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finish the evening either with hymns or a sermon; and last of all, the family are called to prayors."
While Mr. Cowper's time and attention were so fully occupied with religious objects, it is not strange thai his mind should be impressed with a desire to preach the gospel. Qn this subject he remarks, " I have had many anxious thoughts about taking orders; and I believe every new convert is apt to think himself called upon for that purpose ; — but it has pleased God, by means which there is no need to particularize, to give me full satisfaction as to the propriety of declining it. Indeed, they who have the least idea of what 1 have suffered from the dread of public exhibitions, will readily excuse my never attempting them hereafter. In the mean time, if it please the Almighty, I may be an instrument of tirrning many to the truth in a private way; and I hope that my endeavours in this way have not been entirely unsuccessful. Had I the zeal of Moses, t should want an Aaron to be my spokesman."—The usefulness to which he alludes in this passage, was no less than the conversion of almost all Mr. Unwin's family. The consequent alteration of their conduct excited the surprize and displeasure of their former intimates, whose round of amusements had long been undisturbed by appearances of genuine godliness. They' regretted that a man of Mr. Cowper's accomplishments should have been spoiled for society by religion; and still more, that his delusion should have infected a family so extensively connected as Mr. Unwin's, with the polite inhabitants. That connexion was soon dissolved; and their resentment of the change vented itself in a calumny, to wlrtch a gross ignorance of the principles of Christian friendship afforded its sole support.
A solemn and unexpected event removed Mr. Cowper to a vicinity more congenial with his feelings, and more conducive to his profit. In the summer of 1707, Mr.Unwin was killed by a fall from his horse. At that juncture, Mr. Newton, then curate of Olney, was travelling thither from Cambridge, and called upon Mrs. Lnwiii, by the desire of the late Dr. Conyers, who had learned from her son, about six months before, the happy change wrought in her mind. Mr. Newton found the family in the depth of affliction for their recent and sudden loss; and a* they proposed shortly to remove from Huntingdon, he invited them to fix their -bode at Olney. They repaired in the Jbllowiiig October, to a house so near the vicarage in which he lived, that by opening a door way in a garden-wall, they could exchange mutual visits without entering the public street. Mrs. Untvin Kept the house; and Mr. Cowper continued to board vrith Iter, as he had done in her husband's life-time. Their days were spent nearly as at Huntingdon; except the differences produced, by a substitution of frequent evangelical worship for the daily forms of pra3*er, — the advantages of a more extended religious intercourse, — and the peculiar friendship of Mr. Newton. At the recommendation of the latter, Mr. Cowper's capacity of doing good to the poor, was enlarged by the liberal assistance of the late Mr. Thornton, who secretly distributed the bounties which the providence of God had signally conferred upon him, by a variety of confidential almoners, exclusive of the sums which he personally administered to the relief of the distressed, and to the advancement of the gospel. Mr. Cowper had previously exerted to the-utmost his confined ability for similar purposes. While at St. Alban's, he had undertaken the charge of a little boy, who was in imminent danger of ruin, through the depravity and consequent misery of his parents. At Huntingdon he had put this child to school; and having brought him to OIney, he re-visited St. Alban's the following year, in order to bind him apprentice to a useful trade. This lad, whose name was Richard Coleman, afterwards settled at OIney, and married a favourite servant.of Mrs. Unwin, whose daughter, by a former husband, was brought up by that lady. It is to be lamented, that neither she nor her father-inlaw proved worthy of the charitable advantages by which they were distinguished ; but the acceptance of such exertions in the sight of our Heavenly Father, is independent of the success with which they may be attended on earth. Mrs. Unwin, whose income was larger, employed it, to an unusual degree, in the relief of poor families.
Mr. Cowper's epistolary intercourse with his friends and relations, became, from whatever cause, less frequent, after his settlement at OIney. The distance from Cambridge being _reatly increased, he could otilv occasionally enjoy interviews with his brother. In February, 1770, he was called thither to attend one whom he so dearly loved, in his last illness. He expired the'20th of the following mouth, after having afforded the most satisfactory'evidence, that his brother's zealous and affectionate endeavours to promote his spiritual welfare, had not been in vain. , ■_
During the interval that elapsed between Mr.Cowper's retirement from London and this period, it. does not appear that lie had employed his poetical talents, except in a tew occasional hymns. They were, however, then called forth, by a friendly compact with Mr. Newton, to supply his congregation with a new assortment of hymns lor public worship. Those which, in the first edition ot the OIney collection, are distinguished, by the letter C. prefixed, demonstrate flow well he could adapt his compositions to the purposes of evangelical devotion. The degree to which his mind was then absorbed in religious engagements, and the exalted comfort he enjoyed iu Communion with Christ and his people, would not probably have been accommodated with ease to subjects of a less spiritual riaturc. It is remarkable, that as the afflictions which suspended bis poetical esiays, preceded his religious convictions^ so hJ4
Attention to composition was renewed before his privation of spiritual comfort. Religion, therefore, appears rather.to have stimulated than to have impeded his poetical exertions. Had his spiritual enjoyments extended throughout his life, it is probable that he might not have written so much; but what he had written would doubtless have been more uniformly marked with spirituality, and more elevated by heavenliness of mind.
An important change would, in that case, also have occurred in his temporal condition. Mrs. Unwin's son had taken orders; and her daughter was married to an evangelical clergyman. Her intimate friendship with Mr. Cowper had been matured by an exchange of mutual kindnesses for several successive years; and, after their removal to Olney, by dwelling together without other inmates. The cordial esteem and filial affection which Mr. Cowper had at first entertained for her, gradually assumed the similitude of a conjugal attachment. They had no prospect of separation during life; and without a matrimonial union, so intimate a connexion between them was liable to malevolent aspersion. The difference of their ages was trifling, compared to that which had subsisted between a Howard, or a Johnson, and the companions for life who were chosen by those eminent men: probably from motives somewhat similar to those which induced Mr. Cowper to propose marriage with Mrs. Unwin. The time for accomplishing their union was fixed, when his relapse into constitutional melancholy frustrated their design. It afforded to Mrs. Unwin an occasion of proving herself worthy to have been the wife of Cowper. She devoted her own life to the preservation of his; and it pleased God to prosper her efforts to that effect, though not to fulfil her hopes of his complete recovery. Her fortune, her time, her health, her comfort, and (in some degree) her reputation, were sacrificed to his safety and relief. His heart was deeply sensible of what he owed to her; and he only waited for deliverance from the distress of mind which unfitted him for every social engagement, to complete that which he had formed with Mrs. Uuwin. He has repeatedly said, That if he ever again entered a church, it would, in the first instance, be to many her. So groundless were the reports that have been circulated, at later periods, of the probability of his marriage with other persons. _
(To be concluded in our next.)
1. How may we discover a call to fill any particular situation in the dispensations of Providence?
2. If after having obeyed a similar call (in consequence of •divine direction) is it lawful to recede? S.T.
HOPE, IN THE LAST EXTREMITY.
THE^SURSTANCE OF A DISCOURSE FROM JONAH II. 4.
Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I uill look again toward thy holy temple.
The greater part of the prophecies contain but little history; but this book is an exception. It is a history of a prophecy against a city, which at that time was the metropolis of the world. It affords a singular example of the influence which the true religion, as presented among the Israelites, had upon the surrounding nations. When we read of the idolatrous Gentiles, we arc apt to think they were altogether sunk in ignorance; and withoutrany means of knowing better, except what were afforded by the light of nature. But in those early times, God had a people, as he hath now, who were witnesses for him; and whose testimony left a strong impression on the minds of mankind about them. If Jonah, when overtaken by the tempest, had been a Heathen, and had committed a crime, the mariners might have been alarmed; concluding, from their general notions of an unseen Providence, that vengeance had overtaken hitn ; — hut when they were told that he was an Hebrew,— and feared Jehovah, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the dry land, mrt had fled from his presence,—then were they " exceedingly afraid." They had heard, no doubt, of this God of gods, who was worshipped by the Hebrews, and trembled at his judgments. So when Jonah entered into Nineveh, and threatened its overthrow, if he had been an Heathensoothsayer, his message might have influenced a few; but government would doubtless have apprehended him, and either have punished him as a disturber of the public peace, or confined him as a madman; but finding him to be a prophet, sent by Jehovah, the God of Israel, whose judgments upon Egypt and other nations had rung thro' the world, they were struck with amazement. The king rises from his throne, lays aside his robe, covers himself with sackcloth, sits in ashes, and causes a fast to be proclaimed, accompanied with an admonition for every one to turn from his evil way, saying, " Who can tell if God will repent, and turn away from bis fierce anger, that we perish not r" Great is the force of truth and true religion upon the conscience!
But let us observe more particularly the story of Jonah, in .tfhich we see an affecting example of human depravity, and of the mystery of Providence. God commands him to go and prophecy against Nineveh: a great city, north of Judea. He dislikes the errand; and, in downright rebellion, takes a ship tor Tarshisli, — a sea-port of the Mediterranean, in nearly a southern direction. But whither can he flee from God's presence? Though suffered to take his course for a while, lie is soon pursued. A tempest overtakes bim. One would have thought his restless mind must have anticipated it, and been the first to interpret it; but instead of this, all parties are alartned before him : —he is asleep at the bottom of the ship. A guilty mind cannot be always on the rack of reflexion; yet its repose is not peace,—-but the stupidity of horror and wretchedness. The rebuke of the ship-master seems scarcely to have awakened him. At length, however, the lot of God falls upou his guilty head: and now we have to witness a most humiliating sight;—a prophet of the Most High God, arraigned at the bar of a company of Heathen sailors! We should have said, Let it not be known to the Heathen! He, if he could have prayed at all, would hare said, " Make me not a reproach to the foolish." But God says," It shall be known." He knows how to vindicate the honour of his name, without having recourse to the little arts of concealment, of which creatures commonly avail themselves. The whole must coineout: —his countr)-, his religion, his character, his sin !—And do the . Heathens reproach him ? • If they had, we could not have wondered; but it operates in a different way. God knows how to soften the hearts of men by that which we might expect would harden them; and things which appear to us injurious to his cause, shall tend to establish it. They appeal to him what they shall do to him; and he pronounces his own doom. Humanity, notwithstanding, and ihe fear perhaps of incurring the displeasure of his God, struggled hard for his deliverance; but struggled in vain. He must be cast away, or they must all perish. No time is to be lost, — they must coine to a decision. Lifting up their eyes to Heaven, they appeal to God for the painful necessity under which they acted; and then, taking up die unhappy man, " cast him into the sea."—Reader, had you and I been spectators-of this affecting scene, and in possession of our present views, we should probablv have not only dropped a tear over the watery tomb of the prophet, but have exclaimed, How unsearchable are God's judgments, and his ways past finding out! Viewing the effect of all upon the mariners, we should have seen men, who till now were strangers to Jehovah, calling upon his name; — we should have seen, perhaps, the hopeful conversion of many, and rejoiced in the " sacrifices and vows," which on this mysterious occasion were offered; but, what would have been a damp to our pleasure, we should have seen Jonah himself committed to the deep, prayerless, and, to all appearance, without a ray of hope! But O ! the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! When the closing wave had parted him from human observation, divine Providence still follows him. He is swallowed by a great Jish ,