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best described in his own words :—it is ' Joy unspeakable and full of glory.' Thus was my heavenly Father in Christ Jesus, pleased to give me the full assurance of faith; and, out of a strong, unbelieving heart, to raise up a child unto Abraham. How glad should I now have been to have spent every moment in prayer and thanksgiving! I lost no opportunity of repairing to a throne of grace ; but flew to it with an earnestness irresistible, and never to be satisfied. Could I help it? Could I do otherwise than love and rejoice in my reconciled Father in Christ Jesus? The Lord had enlarged my heart, and I could now cheerfully run in the way of his commandments."
"For many succeeding weeks tears would be ready to flow if I did but speak of the gospel, or mention the name of Jesus. To rejoice day and night was all my employment; too happy to sleep much, I thought it but lost time that was thus spent. Oh, that the ardour of my first love had continued! But I have known many a lifeless and unhallowed hour since; long intervals of darkness, interrupted by short returns of peace and joy in believing."
His excellent physician, ever watchful and apprehensive for his welfare, now became alarmed, lest the sudden transition, from despair to joy, should wholly overpower his mind; but the Lord was his strength and his song, and had become his salvation. Christ was now formed in his heart, the hope of glory; his fears were all dispelled; despair, with its horrid train of evils, was banished from his mind; a new and delightful scene was now opened before him; he became the subject of new affections, new desires, and new joys; in a word, old things were passed away, and all things were become new. God had brought him up out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and had put a new song into his mouth, even praise to his God. He felt the full force of that liberty, of which he afterwards so sweetly sung—
"A liberty unsung •
By poets, and by senators unpraised,
E'en liberty of heart, derived from heaven;
The apprehensions of Dr. C. soon subsided; he saw with delight undoubted proofs of his patient's perfect recovery, became satisfied with the soundness of his cure, and subsequently had much sweet communion with him in conversing about the great things of salvation. He now visited him every morning, as long as he remained under his care, which was near twelve months after his recovery, and the gospel was invariably the delightful theme of their conversation. The patient and the physician became thus every day more endeared to each other; and Cowper often afterwards looked back upon this period, as among the happiest days he had ever spent.
His time no longer hung heavily upon his hands; but every moment of it that he could command was employed in seeking to acquire more comprehensive views of the gospel. The Bible became his constant companion; from this pure fountain of truth he drank of that living water, which was in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life. Conversation on spiritual subjects afforded him a high degree of enjoyment. Many delightful seasons did he spend thus employed, while he remained with his beloved physician. His first transports of joy having subsided, a sweet serenity of spirit succeeded, uninterrupted by any of those distressing sensations which he had before experienced; prayer and praise were his daily employment; his heart overflowed with love to his Redeemer, and his meditation of him was sweet. In his own expressive and beautiful lines, he felt—
'* Ere yet mortality's fine threads gave wny,
His application to the study of the Scriptures must at this time have been intense; for in the short space of twelve months he acquired comprehensive and scriptural views of the great plan of redemption; and, in addition to this, his conceptions of real Christian experience, as distinguished from delusion and hypocrisy, were accurate and striking, and such as one would only have expected from an experienced Christian. He now composed two hymns, which exhibit an interesting proof of the scriptural character of those religious views he had then embraced. These hymns he himself styles specimens of his first Christian thoughts. Delightful specimens indeed they are; and the circumstances under which they were composed will greatly enhance their value in the minds of those to whom they have long been endeared by their own intrinsic excellence. The first is upon Revelations xxi. 5.; the second is entitled Retirement. The following lines of it are so touchingly beautiful, so correctly descriptive of the overflowings of his heart in solitude, while he walked with God, and was a stranger in the earth, having left his own connections, and not yet found new ones in the church; and breathe throughout in strains so pure, tender, and unreserved, the language of the Christian's first love, that they cannot fail to be read with deep interest.
"The calm retreat, the silent shade,
There, if thy Spirit touch the soul,
There like the nightingale she pours
His letters, written about this period, as well as those of a subsequent date, abound with proofs of his deep acquaintance with Christian experience. The following remarks are taken from a letter to Mrs. Cowper. "The deceitfulness of the natural heart is inconceivable. I know well that I passed among my friends for a person at least religiously inclined, if not actually religious; and what is more wonderful, I thought myself a Christian when I had no faith in Christ and when I saw no beauty in him that I should desire him J in short, when I had neither faith, nor love, nor any Christian grace whatever, but a thousand seeds of rebellion instead, evermore springing up in enmity against him; but, blessed be the God of my salvation, the hail of affliction and rebuke has swept away the refuge of lies. It pleased the Almighty, in great mercy, to set all my misdeeds before me. At length the storm being past, a quick and peaceful serenity of soul succeeded, such as ever attends the gift of a lively faith in the all-sufficient atonement, and the sweet sense of mercy and pardon purchased by the blood of Christ. Thus did he break me and bind me up; thus did he wound me and make me whole. This, however, is but a summary account of my conversion; neither would a volume contain the astonishing
particulars of it. If we meet again in this world I will relate them to you; if not, they will serve for the subject of a conference in the next, where, I doubt not, we shall remember, and record them with a gratitude better suited to the subject."
In another letter to his amiable and accomplished cousin, Lady Hesketh, he thus writes. "Since the visit you were so kind as to pay me in the Temple, (the only time I ever saw you without, pleasure,) what have I not suffered 1 And since it has pleased God to restore me to the use of my reason, what have I not enjoyed? You know by experience how pleasant it is to feel the first approaches of health after a fever; but, oh ! the fever of the brain! to feel the quenching of that fire, is indeed a blessing which I think it impossible to receive without the most consummate gratitude. Terrible as this chastisement is, I acknowledge in it the hand of infinite justice; nor is it at all more difficult for me to perceive in it the hand of infinite mercy; when I consider the effect it has had upon me, I am exceedingly thankful for it, and esteem it the greatest blessing, next to life itself, I ever received from the divine bounty. I pray God I may ever retain the sense of it, and then I am sure I shall continue to be, as I am at present, really happy. My affliction has taught me a road to happiness, which, without it, I should never have found; and I know, and have experience of it every day, that the mercy of God to the believer is more than sufficient to compensate for the loss of every other blessing. You will believe that my happiness is no dream, because I have told you the foundation on which it is built. What I have written would appear like enthusiasm to many, for we are apt to jjivo that name to every warm affection of the mind in others, Vhich we have not experienced ourselves; but to you, who have so much to be thankful for, and a temper inclined to gratitude, it will not appear so."
To the same lady, a day or two afterwards, he writes— "How naturally does affliction make us Christians! and how impossible is it, when all human help is vain, and the whole earth too poor and trifling to furnish us with one moment's peace, how impossible is it then to avoid looking at the gospel. It gives me some concern, though at the same time it increases my gratitude to reflect, that a convert made in Bedlam is more likely to be a stumbling-block to others than to advance their faith. But if it have that effect upon any, it is owing to their reasoning amiss, and drawing their conclusion from false premises. He who can ascribe an amendment of life and manners, and a reformation of the heart itself, to madness, is guilty of an absurdity, that in any other case would fasten the imputation of madness upon himself; for, by so doing, he ascribes a reasonable effect to an unreasonable cause, and a positive effect to a negative. But when Christianity only is to be sacrificed, he that stabs deepest is always the wisest man. You, my dear cousin yourself, will be apt to think I carry the matter too far; and that in the present warmth of my heart, I make too ample a concession in saying that I am only now a convert. You think I always believed, and 1 thought so too; but you were deceived, and so was I. I called myself indeed a Christian, but he who knows my heart knows that I never did a right thing, nor abstained from a wrong one, because I was so; but if I did either, it was under the influence of some other motive. And it is such seeming Christians, such pretending believers, that do most mischief in the cause, and furnish the strongest arguments to support the infidelity of its enemies: unless profession and conduct go together, the man's life is a lie, and the validity of what he professes itself, is called in question. The difference between a Christian and an unbeliever, would be so striking, if the treacherous allies of the church would go over at once to the other side, that I am satisfied religion would be no loser by the bargain. You say, you hope it is not necessary for salvation to undergo the same affliction that I have undergone. No! my dear Cousin, God deals with his children as a merciful father; he does not, as he himself tells us, afflict us willingly. Doubtless there are many, who, having been placed by his good providence out of the reach of evil, and the influence of bad example, have, from their very infancy, been partakers of the grace of his Holy Spirit, in such a manner, as never to have allowed themselves in any grievous offence against him. May you love him more and more, day by day, as every day while you think of him you will find him more worthy of your love, and may you be finally accepted by him for his sake, whose intercession for all his faithful servants cannot but prevail."
In the same letter he thus expresses his gratitude to God for placing him under the care of Dr. Cotton:—" I reckon it one instance of the providence that has attended me through this whole event, that I was not delivered into the hands of some London physician, but was carried to Dr. Cotton. I was not only treated by him with the greatest tenderness while I was ill, and attended with the utmost diligence, but