cases like a child Closely allied with his humility, was that in the middle of an intricate and perplexed OPENNESS TO CONVICTION, which Mr. Cecil pos- wood. Two considerations weigh with me : sessed in an unusual degree. He had dived first-If I could see all the involutions, and so deeply into his own heart, and had read relations, and bearings, and consequences of man so accurately—his short-sightedness, his the affair, then I might feel myself able to scanty span, his pride, and his passions—that move forward: but secondly, I know not one he was, more than most men, superior to that of them, not even the shadow of one, nay, little feeling which makes us quit the scholar's hardly the probability of such and such issues. form. Many men speak of themselves and of Then I am driven to simple reliance. I have all around them as in a state of pupilage and never found God fail me in such cases. When childhood, but I never approached a man on I am utterly lost and confounded, I look for whose mind this conviction had a more real openings, clear and evident to my own conand practical influence.

viction. I have a warrant for all this. Our DisinteRESTEDNESS was a pre-eminent cha- grand danger with reference to Providence is, racteristic of Mr. Cecil as a Christian. His that we should walk as men :- Are ye not carwhole spirit and conduct spoke one language: nal and walk as men ?" “Let me and mine be nothing, so that thy On another occasion he said—“ We make kingdom may come!” His disinterestedness too little of the subject of Providence. My was grounded on his conviction of the abso- mind is by nature so intrepid and sanguine, lute nothingness of all earthly good, compared and it has so often led me to anticipate God with the glory of Christ and the interests of in his guidings, to my severe loss, that perhis kingdom. In all pecuniary transactions of haps I am now too suspicious and dilatory in a private or public nature, he was governed by following him. However, this is a maxim this principle; and made a free and cheerful with me—that, when I am waiting with a sacrifice of what he might have lawfully ob- simple, childlike spirit for openings and guidtained, if he thought his receiving it would ings, and imagine I perceive them, God would impede his usefulness.

either prevent the semblance of them from On one occasion of this nature, he explained rising up before me, if these were not his leadthe noble principle on which he acted :-“A ings in reality, or he would preserve me from Christian is called to refrain from some things, deeming them such; and therefore I always which, though actually right, yet will not bear follow what appears to be my duty without a good appearance to all men. I once judged hesitation." it my duty to refuse a considerable sum of But the spring of all these Christian virtues, money, which I might lawfully and fairly have and the master-grace of his mind, was Faith.

His whole spirit and character were a living pable degreo."--Boswell's Life of Johnson, 2d Edit. 8vo. illustration of that definition of the apostlevol. iii. p. 564.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the

evidence of things unseen! He appeared to me ness less conspicuous, whenever the interests never to be exercised with doubts and fears. of truth and the honor of Christ were conHis magnanimity entered most strikingly into cerned. The world in arms would not have his religious character. He was convinced appalled him, while the glory of Christ was in and satisfied by all the divine declarations and his view. Nor do I believe that he would have promises—and he left himself, with unsus- hesitated for a moment, after he had given to pecting confidence, in God's hands.

nature her just tribute of feeling and of tears, I quote Mr. Wilson's testimony to the Pa- to go forth from his family, and join "the TIENCE of our friend UNDER AFFLICTIONS. “He noble army of martyrs” who expired in the was not only, in opposition to all the tenden- flames in Smithfield, had the honor of his Mascies of his natural dispositions, resigned, but ter called him to this sacrifice; nor would his cheerful under his trials. I have seen him knees have trembled, nor his look changed. repeatedly, at his Living in the country, return Yet, I cannot but add, that this firmness nefrom his ride racked with pain; pale, ema- ver degenerated into rudeness. He knew and ciated, speechless. I have seen him throw observed all those decencies of life, which himself all along upon his sofa, on his face, render mutual intercourse agreeable; and he and cover his forehead with his hands; and had that ease of manner, among all classes of there, without an expression of complaint, en- society, which bespoke perfect self-possession dure the paroxysm of his disorder: and I have and a thorough knowledge of the world. His been astonished to observe him rise up in an address in meeting the manners and habits of instant, with his wonted dignity, and enter up- thinking of persons of rank, either when they on conversation with cheerfulness and vigor. were inquiring into religion or under affliction, He has often acknowledged to me, that the was, perhaps, scarcely to be equalled. anguish he felt was like a dagger plunged into The associations in our friend's mind were his side, and that through a whole summer he often of a very humorous kird. He had a has not had two nights free from tormenting strong natural turn for associations of this pain. Such were his sufferings for ten or nature, which threw a great vivacity and charm iwelve years previous to his last illness. And over his familiar conversation-employed as yet this was the man, or rather this was the it was, in the main, like every faculty of his Christian, from whose lips I never heard a mind, for useful ends. He was fully aware, murmuring word.”

however, of the danger of possessing such a It is almost needless to add, that Mr. Cecil faculty, and the temptations to which it expossessed remarkABLE DECISION OF Character. posed him; prompted and supported as it was When he went to Oxford he had made a reso- by a buoyancy of spirits, which even great lution of restricting himself to a quarter of an and lengthened pain could scarcely subdue. hour daily, in playing on the violín ; on which I have looked at him, and listened to him, instrument he greatly excelled, and of which with astonishment-when meeting, with a few he was extravagantly sond: but he found it other young men occasionally at his house, we impracticable to adhere to his determination; have found him dejected and worn out with and had so frequently to lament the loss of pain--stretched on his sofa, and declining to time in this fascinating amusement, that with join in our conversation—till he caught an inthe noble spirit which characterized him terest in what was passing—when the questhrough life, he cut his strings, and never af- tion of an inquiring or burdened conscience terwards replaced them. He studied for a has roused him to an exertion of his great painter; and, after he had changed his object, mind-he has risen from his sofa-he has sorretained a fondness and a taste for the art": he got his sufferings—and he has left us nothing was once called to visit a sick lady, in whose to do but to admire and treasure up most proroom there was a painting which so strongly found and impressive remarks on the Scripattracted his notice, that he found his attention ture, on the heart, and on the world. diverted from the sick person, and absorbed The mention of his humor and his vivacity by the painting: from that moment he formed of spirit leads me to remark, that I am not the resolution of mortifying a taste, which he writing a panegyric, but drawing a character. found so intrusive, and so obstructive to him No likeness can be faithful, while the best oriin his nobler pursuits; and determined never ginal is such as he must be in the present afterwards to frequent the exhibition.

state, if it carry no shades. I have no wish Nor was his INTREPID AND INFLEXIBLE FIRM to conceal the shades of this extraordinary

character. Sternness and levity were the two * Mr. Wilson justly remarks of our friend, that " the constitutional evils, which most severely exdetermination and grandeur of his mind displayed his ercised him. They seem to have been the faith to peculiar advantage. This divine principle quite necessary result, in an imperfect being, of the realized and substantiated to him the things which are union of that masculine and original vigor not seen and eternal. It was absolutely like another with humor and an ardent fancy, which met

The things of time were as nothing. Every in the structure of his mind. So far, indeed, thing that came before him was referred to a spiritual standard. His one great object was fixed, and this had grace triumphed over these constitutional object engrossed his whole soul. Here his foot stood enemies, that the very opposite features were immoveable, as on a rock. His hold on the truths of the most prominent in his character; and no the Scriptures was so firm, that he acted on them boldly one could approach him without feeling himand unreservedly. He went all lengths, and risked all self with a most Tender and serious mind. I consequences, on the word and promise of God."

speak of those occasional ebullitions, which

sense.

tended to remind him, that, though he was in you, would be expecting what ought not to invested with a new and triumphant nature, be expected. This is a strong alterative in he was yet at home in the body, and subject to your dispensation. Now I have long been in the recurrence of his constitutional infirmities. the habit of viewing every thing of that aspect

Yet, though Mr. Cecil felt occasionally rather in a melancholy light. You are standtemptations to levity, through the buoyancy ing on the justice, the reason, the truth of and spring of his animal spirits, his prevailing your cause. I should have heard God saying, temper was of a quite opposite description. Son of man, follow me.' It would have led A sensibility of spirit, with his view of human me into a speculative—mystical sort of way. nature and of the world, threw a cast of me- I should have seen in it the food that is sweepLANCHOLY over his mind. He was far more ing over the earth—the utter bankruptcy of all disposed to weep over the guilt and misery of human affairs. Most men, if they had stood man, than to smile at his folljes. “I have,” | by and compared our conduct, would have said he, a salient principle in me. My spi- commended yours as rational, but condemned rits never sink. Yet I have a strong dash of mine as enthusiastic--as connecting things melancholy. It is a high and exquisite feel together which had no proper connexion; but ing. When I first awake in the morning, I this is my way of viewing every alterative in could often weep with pleasure. The holy my dispensation.” calm, the silence, the freshness, thrill through “ The heart,” said he,“ must be divorced my soul. At such moments I should feel the from its idols. Age does a great deal in curing presence of any person to be intrusion and the man of his frenzy ; but, if God has a speimpertinence, and common affairs, nauseous. cial work for a man, he takes a shorter and The stillness of an empty house is paradise to sharper course with him. Stand ready for it. me. The man who has never felt thus cannot I have been in both schools. Bleeding and be made to understand what I mean.''

cauterizing have done much for me, and age "Hooker's dying thought,” he added, “ is has done much also-Can I any longer taste congenial to my spirit. •am going to leave what I eat or what I drink ?" a world disordered, and church disorganized, Though the Memoir of Mr. Cecil's life, and for a world and a church where every angel the letters which are subjoined, bear ample and every rank of angels stand before the testimony to the TENDERNESS OF HIS RELATIVE throne in the very post God has assigned AFFECTIONS, yet I cannot but add here what a them. I am obliged habitually to turn my eye frier wrote on visiting him, many years befrom the wretched disorders of the world and fore his decease, at a time when he was exthe church, to the beauty, harmony, meekness, pecting the death of Mrs. Cecil:-“Mrs. Cecil and glory of a better world."

was ill. I called on Mr. Cecil. I found him On another occasion he said—“ I have been in his study, sitting over his Bible in great sorlong in the habit of vicwing every thing around row. His tears fell so fast, that he could only me as in a state of ALIENATION. I have no hold utter broken sentences. He said, 'Christians on my dearest comforts. My children must do well to speak of the grace, love, and goodseparate from me. One has his lot cast in ness of God; but we must remember that he one place, and another elsewhere. It may be is a holy and jealous God. Judgment must my particular leaning, but I have never leaned begin at the house of God. This severe stroke toward my comforts without finding them give is but a farther call to me to arise and shake way. A sharp warning has met me-These myself. My hope is still firm in God. He are aliens, and as an alien live thou among who sends the stroke, will bear me up under them.' We may use our comforts by the way. it; and I have no doubt, but if I saw the whole We may take up the pitcher to drink, but the of his design, I should say, “Let her be taken! moment we begin to admire, God will in love Yet, while there is life, I cannot help saying, dash it to pieces. But I feel no such aliena- Spare her another year, that I may be a littion from the church. I am united to Christ, tle prepared for her loss! I know I have and to all his glorified and living members, by higher ground of comfort; but I shall deeply an indissoluble bond. Here my mind can feel the taking away of the dying lamp. Her centre and sympathize without suspicion or excellence as a wife and a mother, I am obliged fear."

to keep out of sight, or I should be over“ I feel,” he would say, “a congeniality whelmed. All I can do is, to go from text to with the character of Jeremiah. I seem to text, as a bird from spray to spray. Our Lord understand him. I could approach him, and said to his disciples, Where is your faith? God feel encouraged to familiarity. It is not so has given her to be my comfort these many with Elijah or Ezekiel. There is a rigor or years, and shall I not trust him for the future? severity about them which seems to repel me This is only a farther and more expensive eduto a distance, and excites reverence rather cation for the work of the ministry; it is but than sympathy and love."

saying more closely, “Will you pay the price?' In a very interesting case on which I con- If she should die, I shall request all my friends sulted him, he gave me a striking view of this never once to mention her name to me. I feature in his character_" I should have fal- can gather no help from what is called friendly len myself into an utterly different mode of condolence. Job's friends understood grief conducting the affair. But you have not the better when they sat down and spake not a melancholy in your constitution which I have, word.” and therefore to look for my mode of thinking Our departed friend was, at once, a public

and a RETIRED man. While his sacred office, one or two which will weigh well, I seem imexercised for many years in a conspicuous patient to stop him if he is proceeding to assphere, brought him much before the world, sign more. He has given me a consideration, his turn of mind was retired-he courted soli- and that suffices. The Night Thoughts' is tude—he held converse there with God, and a great book with me; notwithstanding its his own great spirit mingled with the mighty glaring imperfections, it realizes death and dead; he had such a practical knowledge and vanity. And, because this is the frame' and deep, impression of the nothingness of the habit of my own mind, my ministry partakes whole world compared with spiritual and eter- of it, and must partake of it, if I would preach nal realities, and he had so deeply felt, and so naturally and from my heart." thoroughly despised its lying pretensions to In surveying the personal character of Mr. meet the wants and to satisfy the longings of Cecil, it remains to speak somewhat more the immortal soul, that it was no sacrifice to fully of his intellectual powers. him to turn away from the shows and pursuits His IMAGINATION was not so much of the of life, and to shut out all the splendor and playful and elegant, as bold, inventive, striking, seductions of the world.

and instinctively judicious and discriminating. Yet this retired spirit was not unsocial, mo His taste in the sister arts of painting, poerose, or repulsive. No one called him from try, and music, was refined, and his judgment his retirement to ask spiritual counsel, but he learned. In his younger days he had studied was met with tenderness and urbanity. No and excelled in painting and music; and, congenial mind encountered his, without eli- though he laid them aside that he might deciting sparks both of benevolence and wisdom. vote all his powers to his work, yet the savor Not a child in his family could carry its little of them so far remained, that I have been witcomplaints to him, but he would stop the career ness innumerable times, both in public and priof his mind to listen and relieve.

vate, to the felicity of his illustrations drawn His study was his favorite retreat. His from these subjects, and to the superiority station exposed him to constant interruption, that his intimate knowledge of them gave him some necessary, and others arising from the over most persons with whom they happened injudiciousness of those who applied to him. to be brought forward. His taste, when young, It was not unusual with him to make use of was for Italian music; but, in his latter years, his power of abstraction on these occasions. he was fond of the German style, or rather the Time was too valuable to be lavished away on softer Moravian. Anthems, or any pieces the inconsideration of some of those who wherein the words were reiterated, he disliked, thought it necessary to call on him. It was for public worship especially, as they sacrificed generally his practice, not immediately to the real spirit of devotion too much to the obey a summons from his study, but when he music. His feelings on this subject were exknew he had to do with persons who would quisite. “ Pure, spiritual, sublime devotion," occupy much of his time by a long conversa- he would say, s should be the soul of public tion before the business was brought forward, music.” He often lamented the introduction rather than hurt their feelings he would carry of any other style of architecture in places down in his mind the train of thought which of worship, beside that which was so pecuhe was pursuing in his study, and, while that liarly appropriate, and which, because it was which was beside the purpose played on his so, called up associations best suited to the ear, his mind was following the subject on purposes of meeting. He said most striwhich it had entered before.

kingly—“I never enter a Gothic church withSome men are at home in society; the wide out feeling myself impressed with something world is their dwelling-place; they are known of this idea — Within these walls has been and read of all men; they have a peculiar resounded for centuries, by successive generatalent for improving mixed society. But this tions, “Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ!' was not the character of Mr. Cecil. He un- The very damp that trickles down the walls, folded himself, indeed, to his friends; but and the unsightly green that moulders upon those friends could not but feel, that, when the pillars, are far more pleasing to me from they broke in on his retirement for any other their associations, than the trim, finished, clasobjects than what were connected with his sic, heathen piles of the present fashion." high calling, they were intruders on inestima His powers of comparison, analogy, and ble time. I had, indeed, the privilege and JUDGMENT, have been rarely equalled. These happiness of free access to him at all times, had been exercised so long, and with so much for a considerable course of years, while. I energy, on all the conditions and relations was his assistant in the ministry; but, for the around him-on the word of God—on his reasons just assigned, though I was a diligent own mind-on the history, opinions, passions, observer of his mind and habits, I feel myself prejudices, and motives of men in every age, not prepared to speak fully of his more domes- and of every character and station-on moral tic and retired character.

causes and effects-on every subject that can “ Retirement," he said, " is my grand ordi- come within the grasp of a philosophic mindnance. Considerations govern me. Death is that the result was a wisdom so prominent and a mighty consideration with me. The utter commanding, that every man felt himself with vanity of every thing under the sun is another. a mind of the very first order both in capability If a man wishes to influence my mind, he and acquirement. In some cases, wherein my must assign considerations ; and, if he assigns I wishes, perhaps, formed my opinions; and,

« AnteriorContinuar »